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22 Interesting Facts About Mockingbirds

Mockingbirds are famous for their ability to sing and mimic songs day and night. If you live in North America and hear numerous different calls around the area, you may have a Northern Mockingbird living nearby. Continue reading to learn 22 amazing fun facts about the Mockingbird!

22 Facts About Mockingbirds

1. Northern Mockingbirds are the only native species in North America

If you live in North America, the only mockingbird species you will likely see is the Northern Mockingbird. The Northern Mockingbird is the only native mockingbird species on the continent. Other mockingbird species are found in other parts of the world.

2. Most Mockingbird Species Live in South America

There are at least 16 mockingbird species that exist in the world. Although North America is only home to the Northern Mockingbird, there are several different mockingbird species that live within South America.

A handful of mockingbird species live exclusively on the Galápagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador, including the Galápagos, Hood, San Cristobal, and Floreana Mockingbird.

3. The Northern Mockingbird is an Official State Bird

Northern mockingbird

The Northern Mockingbird is the official state bird for five states, including Texas, Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

4. Mockingbirds Used to Be a Popular Pet

Northern Mockingbirds used to be a popular caged-bird pet in the 19th century. People would capture mockingbird nestlings and raise them as pets or sell them. Northern Mockingbird populations diminished significantly during this time due to human capture and trade.

5. Male Mockingbirds Can Learn Many Different Songs

Mockingbirds are most known for their ability to mimic and recreate sounds they hear from other birds. Male mockingbirds are capable of learning up to 200 different sounds throughout their life.

6. Female Mockingbirds Rarely Sing

Male mockingbirds are most known for singing all day and night. Females, however, do not sing nearly as much as males. The only time you may hear a female mockingbird sing is during the fall when she is establishing her territory for the winter.

7. Mockingbirds Sing Most in Spring, Summer, and Fall

Winter is considered the quiet season for mockingbirds as they sing most during the spring, summer, and fall. Males generally sing the most right before spring begins in February and continues throughout the summer until the late fall in November.

mockingbird standing on branch

8. Mockingbirds Can Imitate Various Sounds

Mockingbirds like to mimic sounds from other birds, but they can also pick up other sounds as well. They can create sounds they hear from human activity, such as construction and other animal noises including dogs barking.

9. Mockingbirds Are Highly Territorial

Mockingbirds are very territorial and will become aggressive if other birds or animals approach their area. Aggression is especially apparent during nesting season, as both parents will defend their nesting area and hatchlings from other birds. Females will attack other female birds, while males attack male birds that enter the area.

10. Mockingbirds Help With Seed Dispersal

Much of the mockingbird diet consists of insects and berries. Mockingbirds feed on insects most during the spring and summer when they are most abundant. They will also sometimes eat at bird feeders

In the fall and winter months, mockingbirds turn to berries and other fruits for food. In the process, mockingbirds will eat berries and fruits and then disperse the seeds throughout their range through their feces.

11. Male and Female Mockingbirds Usually Mate for Life

Mockingbirds are monogamous and generally select only one partner to mate with for life. Male mockingbirds may mate with a few other females within their lifetime, but this is a rare occurrence.

12. Males Attract Females Through Courtship Displays

Male mockingbirds have a number of different ways they try to attract a female to their nesting site. Males may chase female mockingbirds around shrubbery or tree branches to entice their potential mate.

Males also participate in flight displays by flying in the air and swooping down around the female to show up the white patches present on their wings.

13. Mockingbirds Are Diurnal

Mockingbirds are diurnal, meaning they are most active during the day. This is when they build nests, tend to young, and forage for food. However, male mockingbirds are known to disrupt the sleep schedules of nearby residents by singing all throughout the night.

14. The Oldest Mockingbird on Record Lived to Be 14 Years Old

The average lifespan of a mockingbird is generally eight years. Mockingbirds that live in captivity are able to live much longer, as they can live up to 20 years. The oldest mockingbird living in the wild was found in Texas and recorded to be approximately 14 years and 10 months old.

15. Male Mockingbirds Have Two Distinct Calls

Although male mockingbirds are capable of making all sorts of different sounds, they have two distinct sounds that they use for different times of the year. One call is specific to the spring and the other is made in the fall.

16. Mockingbirds Are Partially Migratory

The birds that live in the northernmost states of the eastern U.S. typically migrate to southern states and may travel as far south as Mexico. Mockingbirds that live in the southern state range generally do not migrate, as they are capable of withstanding the slightly warmer temperatures during winter in the southernmost areas.

female mockingbird sitting on her nest
Mockingbird on her nest | image by David Beyer via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

17. Mockingbird Hatchlings Are Born Altricial

Baby mockingbirds are altricial upon hatching, meaning they are unable to move around after they are born. Parent mockingbirds must take extensive care of their young when they first hatch. Young mockingbirds leave the nest 10 to 12 days after hatching.

18. Only Female Mockingbirds Incubate the Eggs

Male mockingbirds actively participate in finding a nesting site, building a nest, and feeding the nestlings once they hatch. However, only females participate in the egg incubation process. Incubation of the eggs generally lasts between 11 and 14 days before they hatch.

19. Mockingbirds Are Prey to Predatory Birds

Northern Mockingbirds are subject to predation by larger, predatory birds, such as the Screech Owl, Great Horned Owl, and Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Other common predators that will seek out mockingbird eggs and nestlings include snakes, squirrels, blue jays, and crows. Mockingbirds won’t go down without a fight though, as a pair of mockingbirds will attack predators together.

20. Native Americans Called Mockingbirds Cencontlatolly

The scientific name of the Northern Mockingbird is Mimus polyglottos, meaning “many-tongued mimic” because of their song capabilities. Mockingbirds were referred to Native Americans as Cencontlatolly, translating to “four hundred tongues”.

21. Mockingbirds Have Adapted to Human Activity

Northern Mockingbirds prefer to live near forest edges or open areas, such as fields and farmland. However, this species has adapted to human development and will live in urban areas with high human activity.

22. The Floreana Mockingbird Was the First Species Discovered

In 1835, Charles Darwin discovered the very first mockingbird species. During his Beagle voyage, Darwin identified the Floreana Mockingbird on the Galápagos Islands. Floreana Mockingbirds are endangered and much of their population has become fully extinct on the main island of Floreana.