|Size:||Length: 10 inches (25.4 cm)|
|Weight:||1.75 ounces (50 g)|
|Diet:||Insects, snails, fruit, berries, worms and lizards|
|Distribution:||United States, Mexico and West Indies|
|Young:||2 to 3 chicks, two or three times a year|
|Animal Predators:||Cats, dogs, foxes, hawks, owls and snakes|
|IUCN Status:||No special status|
|Lifespan:||Average of 8 years in the wild|
· The northern mockingbird is the state bird of Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas.
· It is the most widely known songbird in North America.
· The mockingbird has been made famous in several songs, including “Listen to the Mockingbird” and “Mockingbird,” as well as the book and film “To Kill A Mockingbird” (the title refers to the fact that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird because they harm no one and produce such beautiful songs).
Both males and females have the same colouring—grey with white undersides and white wing patches that are visible only during flight. They also have a long tail and long, black legs.
Mockingbirds can sometimes be seen as far north as southern Canada, but most live in the United States and Mexico. They live in open grassy areas that have thick shrubs in which they hide their nests. Some mockingbirds living in the north will migrate south for the winter.
Northern mockingbirds eat insects, snails, fruit, berries, worms and lizards. They like to forage on short grass and are thus commonly seen feeding on suburban mowed lawns.
Mockingbirds mate for life. The male sings a mating song to win over a female. Once they become a couple and are expecting young, the male builds a cup-shaped nest of twigs, and the female lines it with soft grass, leaves, cotton and paper, before laying two to three bluish-green eggs speckled with brown. The female then sits on the eggs for approximately 12 days before they hatch. Both parents bring food to the young, who will be able to leave the nest two weeks later. Northern mockingbirds may have two or three broods in one season, with a different nest used for each brood. Mockingbirds become distressed if any of their young fall out of the nest. In one case, people placed a fallen mockingbird in an Easter basket and hung the basket from a branch near the original nest. The relieved parents happily fed and took care of their youngster from there, until he was old enough to fly. The widespread belief that birds will not touch their babies if human hands have handled them is false.
Northern mockingbirds are beloved by many, mainly because of their extraordinary vocal abilities. They have a wide variety of songs and in addition, can mock or mimic almost any other song or sound, including the barking of a dog. In fact, sound spectrographs have shown their renditions of other birds’ songs to be exact duplicates, and a mockingbird in captivity was found to reproduce 39 bird songs and 50 birdcalls as well as frog and cricket sounds. Mockingbirds protect their nest fiercely, aggressively swooping down on cats or other predators who approach their territory. They are often seen sitting on a post, surveying their territory. The reason for this is to keep other birds away from their food, such as their favourite berry bushes, and if another bird approaches, the mockingbird will chase the intruder away.
Northern mockingbirds are not considered a conservation concern.
Northern Mockingbird Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US
C. and Greensmith, A. (1993). Birds of the World. London: Dorling Kindersley