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The Northern Mockingbird Will Make You Think You're Crazy
The Jig Is Up
See this bird? Keep it in your mind visually, as it is known as an imposter, the Great Impersonator, Many Tongued, mocker, and a host of other names that mean virtually the same thing. Welcome to the world of the Northern Mockingbird. I will only discuss this bird today, for there are many other imitators, but not quite to the same degree that this one is. This bird is very unique.
This little guy was doing aerial displays for a potential mate. As I recall, he was in the same area for about a week trying to attract a mate with his vocal repertoire and somersaults. Northern Mockingbirds have been known to so skillfully imitate sounds such as sirens, ringing telephones, barking dogs, and gate hinges that acoustical analyses could not differentiate between the original sound and the bird. Pretty impressive, yes? It gets better. These birds have been known to do long nocturnal serenades and can sing 1,000 songs per hour. The second photo in this section shows the mockingbird doing another type of display by opening and closing his wings as he walks forward. I have seen some of these birds do this displaying for days, as well as the aerial dance.
Mockingbirds will aggressively defend their nests and are known to attack and mob potential predators and people who happen to get too close. I was told by a neighbor that a pair used to nest in a bush that she had on the edge of her property. Her next door neighbor always used to walk by there, and during nesting season, the female would always come after her and chase her home. By the same token, if a new person walks by, they will ignore that individual.
Brooding and Food
Mockingbirds will have two or three broods a year, and the broods will overlap with the female incubating the eggs while the male feeds the young from the previous brood. Their diet consists equally of fruit, spiders and insects. Their favorite fruits are rose hips, grapes, elderberries, apples, and hawthorns. They favor ants, bees, grasshoppers, beetles, and wasps for insects. They often visit feeding stations, especially in the winter, when they will enjoy fruit, suet, mealworms, and a few seeds. They also will tend to bully other birds away from the area, even if the feeding station contains foods that they don't particularly like.
A Young Bird Doesn't Look Much Different
This is a young mockingbird. Notice the nearly non-existent tail? That is a dead giveaway for a youthful bird for this particular species. I have another young bird near where I live, and he generally greets me a couple of times a day when I take my greyhound out. He stands on the Dish Network satellite and gives me several bold "chek" calls. Every time I try to grab the camera after the dog's outing, he has usually disappeared.
These birds have adapted very well to the disturbed habitats created by humanity. They thrive in villages, towns, suburbia, and farmlands. They additionally form long term pair bonds. Males will perform a display where they face each other and hop sideways, trying to keep other birds out of the territory.
When nesting, the nest is usually on the fork of a tree or shrub 3-10 feet above ground, built by both sexes. The nest is comprised of fabric, stems, grasses, sticks, and string, lined with finer material and constructed in the shape of a cup. Between two and six eggs will be laid.
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I was informed by a Stillwater, OK resident that on Sunday, June 24, she witnessed a Northern Mockingbird diving after a cat trying to eat its food. The happened twice, no less. Later on that day, the bird chased another cat and its kitten that have been hunting birds. Now, tell me that bird doesn't pay attention?