Northern mockingbird

Mimus polyglottos

TAXONOMY

Turdus polyglottos Linnaeus, 1758, Carolina. Three subspecies. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Mockingbird; mocking thrush; French: Moqueur polyglotte; German: Spottdrossel; Spanish: Sinsonte Común.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

9-10 in (23-25.5 cm); 1.3-2 oz (36.2-55.7 g). Plumage generally gray, wings and tail darker gray with pale edgings to coverts, white flash on primaries and white outer rectrices. Eye yellow, bill black with paler base, legs dusky. Juvenile with obscure spots on chest.

DISTRIBUTION

M. p. polyglottos: eastern North America from east Nebraska to Nova Scotia, south to east Texas and Florida; M. p. leucopterus: western North America from northwest Nebraska and west

Texas to the Pacific coast, south throughout Mexico to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec; M. p. orpheus: Bahama Islands, Greater Antilles east to Virgin Is. Vagrant to Great Britain; introduced to Hawaiian Islands.

HABITAT

Open bushland, well-vegetated suburban areas, abandoned farmland, orchards.

BEHAVIOR

Self-assured and conspicuous. Spends most of its time on the ground or in low vegetation. During breeding season very aggressive, not hesitating to attack predators such as cats and crows. Song is a loud, very varied series of strong musical notes, frequently including imitations of other species, sometimes repeated over and over; often sings at night, especially in urban settings.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Food includes both animal (mostly invertebrate, but including small lizards) and vegetable matter (especially berries).

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Nest is an open cup, the base of dead twigs, built mainly by the male, the lining of grasses added by the female, usually less than 10 ft (3 m) from the ground in shrubs. Eggs two to six, base-color bluish or greenish white or somewhat darker, with brownish markings. Incubation by female alone, 12-13 days. Fed by both parents, fledging period 12-15days. Two or three broods per year.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. Over most of its range common or abundant. Has adapted well to human situations and probably expanded as forest was cleared; has benefited from plantings of such species as multiflora roses.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Little economic significance. A popular species, widely celebrated in literature and the state bird of Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Florida, and Tennessee. ♦

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