Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
Sound (396 KB) Very Big File
10 inches (25 cm)
• White wing patches very obvious in flight
• White outer tail feathers
• Gray above, whitish below
• Slender bill
• Gray head and upperparts
• Yellow eye
• White underparts
• Long black tail with white outer tail feathers
• White wing bars
• White patch in wing, especially visible in flight
• Black legs
• Sexes similar
• Juvenile has spotted breast
• Most often found in scrubby habitats and in urban areas
• Shrikes are similar but have black masks and thicker bills. Sage Thrasher is similar to juvenile mockingbird but lacks white wing patches and has darker, more extensive spotting below. Rare Bahama Mockingbird (stray to Florida) has streaked flanks and lacks wing patches.
Open woodlands, suburban areas, gardens, pastures, thickets, hedges, towns, orchards, deserts. Male sings continuously for hours during the day or night. Often repeats vocalizations three times. Imitates many bird songs as well as other unusual noises. Common and widespread.
NESTING & FEEDING:
BREEDING: Habitat generalist: wide range of open and partly open habitats, abundant in suburbs. 2 broods, occasionally 3 or 4. Mating system is monogamous.
DISPLAYS: Male and female perform mating "dance" facing each other with heads and tails high, darting at each other and retreating; may also serve as territorial display, often occurring between males.
NEST: Usually in coniferous or deciduous shrub3 to 10 feet above the ground. Also occasionally in vines; of twigs, lined with grass, rootlets. Male usually builds foundation, female lines it. Built in 4-8 days.
EGGS: 3-5 Blue-green eggs, usually heavily marked with browns. 1.0" (24 mm).
CHICK DEVELOPMENT: Female incubates. Incubation takes 12-13 days. Development is altricial (immobile, downless, eyes closed, fed). Young leave the nest after 11-13 days. Both sexes tend young.
DIET: Insects, fruit, including crayfish, sowbugs, snails, few small vertebrates; berries. Nestlings fed mostly insects, some fruit.
CONSERVATION: In winter largely resident; few migrate s to s Mexico, Bahamas, Greater Antilles. Rare Brown-headed Cowbird host, occasionally Bronzed Cowbird host.
NOTES: Uses songs and calls of other birds; unmated males sing more than mated males, only unmated males sing at night in spring. Vigorously defends territory against many other species. Long-term pair bond; polygyny and polyandry rare. Young brooded up to 4 days, almost entirely by female. Male assumes feeding of fledglings while female renests. Conspicuous "wing-flashing" ostensibly functions to stir up insects and to distract predators, especially snakes. Sexes often defend separate winter feeding territories.
Mimus polyglottos NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD. Open scrub, forest edge, brush, farms, towns. Lowlands from s British Columbia e across s Canada to Nova Scotia, s to s California, Arizona, New Mexico, s Texas, Gulf coast, s Florida incl. Florida Keys, Bahama Islands and Greater Antilles e to Virgin Islands, recently Little Cayman in the Cayman Islands; s in Mexico to s Baja Calif., incl. many adj. islands and through n,c,se Mexico to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in ce Oaxaca (absent from c,s Pacific lowlands, s Veracruz), incl. Tres Marías Islands and Socorro Island. Population still expanding to the north. N populations are partly migratory s in winter. Introduced in the Hawaiian Islands and Bermuda.