Bird of the Month: Northern Mockingbird
The northern mockingbird is the official state bird of Mississippi. (Photo from Canva)
Every Mississippian is familiar with the northern mockingbird. In 1944, it became the official bird of Mississippi. This bird is also the state bird of Florida, Texas, Arkansas, and Tennessee. The northern mockingbird is native to the southeastern United States. Because they prefer areas of open ground with low, dense shrubbery, they are often found living in suburban areas. However, mockingbirds can be found in a variety of settings, including towns, farms, and woodland areas.
The northern mockingbird is a medium-sized member of the Mimidae family. It typically is around 10 inches long and has a wingspan of 14 inches, with a rather long, upright tail. Males and females have similar features, both with dark gray feathers on their backs and a whitish gray belly. Female mockingbirds are typically smaller in size than their male counterparts.
An easy way to identify northern mockingbirds is by the two bright white bars on their dark gray wings. The songbird tends to mimic the sounds of its environment and songs of other nearby birds. In fact, the northern mockingbird’s Latin name, Mimus polyglottos, means “many-tongued mimic.” It can learn up to an average of 1,500 different songs in its lifetime!
Some studies have found that female birds choose their mate based on their musical abilities. Once mated, mockingbirds typically raise up to three nests of eggs each year. Be careful not to get too close to the nests! Northern mockingbirds are known for being very protective of their nests, often attacking animals or other birds that get too close!
Northern mockingbirds thrive in backyards with a variety of trees, shrubs, and plants, providing them both food and shelter. Their primary diet consists of small insects, fruits, and berries. To make your property a welcoming environment for mockingbirds and a variety of other species of birds, check out this article on how to attract birds to your home!
Subscribe to Extension for Real Life
Fill in the information below to receive a weekly update of our blog posts.