Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)

Northern mockingbird | Photo credit: Larry Smith

The Northern mockingbird has been the state bird of Texas since 1927. Their scientific name Mimus polyglottos, translates as “many-tongued mimic”, highlighting the mockingbird’s amazing talent for perfectly mimicking the songs of over three dozen bird species. Mockingbirds can also expertly reproduce the sounds of other animals, as well as some man-made devices such as musical instruments, car alarms, warning bells, and creaky hinges.

Classified as songbirds, mockingbirds measure approximately ten inches in length and are grey in color, with white patches on the wings. Mockingbirds are found throughout most of North America, including parts of Canada and Mexico; they are most abundant in the southern United States. These skilled vocalists are easily observed in open areas and near people, such as in suburban neighborhoods where they may perch on rooftops to sing. During the spring, mockingbirds–particularly unpaired males–may sing for hours on end, even during the night.

Mockingbirds are alert birds and aggressively defend their territories from small animals, humans, and other birds. Their diet is varied, consisting of primarily insects, berries, and seeds. Although not traditionally attracted to birdfeeders, mockingbirds do occasionally feed from platform feeders stocked with a mixture of millet, cracked corn, peanut chips, and sunflower seed.

Mockingbirds are abundant year-round throughout the state of Texas. Urban parks such as Canyon Lake, Friedrich Wilderness Park, and Boerne City Park/Cibolo Wilderness attract mockingbirds, as do larger natural areas such as Choke Canyon State Park and Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.

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