August 1st, 2019
State Bird of Texas
Texas designated the Northern Mockingbird as the official state bird in 1927. The Texas legislature noted the following..
"... 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 ..."
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 Mockingbirds are not uncommon, as their vivacious and reactive nature often reflect their activities. 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.
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.
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 itself. You can bet that a Mockingbird will find any newly mounted bird feeder, whether it's been up for a week or only a few days, it will find it. Indeed, the precise instincts of a Mockingbird will tell it the exact size, shape and color of most types of 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.
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, sometimes dive bombing toward them. Even hawks are no exception. And when there's any kind of threat on the ground, they're just as brave, as they sometimes race straight toward danger in a full gallop while flapping their wings all at the same time. Yes, Mockingbirds know how to make a ruckus!
Performing, or just showing off?..
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 land 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, white underbelly, and distinct feather patterns. Indeed, they like showing off. It's almost as if they know you're watching.
A Mockingbird sings and chirps in many different sounds, and it's a pleasure to listen to them all day long. Once you notice one, you'll never forget it. Regardless of their periodic crankiness, the Northern Mockingbird is well appreciated and is recognized as the State Bird of Texas, and several other states as well. Next, read about Peacocks in Southern California»