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Northern Mockingbird - The American Nightingale

Photos and article by Charly Mann

Greatest Impressionist
The world's greatest impressionist, the Northern Mockingbird, singing the song of another bird species 

In the Human world comedy impressionists like Rich Little, Fred Travalena, and Frank Gorshin made millions of dollars imitating the voice of celebrities and politicians. But the real master impressionist is the Northern Mockingbird who can so perfectly imitate the songs of more than 50 species of birds that neither an experienced bird watcher or electronic analysis can distinguish the real bird's song from the Mockingbirds' mimicry. Not only that but Northern Mockingbirds can also perfectly recreate a human's whistle, a police siren, dog barking, and the sounds of a piano.

Northern Mockingbird
Northern Mockingbird on the top of juniper in northeast Oklahoma 

Northern Mockingbirds are about 10 inches in length and weigh only 2 ounces. It has a slender build with long legs and is primarily gray. They have a white chest and belly. It has distinctive white stripes on its wings. The outer edge of their long tail is white. Males and females look almost identical.

Northern Mockingbird singing
Male Northern Mockingbird doing his impression of the song of a Blue Bunting

The Northern Mockingbird can be found throughout all the lower 48 states and is sometimes called the American Nightingale, which I think is a more accurate name for this remarkable bird.

The Northern Mockingbird's diet is made up of insects, berries, and seeds.

Northern mockingbirds can typically live up to 8 years. Some have lived more than twice than long.

Northern Mocingbird up-close
This Mockingbird was sitting on a pine tree along the ScenicTalimena Highway in the mountains of southeast Oklahoma 

Mockingbirds are usually found alone or in a pair. They typically inhabit open country with thickets and farmland. I usually see a couple of Northern Mockingbirds while on my morning walk, running across an open meadow as they hunt for insects. If I get too close they will fly up to the top of a nearby tree and then survey the ground below for another spot to forage from.

Baby Mockingbird singing
This is a baby Northern Mockingbird that performed the songs of at least a dozen different birds as I stood close by for at least forty minutes

Male Mockingbirds are the singers in the Spring during mating season, and often serenade from their large repertoire for more than eight hours. On a moonlit night they often sing their songs until almost dawn. Female Mockingbirds do not join the mockingbird choir until the Fall. Mockingbirds learn new songs each year. The older the mockingbird, the more birds and sounds they can imitate.

Besides all the birds it mimics, the Northern Mockingbird also has its own unique song.



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Sel      5:29 PM Wed 12/23/2015

Greetings from Missouri! Thank you so much for the mockingbird! We have a mareolvus fella who returns every year to entertain us with grand opera from the top of the tree across the road. I downloaded most of your wonderful patterns a month or so ago but really wanted a mockingbird. I even considered trying to adapt some of the others but no need! Here he is! I'm so excited This is going to be such a fun winter project!Love your site! Thanks for your generous sharing of your visual and verbal artistic creativity.

Sarah      11:11 PM Sun 4/20/2014

We enjoy sleeping on our screened in porch in the springtime. Tonight is the first for this year. What a treat to 'listen to the mockingbird' singing out the glory of the land. I do not remember this in past evenings. What a joy. Thanks for he information about the American Nightingale.


Galina      8:46 PM Thu 3/6/2014

Every late evening in a summer we are waiting for mockingbird songs. We have a few birds around and it looks like American idol competition. So lovely. Reminded us the songs of nightingale

Nic      9:37 PM Thu 7/11/2013

Have a mating pair that have returned for 3 years. They are very protective of their nest and if my cats get anywhere near their territory they dive and nail them. :o) My cats have never killed on of their young and I can see why. People on here talk about the kites being territorial, but the mockingbirds seem to be good at it as well. Also love listening to the male in spring, he really turns up his book of songs for the lady!

Marcela      4:18 AM Fri 12/21/2012

We had three identical to yours. The Mom made a nest in our plant, in the drviawey, and layed three eggs this time (it's the second time that she uses our plant as her maternity ward). I was with Hannah and Ryder and they were fascinated with the three little birds trying to fly. They crash landed a few times and the kids were very upset about that, but after a few falls, they got stronger and Mom and Dad came in to assist. We left then and when we returned, they were gone. Wish you could have been there with your camera!

3 of Lins'      9:51 PM Thu 7/26/2012

Hey I have one in our backyard and I am pretty amazed to see it but I have a very simple question.Um........well can u take pics of when the bird is flying?Well anyway it's my sister's turn to write. -Kerry

Hi well we have a birdnest in our backyard and we have 1 baby bird and 1 egg.But then we had a bird egg missing.We like the bird in our backyard.-Kathy

Sup!For at least 5 or 4 days ago one of the eggs hatched.The other egg wouldn't hatch.We didn't know the nest was there until we looked.Thanks to your pictures we figured out what kind of bird it is-Kelsey

John      9:37 PM Tue 6/5/2012

I just lost a nights sleep because one of these wouldn't shut up. I hope he finds a mate soon - I'm bushed!

Kirsten      2:16 AM Tue 6/5/2012

I have a Northern Mockingbird who holds territory in my backyard. I love to sit out at night and listen to him. He has a repertoire of about 30 songs, a couple of which are very distinctly mocking car alarms and frog calls. He's amazing!

luish73      10:01 AM Fri 4/6/2012

The book "To Kill a Mockingbird" was translated to Spanish as "Matar a un Ruisenor" which literally translates To Kill a Nightingale

Jim      7:54 PM Sun 5/15/2011

Thanks for the great pic's,I'm a carver and also paint true to life in size and color and all this helps JT

Uplifting Visions
a guide to happiness, good health, and success
Charly Mann in a Hawaiian shirt
by Charly Mann

From the age of seven I have been enchanted with the idea of living happily ever after, and have made it a life quest to find that answer. I have spoken to hundreds of people – usually older and wiser than me, and read countless books and articles on the subject. In my website Uplifting Visions I share what I consider the best insights I have learned about achieving happiness in life.

Oklahoma Birds Listed by Color

House Finch - male (carpodacus mexicanus)
Purple Finch - male (carpodacus purpureus)
Northern Cardinal - male (cardinalis cardinalis)
Painted Bunting - male (passerina ciris)
Summer Tanager - male (piranga rubra)

Baltimore Oriole - male (icterus galbula)
Orchard Oriole - male (icterus spurius)

Yellow Warbler (dendroica petechia )
Baltimore Oriole - female (icterus galbula)
Orchard Oriole - female (icterus spurius)
Summer Tanager - female (piranga rubra)
Yellow Goldfinch - male (carduelis tristis)
Western Kingbird (tyrannus verticalis)
Eastern Meadowlark (sturnella magna)

Malard - male (anas platyrhynchos)
Dark-eyed Junco - female (junco hyemalis)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (archilochus colubris)
Painted Bunting - female (passerina ciris)
Green Heron (butorides virescens)

Barn Swallow (hirundo rustica)
Belted Kingfisher (ceryle alcyon)
Blue Jay (cyanocitta cristata)
Blue Grosbeak - male (guiraca caerulea)
Eastern Bluebird (sailia sialis)
Indigo Bunting - male (passerina cyanea)
Purple Martin - male (progne subis)

Great Blue Heron (ardea herodias)
Carolina Chickadee (poecile carolinensis)
Eastern Screech-Owl (otus asio)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (sitta canadensis)
Grey Catbird (dumetella carolinensis)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (regulus calendula)
Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher (tyrannus forficatus)
White-breasted Nuthatch (sitta carolinensis)
Tufted Titmouse (baelophus bicolor)
American Robin (turdus migratorius)
Northern Mockingbird (mimus polyglottos)
Mississippi Kite (ictinia mississippiensis)
Dickcissel (spiza americana)

American Crow (corvus brachyrhynchos)
Brown-headed Cowbird - male (molothrus ater)
European Starling (sturnus vulgaris)
Common Grackle (quiscalus quiscula)
Red-winged Blackbird - male (agelaius phoeniceus)
Spotted Towhee (pipilo maculatus)
Turkey Vulture (cathartes aura)

Black & White
American Bald Eagle (haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Black-billed Magpie (pica hudsonia)
Downey Woodpecker (picoides pubescens)
Red-Bellied Woodpecker (melanerpes carolinus)
Purple Martin - female (progne subis)
Eastern Kingbird (tyrannus tyrannus)
Dark-eyed Junco - male (junco hyemalis)
Loggerhead Shrike (lanius ludovicianus)

American Kestrel (falco sparverius)
Blue Grosbeak - female (guiraca caerulea)
Brown-headed Cowbird - female (molothrus ater)
Brown Thrasher (toxostoma rufum)
Common Nighthawk (chordeiles minor)
Carolina Wren (thryothorus ludovicianus)
Cedar Waxwing (bombycilla cedrorum)
Greater Roadrunner (geococcyx californianus)
Killdeer (charadrius vociferus)
Northern Bobwhite (colinus virginianus)
Red-tailed Hawk (buteo jamaicensis)
Cliff Swallow (petrochelidon pyrrhonota)
Horned Lark (eremophila alpestris)
House Finch - female (carpodacus mexicanus)
Northern Flicker (colaptes auratus)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (coccyzus americanus)
Mourning Dove (zenaida macroura)
Malard - female (anas platyrhynchos)
Purple Finch - female (carpodacus purpureus)
House Sparrow (passer domesticus)
Indigo Bunting - female (passerina cyanea)
Red-winged Blackbird - female (agelaius phoeniceus)
Spotted Sandpiper (actitis macularia)
Upland Sandpiper (bartramia longicauda)
Northern Cardinal - female (cardinalis cardinalis)
Eastern Screech-Owl (otus asio)
Yellow Goldfinch - female (carduelis tristis)
Canada Goose (branta canadensis)

Wild Birds of Northeast OK

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