Thursday, May 24, 2012

Northern Mockingbird

Erika took this photograph of a Northern Mockingbird at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge near Mission, Texas. Mockingbirds are found throughout the United States and most of Mexico. Although they are becoming less common in southern parts of their range, mockingbirds have been increasing in the north. They are occasionally reported from Minnesota, the Dakotas, and even southern Canada.

Their spread northward is attributed to increasing suburbs and secondary habitats. Mockingbirds will eat almost any fruit or arthropod. Both male and female mockingbirds sing. Males often sing over 150 distinct song types, which change and increase as birds age (Farnsworth et al. 2011). They imitate other bird songs and even non-avian species. I have heard mockingbirds imitate the sounds of passing trains. One explanation is that, as mockingbirds are omnivores, their varied repertoire discourages competition from other birds in the neighborhood.

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