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Florida State Bird - Mockingbird

 

Mockingbird

(Mimus polyglottos)
Adopted in 1927.

Senate Concurrent Resolution No.3 of the 1927 legislative session designated the mockingbird as the State Bird.

The Mimus polyglottos, as the mockingbird is known scientifically, is about ten inches in length, including its relatively long tail. It has a light gray coat and a whitish underside. Its wings and tail are darker gray with white patches. The male and females look alike. Juvenile has spotted breast.

The common mockingbird is a superb songbird and mimic. Its own song has a pleasant lilt, varied and repetitive. Often it will sing all night long, especially in bright springtime moonlight. Unmated male mockingbirds sing more than mated ones. Both sexes sing in the fall to claim winter feeding territories. These areas are often different than their spring breeding territories.

The song of the mockingbird is, in fact, a medley of the calls of many other birds, each repeated several times. It will imitate other species' songs and calls, squeaky gates, pianos, sirens, barking dogs, etc. Each imitation is repeated two or three times, then another song is started, all in rapid succession. In the above sample audio file, the songs of four distinct species were recorded in the span of about seven seconds. It is common for an individual bird to have as many as 25-30 songs in its repertory.

The mockingbird is also known as a fierce protector of its nest and environment. It is sometimes seen swooping down on a dog, cat or predator that may be venturing too close to the bird's protected territory.

Abundance: Common urban bird

Length: 10 inches

Weight: 1¾ ounces

Wing Span: 14 inches

General description: Diurnal, omnivore, altricial

Sexual maturity : 1 year

Mating season: Spring and early summer. Mockingbirds usually nest twice a year sometimes 3 or 4 times when conditions are favorable.

Breeding territory: 1 pair per 20 acres

Gestation: Eggs hatch in 12-13 days, the young fledge 11-13 days after that.

Number of young: Eggs are blue-green with brown markings. The 2-6, usually 3-5, eggs per nest are a pale blue-greenish with brown spots.

Nest Location: Ground-low nesting

Nest Type: Open-cup The nest, a joint male/female project, is a bulky, open cup of grass, twigs and rootlets carelessly arranged in a dense.

Migration Status: Permanent resident. This year-round resident is known for its fierce defense of the family nest.

Diet: Mockingbirds require open grassy areas for their feeding, thick, thorny shrubs for hiding the nest and high perches where the male can sing and defend his territory. Gardens are among its favorite dwelling places especially if winter berries are available. The Mockingbird's primary diet is insects (beetles, ants, grasshoppers and spiders),berries and seed.

Facts:

  • Only unmated males sing at night.
  • Mockingbirds often form long-term pair bonds.
  • Mockingbirds vigorously defend their territory against many other species including dogs, cats and man!
  • Female mockingbirds often build a new nest while the males finish feeding older fledglings and teaching them to fly.
  • Scientists have found that female mockingbirds are attracted to males that can make the most different sounds.
  • Mockingbirds are the state bird of Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas and one of the few birds found in every kind of habitat, from desert to forest to city.
  • Mockingbirds are thought to raise and lower their wings in order to scare up a meal of insects, frighten snakes and impress their mates.

Taxonomic Hierarchy 

Kingdom Animalia -- animals
   Phylum Chordata -- chordates
      Subphylum Vertebrata -- vertebrates
         Class Aves -- birds
            Order Passeriformes -- perching birds
               Family Sturnidae -- starlings
                  Genus Mimus Boie, 1826 -- mockingbirds
                     Species Mimus polyglottos (Linnaeus, 1758) -- Centzontle norteño, northern mockingbird

 



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