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Mockingbirds and Their Excellent Mimicry of Sounds

Updated on March 20, 2018
Peggy W profile image

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

Northern Mockingbird
Northern Mockingbird | Source

Listen to the Mockingbird

On the last couple of walks that my hubby and I have taken and also when working in our own yard and garden, I have been particularly noticing that the mockingbirds have been really active of late in mimicking other bird songs. It is fun to hear!

They will repeat one sound anywhere from 2 to 8 times or so and then shift to another bird sound and do the same thing. Often within a minute or less they will have made the noise of 6 or 8 different birds! They also make other noises like mimicking squeaky gates or even sirens and alarms.

Northern Mockingbird
Northern Mockingbird | Source

I well remember my Great Uncle Ed relaxing while sitting in a lawn chair in McAllen, Texas. He would purposely make whistling sounds which a mockingbird would repeat.

It amused him so much that I can still imagine seeing the twinkle in his eye.

Northern Mockingbird rangemap

Approximate range/distribution map of the Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos). In keeping with WikiProject: Birds guidelines, yellow indicates the summer-only range, blue indicates the winter-only range, and green indicates the year-round range
Approximate range/distribution map of the Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos). In keeping with WikiProject: Birds guidelines, yellow indicates the summer-only range, blue indicates the winter-only range, and green indicates the year-round range | Source

Northern Mockingbird Range

I do not remember hearing the mockingbird songs in central Wisconsin when we used to live there.

The northern mockingbirds do live in our part of Texas year round and can be a delight for the senses.

Looking at the range map above it is no wonder that I never got to hear them when we were living in Wisconsin. Only the very bottom tip of the state could possibly have had some of them visiting in the summer months.

That being said there are some written reports that have mockingbirds visiting as far north as Canada in the summertime.

Northern Mockingbird in Houston, Texas
Northern Mockingbird in Houston, Texas | Source

We lived further north in the state when I was a child living in Oconomowoc and going to school in the small town of Okauchee.

When my husband and I lived in central Wisconsin for four years as adults we lived even further north of those locations. Never did we see or hear the sound of this type of bird in those environs.

Facts regarding the Northern Mockingbird

  1. These are highly intelligent birds which can mimic many different sounds. While both birds (male and female) sing, it is the male of the species which does most of it whether during courtship or just for the plain joy of making songs which can last all day and into the night.
  2. As you can see from the photos their color is mostly gray on top with a whitish underside. Their long black tail has white outer feathers and they also have white wing bars. If you look closely at their eyes you will notice that they are a yellowish orange color with a black band extending back from their black beak towards the eye.
  3. These birds are monogamous and mate for life which can be around 8 years in the wild. Some people have kept them as pets in which case their life can extend many more years up to 20 or so.
  4. One famous person who had a pet mockingbird was past United States President Thomas Jefferson. The name he gave his bird was "Dick."
  5. A clutch of eggs ranges from 2 to 6 and the eggs as can be seen in this accompanying photo are greenish in color with splotches of a reddish tinged brown.
  6. Nesting sites are usually shrubs or trees but these mockingbirds will also lay eggs in other birds nests and let those birds feed their young. If the nests are their own both parents take up the responsibility of feeding their young.
  7. Northern mockingbirds have a diet that is omnivorous. They dine on insects from butterflies to ants. etc., but also enjoy eating worms, fruits and berries.

Northern Mockingbird eggs
Northern Mockingbird eggs | Source

Northern Mockingbirds

Do you get to hear the Northern Mockingbirds singing and mimicking other sounds where you live?

See results

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird
Northern Mockingbird | Source

Northern Mockingbird

The Northern Mockingbird is the State Bird of which of these states?

See results
Northern Mockingbird
Northern Mockingbird | Source

Mockingbird Song

Carly Simon and James Taylor performed the song Mockingbird in a concert in New York City in 1979.

You can see images and hear it in the video below.

Are any of you old enough to remember this song or these singers and performers?

Song called Mockingbird

State Bird

For those of you who did some guessing on the poll above as to the Northern Mockingbird being the State Bird of which state...here is the answer.

It is the State Bird of every state mentioned above. Obviously whoever the people are who choose such designations they all became enamored with this bird who so eloquently and very convincingly mimics countless other sounds.

The older a bird gets the more songs are added to its repertoire. The mockingbird obviously has a great memory and likes to show off!

Northern Mockingbird in Houston, Texas
Northern Mockingbird in Houston, Texas | Source

State Bird

Did you guess correctly which state or states is the State Bird designation for the northern mockingbird?

See results

Fascinating look at a pair of mockingbirds incubating their eggs and raising their young to fledgling stage captured on film.

© 2016 Peggy Woods

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    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      6 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Rajan,

      Mockingbirds certainly do seem to enjoy mimicking many different sounds. It is an interesting takeaway you got from watching that last video. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      6 weeks ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Very informative article about the mockingbird, the mimicry bird, as I would like to call it. Both the videos were excellent but I think the second video gives a great lesson for us humans on how to bring up our children and when to let go. Amazing!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      7 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi C E Clark,

      I agree that nature is amazing and mockingbirds are just a small part of it. Thanks for your comment and the shares.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      7 weeks ago from North Texas

      I was just reading about lyrebirds the other day. They also mimic the sounds around them, including the sounds of cameras, motorcycles, chainsaws, and more. They're much larger than mockingbirds. Isn't nature grand? So many different species with so many differences and yet some have commonalities as well.

      I like the mockingbirds that are the state bird here in Texas. Their personalities seem so practical and no nonsense. The lyrebird is cool too -- I forgot where they live.

      Posting this article to FB and to my own board labeled "Birds."

      Autumn seems to be here at last! Hope it will last several weeks instead of turning to winter too soon, as is often the case. Hope all is well with you and that you too are getting a reprieve from the awful heat and humidity.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Ethel,

      I am glad you liked learning about mockingbirds. They can be very entertaining.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      2 months ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Enjoyable and informative hub. Enjoyed the polls and videos too thanks Peggy

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Patricia,

      I am happy to hear that you have a few mockingbirds in your yard this summer. They are fun birds to listen to when they are mimicking all kinds of sounds. Wishing you and your family many blessings.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      4 months ago from sunny Florida

      Enjoyed this so much...I have a few who are hanging out in my yard this summer....simply fascinated by them. So much you shared I did not know so you have helped to fill some of my gray matter in my headbone....

      Angels and blessings on the way ps

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      11 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Jackie,

      We do not have a bird feeder because there is plenty of natural things for birds in this area to feed upon year round. We do however have a birdbath. Now that you mentioned not seeing mockingbirds at your bird feeder, I don't think that I have spotted any at our birdbath either. We regularly see bluejays, doves, cardinals, robins when they are here, sparrows and even squirrels which occasionally take a drink. I even spotted a woodpecker one day sitting on the side of the birdbath leaning in to take a drink.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      11 months ago from The Beautiful South

      Am still enjoying my mockingbirds. The must really be multiplying more than others for they are more in abundance. Strange, they do not come to my feeder though a variety of others do, but they seem to prefer the ground for feeding, whatever is there!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      11 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Patricia,

      Sorry to know you cannot hear the mockingbirds where you now live. They are most entertaining! I just checked the video and it appears to still be working. Sending good thoughts your way!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      11 months ago from sunny Florida

      O that little Northern Mockingbird had a lot to share did he not? I love that. I so adore listening to birds when I am out working in my yard or when I walk. I have not heard a mockingbird in many years. Well done...I could not get the bird documentary video to play but will try again later. Many blessings and Angels are on the way ps

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      12 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Shyron,

      Many states including ours have the mockingbird as their state bird. It is much appreciated for its beauty and the sounds that it makes. I know that I always like hearing it.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you!

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      12 months ago from Texas

      I am back to look at these beautiful birds again, this is such a wonderful hub about our state bird.

      Blessings my friend.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      12 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Rochelle,

      Nice that you got to enjoy the antics of mockingbirds when you lived in Southern California. They would be hard to forget!

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      12 months ago from California Gold Country

      Yes, I do miss Mockingbirds. I grew up in Southern California in a spot where they were plentiful. Thogh they were a bit aggressive toward other birds (protecting their own, I think) they were always interesting. Beautiful bird-- we don't have them where I live now.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      12 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Roberta,

      I do think that they also delight in the sounds that they make. Shenanigans is a good word for it. So glad you enjoyed reading about these creatures called mockingbirds.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      12 months ago from the short journey

      Though the mockingbird is convincing in its simulations there's no doubt that they take real joy in their shenanigans. Doing what they were designed to do, they also delight their hearers, as proved by your uncle's twinkle. A neat look at a delightful creature!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      16 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Dolores,

      It is quite amazing the sounds that can be replicated by mocking birds. I'm not surprised that a cell phone could be mimicked by one.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      16 months ago from East Coast, United States

      I love mocking birds and how their song is so complicated. Years ago when cell phones were sort of new, I used to walk around an area of my neighborhood and noticed how every time I was there, I'd hear a cell phone. That was when they all pretty much sounded the same. It took quite a while before I realized that the sound was not a phone but a mockingbird!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Ann,

      I'll bet that guy with a chough or chuff on his shoulder walking about in town certainly got some looks. Would have been fun to see! Thanks for explaining that the bird is related to the crow.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello chef-de-jour,

      I do think that mockingbirds must be intelligent to pick up all those different sounds, remember them and then reproduce them at will. Sounds like you have some fun listening to the birds where you live. My hubby and I visited a nature preserve in our area today and heard lots of birds. We spotted cardinals, doves and the other ones we saw I am not sure what they were. We heard lots of bird calls and songs however! Thanks for the share.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      The chough (chuff) is related to the crow. I knew a lad who had one as a pet back in the late 50s; it perched on his shoulder as he walked around the village!

    • chef-de-jour profile image

      Andrew Spacey 

      2 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Thank you for this insightful hub, enjoyed it. Such a bright eyed bird is the mockingbird. I can see from the photos that this avian has a specialist role - to listen and absorb the songs and sounds of its immediate environment. What a gift! It must have a complex brain to assimilate so many different sounds and express them in its own unique way. Fascinating. Here in the UK we have starlings and they're capable of a limited mimicry - pipes and whistles and flutey sounds they pick up from the blackbird and thrushes and other songbirds. Occasionally I hear a local blackbird song that is what you might call normal - a la Beatles song about the same bird - beautiful flowing relaxed melodic - but then I'll hear a mobile phone tone or electronic alarm type sound the bird has somehow picked up! Comical, musical.

      Sharing this bird!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Jodah,

      You certainly have your share of noisemakers by way of interesting birds in Australia. I am going to look up that lyrebird right now. I had previously looked up the kookaburra and listened to its laughing-like sound. Glad you liked this hub about northern mockingbirds.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      I don't think we have mockingbirds here in Australia, at least where I live, but we do have cat birds, whip birds, bell birds, kookaburras. Avian novice is right about the lyrebird they can mimic almost any sound including a chainsaw. Very interesting hub however about a very popular bird especially being the state bird of so many US states. Great videos too.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Ann,

      So glad you liked this. I am familiar with starlings but never heard of a Chough bird. Will have to look that one up. Thanks for the share.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello aviannovice,

      You certainly know your birds! I will have to look up the bird you mentioned in response to peachpurple. It must really make a racket when it sings! :)

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      What a wonderful bird. Of course, I knew of its existence but never knew it had such a wide repertoire. They are so entertaining.

      The birds which mimic the most in Britain are the Starling (widespread) and the Chough (in the crow family but not nearly so common). Starlings mimic phones, cars and just about any sounds around them. They are amusing to hear and to watch.

      I'm a keen bird-watcher and I love this hub. Sharing.

      Ann

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Glad to see that you are writing about some of your local birds. The mocker is a fascinating character, as well as a bit of a troublemaker at times. Brown Thrasher also does the same thing, and they bear watching, too. Tell peach purple that the Superb Lyrebird is the king of sounds, even more so than the Kookaburra.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi peachpurple,

      I am not sure mockingbirds live where kookaburra birds do but I am sure they would try to replicate that laughing sound if they did live near one another. They are great mimics.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Randy,

      They must nest around our home or our neighbor's yards also because we always have them performing their songs on a frequent basis. They can get to be a bit vociferous!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Alicia,

      We never saw mockingbirds when we lived in Wisconsin either but surely do enjoy them now. So glad to hear that you enjoyed this and are sharing it with others.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 

      2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      mocking birds are very cute, do they mock like a kukubarra ?

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 

      2 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Our mockingbirds--we always have a pair nesting in our backyard--also have been rather vociferous lately. Enjoyed the hub and they are rather special birds. :)

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I love reading nature hubs like this. The mockingbird is a bird that I would very much like to see in real life. Thanks for sharing the photos, videos and information, Peggy. I'll share this interesting article.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Shyron,

      What thrilled your husband is what kept my Uncle Ed so gratified as well. He had so much fun with the mockingbirds replicating his whistling sounds. :)

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Blonde Logic,

      Nice that you have other types of mockingbirds living where you do. It is amazing the sounds that mockingbirds can replicate.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Greetings B. Leekley,

      Catbirds are probably fun to watch and listen to their bird sounds. The mockingbirds surely are fun and we have many of them where we now live.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      2 years ago from Texas

      Peggy, this is one of my favorite and is my hubby's very favorite birds. when we first moved to Texas one would sit on the roof and mimic my hubby's whistling, which was thrilling.

      This is a beautiful hub.

      Blessings my friend.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      2 years ago from Brazil

      Interesting hub.

      We don't get the northern mockingbird where I live but we have a family of tropical mocking birds which always seem to be hanging around our place. They do have a variety of sounds. I once thought it was the monkeys outside and when I went out to see them, it was just the mockingbirds. They also make some hissing sounds as well .

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Frank,

      So glad you liked this hub. We surely do enjoy our mockingbirds! :)

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Growing up in northeast Illinois, we didn't have mockingbirds but did have catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis), which are also in the mimidae bird family. I have admired mockingbird songs on my travels.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      2 years ago from Shelton

      again Peggy W you hit the bird lover in me right in the gut.. I love the photos.. and the hub.. awesome

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Jackie,

      Like you I have never thought to capture them on my digital camera. I simply enjoy their antics and songs (noises) they sing and replicate.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Very interesting! I love these little bird too and I see them flashing around everywhere. I saw a pair mating I guess it was last spring and they did the wildest and flashiest dance. (Unless it was two makes.) Too bad I didn't get to capture that!

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