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A Five Paw Rated Site
Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
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Gallery Of Photos
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
Northern Mockingbirds can sing up to 200 songs. These include the songs of other birds, insect and amphibian sounds, and even the occasional mechanical noise.
During the late 18th century and throughout the 19th century there was a strong market for caged mockingbirds. By the early 20th century, fueled by the mockingbird's famed vocal prowess, this demand resulted in the near extinction of populations near Philadelphia, St. Louis, and other large cities.
Today, the Northern Mockingbird has largely recovered. In fact, populations of mockingbirds on the Hawaiian Islands; in Portland, Oregon; in San Francisco, and near some cities in central Canada, apparently resulted from the release of caged birds. Human-caused changes in the environment have also led to range expansion. This is especially so in the East, where mockingbirds have increased where multiflora rose has been planted for hedges, particularly in the southern parts of the eastern Canadian provinces. Expansions were also notable along the West Coast following the planting of Pyracantha and fruit trees, and in the Southwest due to the growth of trees and increase in agricultural areas. The Northern Mockingbird now ranges from southern Canada, where populations are local and sometimes greatly diminished by harsh winters, to Oaxaca and Veracruz, Mexico.
Pairs share in the defense of territory and may be very aggressive, diving at dogs, cats and human intruders during the breeding season. Mockingbirds established a breeding territory in the spring and a separate territory concentrated around a food source during the non-breeding season, which they must defend against other fruit-eating birds. Mockingbird pairs may remain together for life, but some pairs, especially in the northern part of the range, separate to establish their own distinct winter territories.
Northern Mockingbirds are about the size of American Robins (10") but are slimmer and longer tailed. Crown, nape, and upperparts are gray, and the underparts are grayish white. Wings are blackish with two white wingbars and a broad white patch across the base of the primary feathers. The white patches on the wings are conspicuous in flight and when the wings are held aloft in territorial displays. The tail is blackish with white outer feathers. Eyes are pale yellow, and the long, slightly decurved bill is black. Their relatively long legs are also black. Sexes are similar, although males are slightly larger on average.
Juveniles are similar except that upperparts are browner, with chest and flanks spotted and streaked with black.
Copyright Jim Gaston & Rose Maschek 12.2006