More Than a Common Songbird

Northern Mockingbird in Palo Verde branches

Northern Mockingbird is a fancy, flamboyant song bird. With a sleek silhouette, and elegant grey plumage, Mockingbird has an outsized attitude, and you’ll know if you’ve wandered into a mocker’s nesting territory. Mockingbirds defend their nest aggressively, dive- bombing people, dogs, other birds, snakes, you name it. 

But Mockingbird is also impressive for his song. Clear liquid notes are combined in an amazing range of compositions. Mockingbirds mimic other birds and other sounds they hear, and mix these with their own melodies, making them into songs. The male keeps composing songs and adding them to his repertoire over his whole lifetime.  He may end up with 200 songs.  He sings tirelessly, all day and into the night when the moon is out.  Females sing too, but more quietly, using their songs to establish winter territories rather than during breeding season. 

Mockingbirds hop and run on the ground to catch insects, as well as nabbing them in the air. They also eat a wide range of fruits from native plants such as cacti, wolfberry, hackberry and mistletoe to fruits from cultivated plants in suburban yards. 

Northern Mockingbird fledglings leave the nest about a week before they are able to fly, running on the ground and climbing into nearby bushes for safety. Mom and Dad keep a close eye on them, bringing them food and warding off intruders. 

The male takes a break from this extended care and builds the outer shell of a new nest while the female continues with feeding duty. Then he returns to caring for the fledglings while she finishes the interior of the nest, lays 2-6 new eggs and incubates them. The pair may raise up to four broods between March and August in the desert.

Mockingbirds enjoy the water fountain
Mockingbird fledgling in Creosote bush in on a hot day in May

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