10 Interesting Facts About Mockingbirds
The mockingbird is one of nature’s most fabulous and loved creatures! It can imitate other birds, animals, and insects by mocking their respective sounds. The mockingbird even served as the inspiration behind the famous Mockingjays in Suzanne Collins’ renowned series, The Hunger Games. Aside from the prominent role that these birds play in popular culture, mockingbirds are intelligent and interesting birds to learn about!
If you’ve been searching for lots of facts about mockingbirds, you’ve come to the right place! Our guide will walk you through some general mockingbird information, such as its habitat and diet, followed by a list of several exciting facts that you may not have known about before.
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Let’s dive right in!
Basic Mockingbird Facts
The mockingbird family’s official name is Mimidae.
The scientific classification for mockingbirds are as follows:
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Passeriformes
- Family: Mimidae
- Genus: Mimus
- Species: M. polyglottos
The mockingbird’s Latin name is Mimus polyglottos, which means many-tongued mimic.
Appearance (physical characteristics):
Northern mockingbirds are one of the most common mockingbirds, particularly in North America. They have brown and grey feathers along their backs, with light brown bellies. Mockingbirds also have some white feathers that become visible when they fly. However, it’s important to remember that there are about 17 species of mockingbirds all over the world. For the most part, they all have brown and grey feathers, with the exception of the blue mockingbird and the blue-and-white mockingbird.
Common Types of Mockingbirds
Some common types of mockingbirds are:
- Long-tailed mocking bird or Mimus longicaudatus
- White-banded mockingbird or Mimus triurus
- Tropical mockingbird or Mimus gilvus
- White-banded mockingbird or Mimus triurus
- Chilean mockingbird or Mimus thenca
- Bahama mockingbird or Mimus gundlachii
- Socorro mockingbird or Mimus graysoni
- Brown-backed mockingbird or Mimus dorsalis
Size and Weight
The average mockingbird is around eight to 11 inches long from head to tail. It’s important to remember that a mockingbird’s body and tail are almost the same lengths. Mockingbirds can weigh 45 to 60 grams, but male mockingbirds are slightly bigger than females.
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Habitat and Range
Mockingbirds occupy a wide range of dwelling places spread throughout the world. You can find them in the Maritime Provinces of Canada; these include Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick, and in several parts of British Columbia. You can also find mockingbirds throughout the United States in regions such as the Pacific Northwest, the Plains states, and the Greater Antilles. Mockingbirds can even be found in various parts of Veracruz and Oaxaca. Many people have reported mockingbird sightings on islands like St. Helena, the Cayman Islands, Barbados, Tahiti, and Socorro.
In terms of natural habitats, mockingbirds prefer areas with little to no vegetation. Mockingbirds who live in urban spaces prefer sparsely vegetated areas with holes to take shelter and nest.
Mockingbirds are omnivorous creatures, meaning they eat both plants and animals. In terms of animals and insects, mockingbirds eat lizards, spiders, crustaceans, grasshoppers, and ants. They also eat beetles, earthworms, and caterpillars. When it comes to plants, mockingbirds favor fruits over vegetables, eating fruits like apples, berries of various kinds, and figs.
The average mockingbird lives for eight years but can live for up to 20 years in captivity.
10 Interesting Mockingbird Facts
Here’s a list of ten facts about mockingbirds that you might not have known about:
Mockingbirds are highly territorial birds.
After mockingbirds reach sexual maturity, their main goal is to find a breeding space before the breeding season begins in spring. To mark their territory, the male mockingbirds perform an elaborate boundary dance at the edge of an area to fight for it. They start on the ground by facing one another, then hop from one side to another until one of the male mockingbirds gives up and flies away. Once they have claimed a space, the mockingbirds show off their territory to the female or use the claimed territory to attract a female.
Mockingbirds are aggressive when defending a nest.
Like most animals in the animal kingdom, both male and female mockingbirds defend their nests whenever there are signs of an intruder. When the intruder shows up, the mockingbirds often call on other mockingbirds to help in defense. They use distinct sounds to call for help, and when the group of mockingbirds arrives, they watch as the parents get rid of the predator. Male mockingbirds tend to defend their nests and eggs more strongly than females.
Mockingbirds use their singing to attract mates.
It’s no secret that mockingbirds are famous for their singing! However, it might come as a surprise to you that their singing is what helps them attract a mate. When the mating season begins, male mockingbirds sing to find a female mate. If a male mockingbird doesn’t have a mate, it will often sing more songs than a mated bird. The production of songs changes in accordance with the mockingbird’s mating status and the stage of breeding he is in.
It might interest you to know that the average male mockingbird has over 200 songs in his repertoire! However, even though they have tons of songs in their repertoire, mockingbirds also have a limit. The mockingbird’s intelligence is also reflected in its singing. As we mentioned earlier, mockingbirds have more than 200 songs in their repertoires. Their songs consist of sounds that they mimic from other creatures, along with sounds specific to the mockingbird.
Mockingbirds are monogamous creatures.
Mockingbirds are monogamous, which means that they usually mate for life. You must note that while mockingbirds are, for the most part, monogamous, there are times when a male mockingbird will sing to attract a new mate. Among the Northern mockingbird species, male and female birds tend to pick each other and stay together for life. However, switching mates and divorce does occur among these birds.
Female mockingbirds have control over who their mates are.
While it might seem like the male birds have control over their choice of mates, female mockingbirds also have an equal say. A researcher named Cheryl Logan deduced that female mockingbirds are highly observational creatures, taking the time to watch the males and assess the quality of their chosen territory and the males themselves. When the breeding season begins, the female mockingbirds will observe their current mate’s territory and a new mate’s territory and exchange vocal communication with both mates. Once she chooses a mate, the new male will fly away to attract a new mate.
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A mockingbird’s diet changes with the passing of the seasons.
We mentioned earlier that mockingbirds are omnivorous birds, indicating that their diets consist of animals and plants. However, it’s important to note that a mockingbird’s diet changes with different seasons. They tend to eat animals during their mating season but switch to fruits as the weather gets colder in fall and winter.
Mockingbirds display parental investment.
Parental investment is a concept in evolutionary psychology and biology that refers to parents (both human and animal) who display caring in time, behavior, and emotional labor. It benefits the offspring, in this case, the mockingbird chicks. When the mockingbird parents display parental investment, it shows in their behavior through their aggressive defensive tactics when predators attack their nests.
Mockingbirds thrive and live efficiently in urban spaces.
Unlike other bird species that tend to thrive in the wilderness or when bred in captivity, mockingbirds thrive in urban spaces. A study by Christine M. Stracey and Scott K. Robinson discovered that, over time, the population of mockingbirds in urban spaces is higher than the mocking population in rural areas. The urban mockingbird population is so high that many refer to them as an urban-positive species.
Mockingbirds thrive in urban spaces because it is easy to find food and water, unlike rural areas. Studies have also shown that urban mockingbirds tend to return to nests that they mated and bred in successfully in the past.
Mockingbirds are some of the most intelligent birds on the planet.
Since mockingbirds can adjust quickly and thrive in urban spaces, it is safe to say that they are some of the most intelligent creatures on the planet. They demonstrate their intelligence through their ability to make use of artificial lighting (such as streetlights) to feed their chicks at night.
Studies have also noticed that mockingbirds can recognize human beings. A research paper published in 2009 by Douglas J. Levey, Gustavo A. Londoño, Judit Ungvari-Martin, Monique R. Hiersoux, Jill E. Jankowski, John R. Poulsen, Christine M. Stracey, and Scott K. Robinson tested the intelligence of mockingbirds by making some humans threatening the birds’ nest. Later on in the study, the researchers noticed that the mockingbirds managed to identify the intruders and displayed aggressive and defensive behavior towards the intruders while leaving the non-interfering humans alone.
The mockingbird is one of the most popular birds referenced in popular culture.
You might have already studied the famous novel, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, which examines the theme of racism. In Lee’s book, the mockingbird serves as a metaphor for the idea of innocence. Additionally, one of Thomas Jefferson’s many pet birds was a mockingbird!
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This guide took you through a list of ten detailed facts about mockingbirds. When researching and reading facts about mockingbirds, we were shocked by how much information there is on these birds and how much they contribute to the world of birds! Even though our article has barely scratched the surface on all things mockingbird-related, we hope it encouraged you to continue reading and researching, as you must have learned by now that they are fascinating to learn about!