23 Marvellous Facts about the Mighty Mockingbird 

23-Marvellous-Facts-about-the-Mighty-Mockingbird

The mockingbird may not provide much of a spectacle to look at, with its dreary plumage and small stature. But beneath their understated and unremarkable exterior lies a truly feisty little bird with plenty of character and lots of talent. For centuries, the mockingbird has been revered, adored (and sometimes scorned!) for its uncanny abilities to imitate the calls of other animals, often singing long into the darkest depths of the night. Here are 23 marvellous facts about the small but mighty mockingbird!

23 Amazing Mockingbird Facts

23 Amazing Mockingbird Facts
  1. Mockingbirds (Mimus) are a genus of New World passerine birds belonging to the family Mimidae, who are known for their ability to imitate other sounds and calls in their own songs. There are 17 known species of mockingbird. 
  2. Mockingbirds are found in the wild throughout North, South, and Central America, and the Caribbean. They are one of the only bird species which can thrive equally well in almost every habitat, from sprawling urban cities to barren deserts, to tropical rainforests, to mountain ranges. 
  3. The genus name Mimus translates literally to ‘mimic’. The most common mockingbird is the Northern Mockingbird, found in North America. Its Latin name Mimus Polyglottos is Greek for ‘many languages’, meaning the Northern Mockingbird is the ‘bird of many languages’. 
  4. In the wild, the average lifespan of a mockingbird is around eight years, but in captivity or when kept as domestic pets they have been known to reach 20 years old! 
  5. The Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador, are home to four species of mockingbird which are found nowhere else on Earth. These Galapagos mockingbirds were critical in the development of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. On an expedition to the islands in 1835, Darwin observed that the mockingbirds differed slightly on each island, whilst still maintaining some resemblance to those on the mainland. This revelation led Darwin to explore the possibilities that species could change and develop over time, eventually leading to the publication of his landmark book about evolution, On the Origin of Species.
  6. During the 19th century, mockingbirds became popular pets, prized for their impressive musical repertoires. Poaching for the illegal pet trade drastically reduced population numbers in the wild. A bird with a particularly impressive inventory of sounds could command a price of $50 (which is around $1,300 in today’s money!).  
  7. The Floreana Mockingbird (Mimus trifasciatus) is one of the world’s rarest species of bird. They are the only Mockingbird species that do not imitate other sounds. Once a thriving avian population on the Floreana island of the Galapagos, the species are now limited to two tiny islets. Invasive species of cats and rats are blamed for the decline of the species, and it is thought that only about 250 individuals now remain.  
  8. Mockingbirds generally live in pairs and once they find a mate, they will remain monogamous for the rest of their lives. Mated pairs will have two or three broods every year, and each brood consists of up to six eggs. Around ten days after they hatch, mockingbird chicks are independent and ready to fly the nest. Mockingbirds are known for breeding rampantly. One female was recorded as laying 27 eggs during a single breeding season! 
  9. Male and female mockingbirds have fairly equal gender roles when it comes to domestic issues. Both parents will help to feed their young together. When building their nests, the pair will work collaboratively, with the male constructing the outer structure from twigs whilst the female will work on lining the nest with softer materials. 
  10. Mockingbirds are best known for their ability to mimic the calls of other birds and wildlife such as frogs. But they can almost imitate any sound, including alarms, barking dogs, rusty hinges, and machinery. Usually, however, they will mimic sounds that are most similar in pitch and rhythm to their own vocalisations.mockingbirds facts
  11. Both male and female mockingbirds sing by mimicking, but males sing much louder and more frequently than females. 
  12. Mockingbirds are rather unremarkable in appearance. Most species are only about 10 inches in length and brown or grey in colour, often with white flashes on their wings or bodies, which they will display when trying to attract a mate or defend their territory. Their somewhat drab plumage belies their diverse and melodic singing abilities and their feisty personalities. 
  13. Mockingbirds are omnivorous. They prefer to eat the meat of other animals during the warmer months, such as insects, caterpillars, the eggs of other birds, and even small crabs and lizards! During the winter when food supplies are scarce, they will resort to eating berries, nuts, and seeds which are more readily available.
  14. Mockingbirds are well known for their intelligence. Studies have found that they are able to recognise human faces, and can differentiate between strangers and people they have a prior relationship with, particularly if they perceived that person as a threat. They exhibit defensive behaviour towards people who they recognise as a threat and will ignore humans to which they have no prior relationship. 
  15. Because of their intelligence, Mockingbirds can learn to mimic a new sound within ten minutes of hearing it! They are the only birds that are capable of learning over 200 songs during their lifetime. Most birds only possess the capacity to learn songs whilst they are infants and lose this ability as they enter adulthood. Mockingbirds are distinct in that they continue learning to create new sounds all throughout their lives in a process known as ‘open-ended learning’. 
  16. Aside from their intelligence, mockingbirds are notorious for their almost indiscriminate aggression towards anything that they believe to be threatening them. They are fiercely protective of their territory and will go to great lengths to defend it. They are known to act aggressively towards other birds, other animals such as cats and dogs, and even humans! Mockingbirds will dive-bomb and attack humans who they feel are threatening their nests or territories. Interestingly, studies have shown that mockingbirds are more prone to aggression when they are living in areas with higher concentrations of lead in the soil of the surrounding environment.mockingbird fact
  17. Mockingbirds are the state birds of five states; Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. Texas chose the mockingbird because of its fierce protection over its family and territory, and willingness to fight to the death if need be. A trait which the state felt its citizens shared with the bird. 
  18. The White House has seen many weird and wonderful pets come and go since the establishment of the American Presidency in 1789, but one of the first, and most dearly beloved, was Thomas Jefferson’s mockingbird, named Dick. In fact, Jefferson kept four pet mockingbirds whilst in office, but Dick was by far his favourite. Dick would often perch on Jefferson’s shoulder whilst he worked and would sing along in harmony as Jefferson played his violin. 
  19. Mockingbirds are infamous for singing loudly, well into the middle of the night throughout the spring and summer seasons, much to many people’s annoyance. It is only unmated males who sing nocturnally, however, as they attempt to attract a female during the warm breeding season. As the season wears on, the singing will likely become louder and more frantic as the male mockingbird becomes ever more desperate to find a mate in time for winter. 
  20. Singing is not strictly reserved for romance, however. Mockingbirds are also known to use their songs as a way to defend their territory, warding off potential predators or rival birds. When using their songs as a defensive mechanism, both male and female mockingbirds will sing. They will also ‘dance’ around wildly, flapping their wings and hopping up and down in an attempt to intimidate the intruder. 
  21. mockingbird facts
  22. Scientists have discovered that female mockingbirds are most attracted to males who have a larger inventory of calls and songs, so the more sounds a male can mimic, the better his chances of finding a mate. Some males have hundreds of different sounds, calls, and songs in their repertoire.
  23. In popular culture, mockingbirds are perhaps best known for Harper Lee’s classic novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, despite there being no actual mockingbirds in the book. In fact, the ‘mockingbirds’ are intended as a metaphoric representation of stolen innocence throughout the story, as in real life, mockingbirds are innocent beings who sing beautifully and mean no harm. 
  24. Native American communities place great symbolic and mythological importance on the mockingbird. In some communities, the mockingbird is said to have been vital to creation because it taught humans to speak. In other communities, it is thought that mockingbirds are the guardians of the dead, protecting people after they pass on. For others, mockingbirds symbolise mediation and diplomacy, because of their excellent communication skills. 
See also
How to Attract Flying Squirrels ( So They Keep Coming Back!)

The mighty mockingbird is certainly a bird with many quirks. Its intelligence and musical capabilities are seemingly unmatched among avians, and they are sure to proudly showcase their impressive mimicry skills both day and night, whether we humans like it or not! Despite its small and unassuming appearance, its fearless aggression towards predators and fierce loyalty to its partner are surely traits to be respected. The feisty mockingbird is certainly one bird not to be mocked!

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