The Northern Mockingbird is an incredible songbird. If you hear a bird by your window and can’t really figure out what it is, or because its changing different songs of different birds, take a peek and you will probably see this cute little bird singing away! The Northern Mockingbird actually mocks other birds just like its name suggests! It can essentially mimic the songs of other birds, and even mimic the sounds that it hears around it – just like the Lyre bird in the David Attenborough video. The Northern Mockingbird comes from a family of birds that are slim, medium sized with short rounded wings and long rounded tails, which they pump up when they get excited or aggressive. The Northern Mockingbird has a very interesting scientific name – polyglottos, which actually means “many tongued”.
Keys To Identification
9 - 11 inches. (22 - 27 centimeters) in length (fully grown), and weigh from 45 - 58 grams (1.6 - 2 ounces). They have a wingspan of about 13 - 14 inches (31 - 35 Centimeters).
Northern Mockingbirds have light colored eyes, gray overall covers, long black tails, and long legs, with beige to white undersides. Their outer tail feathers are white, while the wings are primarily black with thick white stripes and patches.
Males and Females look alike
Juvenile Mockingbirds are just smaller in size
The Northern Mockingbird has many variations of songs, it mimics other birds songs, and sings throughout the year.
Northern Mockingbirds are very active and very aggressive birds. You can find them running and hopping around on your lawn. They also enjoy feeding on the ground with their tails raised up in the air. Around the Toronto area you will find them on top of your fence posts, TV antennas, on top of buildings and definitely around your bird feeders. Mockingbirds are in fact very aggressive, don’t let these cute looks fool you – Mockingbirds will chase off any intruders that are on their turf. Interesting enough, the Northern Mockingbird will actually attack their own reflections in a window, hubcap or mirror. They do this with such force and anger that they actually injure or kill themselves. At mating time, the male Northern Mockingbird becomes increasingly exuberant, flashing their wings around and flying from post to post. The mockingbird also has an interesting habit that is used to rid them of parasites. What they will do is stand on their 2 feet and open their wings out wide – sometimes this is identified as a way to be territorial, others think it’s a way to get ants and other insects to climb on them and actually clean them. (Feel free to start a discussion in the forums on this topic)
Mockingbirds can be found throughout most of the United States of America and parts of Canada all year. They seem to like open land areas, forests, roadsides, woodland edges, thickets, farms, and yes, they like your bird feeder in your backyard in parts of the GTA. The Northern Mockingbird is well adapted and comfortable in suburban areas!
Northern Mockingbirds eat a wide variety of foods, including beetles, ants, bees, wasps, grasshoppers, earthworms, butterflies, caterpillars, spiders, blackberries, cherries, elderberries, grapes, blueberries and pretty much any other wild fruit they will find. If this bird is hungry, it surely is going to eat whatever it comes across that’s edible.
In comparison to birds that are similar to the Northern Mockingbirds, look no further than the Shrikes. Although the Shrikes are heftier, they have hooked bills, their tails are shorter than the Northern Mockingbird, they have more black on their faces, wings and tails, and they have less white on their wings. They still look as though they resemble each other in one way or another. Below are two pictures of a Loggerhead Shrike and a Northern Shrike.
Range: (the geographical area where this species can be found)
Its pretty simple to see that these Northern Mockingbirds are very widespread throughout the United States of America, through Mexico, and parts of Southern Canada. They even go past Florida and a bit more south to the Caribbeans Regardless of what part of the map these birds are hanging around, they are year round birds, and are certainly common in the Greater Toronto Area.
We have learned that the Northern Mockingbird is a great singer. And this is very true! But did you know that the Northern Mockingbird will add so many songs to their repertoires throughout their lives, that they can actually learn and remember about 200 songs with no problem at all. Amazing isn't it?
This was a video I came across that shows the Mockingbirds different songs.
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"Loggerhead Shrike." Tringa. Web. 11 Nov 2009. <http://www.tringa.org/bird_pictures/6160_Loggerhead_Shrike_02-19-2007_6.jpg>.
"Northern Shrike." National Zoo. Web. 7 Dec 2009. <http://nationalzoo.si.edu/ConservationAndScience/MigratoryBirds/Featured_photo/Images/Bigpic/nshr1.jpg>.
"Northern Mockingbird Range." All About Birds. Web. 11 Nov 2009. <http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/PHOTO/LARGE/mimu_poly_AllAm_map.gif>.
"Northern Mockingbird Sings." YouTube. Web. Nov 11 2009. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZQZuQeHJGQ>.
"Dumb And Dumber Mockingbird Scene." Youtube. Web. 10 Nov 2009. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5f_gbzo4Q0>.
"Northern Mockingbird." Wikipedia. Web. 11 Nov 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Mockingbird>.
Ransom, Jay Ellias. Complete Filed Guide To North American Wildlife. Eastern Edition. New York: Harper and Row, 1981. 35, 151-152. Print.