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Species Description

Northern Mockingbird

Mimus polyglottos


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Classification

Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Mimidae

Description

Light gray above and whitish-gray below. During flight, large white patches are visible on the dark gray wings and white outer tail feathers are conspicuous on the dark gray tail. The bill and legs are dark. These are medium-sized songbirds, 25 cm (10 in) from beak tip to tail tip. When Mockingbirds sing, they mimic the songs of other birds, animals, and even machinery. Several different songs are sung consecutively, and each song is usually repeated twice before switching to a different song.

Life Cycle

The breeding season lasts from late February through September. Nests are built 1-3 m (3-10 ft) above ground in shrubs and trees. Males build the nest cup with twigs, and females line the nest with grass. The female lays 3 - 5 greenish-blue eggs heavily marked with brown spots and squiggles. The female incubates these for 12 days, and the young are altricial when they hatch. Both the male and female feed the young, which fledge after spending 12 days in the nest.

Natural History

The Northern Mockingbird lives in a wide variety of natural and human-modified areas and is common in suburban areas and towns. In addition to being well-known for its extensive song repertoire, the Mockingbird is notorious for its conspicuous and aggressive nest defense. Mockingbirds are often seen chasing large birds such as crows and hawks away from their nests. Mockingbirds eat a wide variety of food items, including insects, berries, earthworms, and occasionally small lizards. Common predators include hawks, owls, and snakes.

Range

Northern Mockingbird Region Map The Northern Mockingbird can be found year-round throughout Georgia where suitable habitat is present. The species ranges throughout the United States.

Conservation Status

The Northern Mockingbird is common in appropriate habitat.

Similar Species

The Loggerhead Shrike has coloring similar to that of the Mockingbird. However, the Shrike is darker, slightly smaller (23 cm or 9 in), and may be distinguished by a black mask around its eyes.