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Northern Mockingbird

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A northern mockingbird perches on a tree branch above a busy street. Suddenly a car horn blares, and the bird lets out a honk-like chirp. Later a dog yelps, and the mockingbird makes a barking noise. Then a different bird tweets, and mockingbird mimics it perfectly.

 

The mockingbird can imitate many sounds, including the chirps of some 35 different bird species. And the chatty flier can learn over 200 different songs in its lifetime. Get the scoop on this superb bird.

 

WHERE THEY LIVE

Northern mockingbirds live across the United States and in parts of Canada and Mexico. The mockingbird is the state bird of Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. They’re commonly found on tall shrubs or tree branches on the edges of forests, in backyards, or in parks.

WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE

These birds are gray and brown with white patches on both the bottoms and tops of their wings. Males, which weigh about as much as four tablespoons of sugar and sport a 14-inch-long wingspan, are slightly bigger than female mockingbirds. Females have slightly darker tail feathers than males.

 

WHAT THEY EAT

The mockingbird dines on fruit, seeds, berries, and small insects such as beetles, earthworms, moths, butterflies, and bees.

 

WHAT EATS THEM

Snakes, owls, hawks, blue jays, American alligators, and raccoons prey on these birds.

 

HOW THEY BEHAVE

Northern mockingbirds are known for their ability to mimic everything from sirens to crickets to other bird species. Scientists think they produce these copycat calls to show off for potential mates. The animals also belt out songs unique to mockingbirds.

 

These feathered tough guys are territorial and chase away other birds that invade their home turf. They’re especially protective during breeding season in spring. Females lay up to six eggs, two to three times each season. Chicks leave the nest just 12 days after hatching.

 

Text by April Capochino Myers

 

 

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