Best known for their ability to "mock" or imitate the sounds of other birds and wildlife, Mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos) (many-tongued mimic) are often called the "American Nightingale". Their lovely song is a delightful sound that echos through marshes, forests and open woodlands. There are 17 different species of mockingbirds, however most are tropical and only found in warm, humid climates. In the United States, the Northern Mockingbird is frequently found along the eastern seaboard, although they are sighted in almost every state.
Mockingbirds Love Berries
Mockingbirds love to feast on the berries of autumn. Wild blackberries, blueberries, chock cherries and raspberries attract the birds to urban landscapes and country gardens. Florida strawberry farmers screen their crop to prevent the vocal warblers from raiding the rows.
Seeds & Grains
Ripe seeds and grains attract Northern Mockingbirds to farmers' fields and forest glens. The birds aggressively compete with other winged species for the tasty tidbits. Female mockingbirds build new nests while the male birds feed the fledglings and teach them to fly. Mockingbirds mate twice a year, sometimes as many as three to four times annually if conditions are favorable.
Northern Mockingbirds are effective bug killers, harvesting mosquitoes, beetles and grubs. The male mocking bird will strut about on the ground, flapping his wings to impress the females, scare snakes away and stir up a wide variety of insects for a meal. Ants, grasshoppers and spiders are some of their favorite treats.
Northern Mockingbirds Are Territorial
Mockingbirds are territorial, claiming about 20 acres per mating pair. The birds will swoop and peck at dogs, cats or other birds that invade their claimed space. The Northern Mockingbird will even attack humans that venture into their territory.
Many Tongued Mimics
The Northern Mockingbird imitates the sounds of other bird species. Scientists have recorded over 30 different sounds made by just one mocking bird. Their delightful calls may sound like the garden is full of a wide diversity of bird life when it is actually only the sounds of one bird. Unmated males will sing in the dark, sounding especially active on bright, moonlit nights.
- Photo Credit mockingbird 1 image by Pix by Marti from Fotolia.com strawberry image by Buryakov Andrey from Fotolia.com beetle image by Henryk Olszewski from Fotolia.com
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