Mockingbirds

Last year we noticed that we had our “own” mockingbird, and he would perch in the treetop across from our front porch and sing his heart out. One of the sounds he would imitate is the call of Bobwhite quail (which we have seen here, but not recently) and I would get all excited and rush out to the treeline looking for quail. Well, no quail this time, but the MOckingbird is pretty special , too.

We feed our wild birds year-round, and our Mockingbird will take some seeds but I see him a lot more on the suet feeder through the winter. I imagine the fat helps him keep warm!

Mockingbirds like to have what’s called “edge” habitat, which basically means they like to have trees to perch in, shrubs for protection, and open areas to forage for insects and invertebrates. They do like fruit, and will drink tree sap if they find it.

Male Mockingbirds are a little bigger than the hen, and his vocal ability seems to be quite important in a females’ decision about whether to choose him to mate with and raise babies. Once the female decides, she’ll stick with him for the whole breeding season.

They’ll raise two or even three clutches of babies in a season, with two to four eggs in each clutch. The hen incubates her eggs for twelve to thirteen days, and once they’ve hatched both parents feed the nestlings for another twelve to thirteen days until they fledge. If the hen does lay another clutch, she starts as soon as the first clutch of babies is hatched! The male bird gets to take care of the first clutch while she incubates the next.

Northern Mockingbirds make their nests high up (ten to sixty feet off the ground) to protect from raccoons, squirrels, snakes and blue jays and crows.

Adult birds have to look out for hawks, and for Brown-headed Cowbirds that will parasitize the nests of Mockingbirds. Cowbird chicks will push the Mockingbird fledglings out of the nest.

Male Mockingbirds flash those white wing patches as a territorial display, warning other males off. They sing to show where their territory boundaries are located, to attract hens, and just because they can!

Here’s an interesting fact: female Mockingbirds sing, too! Another odd thing is that some birds will sing into the night. Scientists think that the night-time singers are unpaired male birds.

Mockingbirds can sing up to 200 different song patterns, and they’ve been known to imitate other birds, animals, car alarms and chainsaws. They’ll imitate each other and apparently any sound that catches their attention.

So celebrate the Northern Mockingbird today, in all his glory. They’ll entertain you with their song and their antics, and they’ll brighten your day every time you let them!

As always, please feel free to email me at FlamingPurpleJellyfish@gmail.com with questions, comments or criticism. I love to hear from you!

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