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August 1st, 2019

Northern Mockingbird

State Bird of Texas

Texas designated the mockingbird as the official state bird in 1927. The Texas legislature noted that the mockingbird; "... is found in all parts of the State, in winter and in summer, in the city and in the country, on the prairie and in the woods and hills ... is a singer of distinctive type, a fighter for the protection of his home, falling, if need be, in its defense, like any true Texan ..."

Mockingbird Calls

If you just happen to hear a beautiful series of bird calls from somewhere in your yard, you might be in the delightful presence of a northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos). If you hear one, you can easily tell what kind of mood it's in, whether it's happy, agitated, or threatened. Happy calls are more like bird songs, but when threatened or disturbed, there's a short, light screeching quality to the call.

Mockingbirds have an abundance of energy when it comes to their calls. Their name says it all, as they hold nothing back when adopting the sounds of other birds into their repertoire of musical compositions. Their calls can easily change in response to many different sounds from other birds, as well as other wildlife. Indeed, the mockingbird is a bird with the unique ability to sing along with other birds note for note, and is also an intelligent bird, recognizing past places, events, and sounds.

Singing at Night

Calls will change in accordance to their activity, and they're not afraid to audibly express whatever's on their mind. You can easily tell just by listening to a mockingbird that something is going on at the moment. Even a lonely male will make it obvious, as they refuse to sleep, and instead decide to stay up at night singing to human insomniacs. In the warm summer months, singing at night is common in their attempts to attract a female.

Yes, tempo changes of mockingbird are not uncommon, as their vivacious and reactive nature often reflect whatever is going on at the moment. They can be quite a chatterbox. Whether they're being threatened, or in the company of their mate, a mockingbird will broadcast it's state of mind day and night.

The territorial nature of a mockingbird causes it to make a series of short scratchy chat calls to ward off intruders, and other mockingbirds as well. Both the male and female will calm down when things are peaceful, and their calls are more subtle during nesting periods.

History

The Mockingbird was a common pet from the late 1700s to the early 1900s. After the cagebird trade was stopped, the Mockingbird made a come-back in many areas, especially in Texas.

Diet

If a mockingbird finds your backyard feeder, it wasn't because it detected the smell of high quality suet or seed, rather, it was because it visually recognized the shape and color of the feeder. You can bet that a mockingbird knows the exact location of all the neighborhood bird feeders.

The Chiltepin is the official State Native Pepper of Texas. Chiltepin Chiles are a small berry-shaped chile pepper and grow naturally in the Texas wild. And what about'em,. well, the Northern Mockingbird loves them. They gobble them up! If you have a Chiltepin plant somewhere in your yard, a mockingbird is sure to find it. During recent decades, the mockingbird has expanded its numbers, and may be in part due to the thriving and widespread Chiltepin Chiles, a source of favorite food.

Mockingbird Behaviors

Mockingbirds are always a pleasure to have around, not just for their sounds but for their behaviors. They like to run, dart, hop and perform flying maneuvers that compare somewhat to a purple martin. The stripped patterns on their wings seem to come alive when they flap their wings, making them very noticeable during flight.

Northern Mockingbirds are territorial, and they sometimes perform daring aerial displays in their attempt to harass birds that invade their airspace, flying high and low around them, even dive bombing toward them. Even hawks are no exception. They're just as brave on the ground too, racing toward them in a full gallop, and flapping their wings all at the same time.

It's always a delight to be in the presence of a northern Mockingbird. And their presence is easy to detect, as their appearance and sounds make it obvious that they are close. When they sing, their sound fragments can be quite lyrical. It's also fun to watch them on the ground, as they jump into the air, fan and flap their wings, then landing in the same spot. That's how you can easily identify them. So if you happen to see one, make sure to enjoy the sight of their unique features, such as their grey body and distinct feather patterns. It's almost as if they like showing off their white patches underneath.

Yes, a mockingbird sings and chirps in so many different sounds, and is a pleasure to to listen to all day long. Once you notice a mockingbird, you'll never forget it. Regardless of their periodic crankiness, the northern mockingbird is well appreciated and is recognized as the state bird in Texas and several other states as well.

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