When new birders are learning the bird songs, Northern Mockingbirds can be very annoying! Each bird will sing 10-15 different songs and both the female and the male sing. These rather plain gray birds sing endlessly, even at night. To add more confusion for new birders, Northern Mockingbirds continue to add sounds and songs to their repertory throughout their lives. It has been estimated a male mockingbird may learn about 200 songs and sounds during its life.
Because of this musical talent, they were nearly extirpated from parts of the east coast in the early 1900s. People took fledglings and trapped the adults to sell in cities like New York, Philadelphia and St. Louis. In 1928 these talented singers could bring as much as $50.00.
The Northern Mockingbird is found in shrubby areas with open grassy spots. Shrubs that form thickets and produce berries are their favorites. You can find Northern Mockingbirds in parkland, cultivated land, suburban areas and in second growth habitat at low elevations.
Northern Mockingbirds eat mainly insects in summer but switch to eating mostly fruit in fall and winter. What this means for you is that you must create a backyard bird habitat to attract them to your yard.
Start by planting shrubs and hedges that produce fruit and will become quite thick. Try to pick native plants, although mockingbirds will eat ornamental berries. The mockingbirds that clean off the pyracantha berries from our thickets are already establishing territories although the berries are still green.
We use our recycled oriole feeder to feed raisins to the mockingbirds and birds have taken mealworms from other cups in our recycled oriole feeder. It is always a thrill to see the flash of white in their wings as they approach the feeder.
We also have a four tiered bird pond that recycles water throughout the system. This is a magnet for the Northern Mockingbird. They seem to enjoy the splash from one tier to the next. The less dominate mockingbirds take turns at the bird bath, pretending they can’t see each other.
The Northern Mockingbird population has rebounded from their low counts in the nineteen hundreds, and even though the mockingbirds in our yard have waken me on more than one morning, I for one know that I am going to have a good day when I hear that song.