Northern Mockingbird

Mimus polyglottos

by Amelia Tuck

 The Northern Mockingbird is a medium sized bird with gray on the upper part of the body and very pale on the lower part.  On their wings one can find white patches, and they have slender black beaks and legs.  They can be found in the class of birds, order of Passeriformes, and the family Mimidae.  Mockingbirds are known for their singing abilities, the unmated male mockingbirds tend to sing more than the mated ones.  During the fall, in order to prepare for the winter feeding territory, both sexes can be found singing.  They are also known for mimicking other sounds.             

Mockingbirds have a diet that consist of many things, this includes insects, fruit, crustaceans and small vertebrates.  The mockingbirds also help a lot in planting by carrying seeds in their digestive tracts and excreting them in their feces.  This occurs when the fruit that they eat has seeds and then is dispersed in many different areas which in return helps the plants spread to new areas.  The nest that they build consists of twigs, leaves, and fine grass along with some human cast offs.  Their eggs are blue-green with brown markings, they have an incubation of 12-13 days.  After they hatch they remain in the nest for 11-13 days before fleeing.            

These birds are hunted by predators such as snakes, owls, and hawks.  They stay in the shelters of different types of bushes and trees to protect themselves.  In order to protect their nests they do a “dive-bomb” at any possible predators that come anywhere close, including humans.  They have never been known to actually injure anyone but one would be wise to stay away from their nests between the months of April and July.

Written spring 2004, as a service learning project for Dr. Gary Coté's Biology 102 class at Radford University.  Copyright Pathways for Radford.

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