Mockingbirds: Why We Hear from Them so Much

Mockingbirds:  Why We Hear from Them so Much


Mockingbirds are either loved or hated by those who listen to their perpetual calls.  They are some of the most unique birds in North America, and they are also some of the most prevalent.  Their territory extends from the southern part of the country to the Great Lakes, and one species dominates them all.  Let's take a closer look at the mockingbird, and you can become more familiar with a likely-neighbor that you will encounter on your next camping or hiking trip.


Mockingbirds are Not Shy

Most of us have probably heard a gaggle of mockingbirds at one time or another as they repetitively-sing and mimic a wide-range of sounds.  Many birds sing late into the night or very early in the morning, and continue to chirp throughout the day.  Aside from being quite vocal, which is how males attract females during the mating season, mockingbirds also like to make their presence known by their physical behavior as well. 


They often scamper on the ground and flex their wings to reveal white stripes on either side as they feed on insects.  They are very acrobatic in flight and seem to dance across the sky.  These maneuvers are used to attract mates, defend nests, ward off predators or simply to have some fun.  Mockingbirds will also often jump up and down atop their perch as they sing and flap their wings as a way to make their presence known as well.


Mockingbirds are Territorial

Mockingbirds aggressively-defend their territory, and they will not shy away from chasing and pecking at large animals as well as humans when they get too close to their nests.  This can be problematic because mockingbirds prefer to nest in tall bushes, shrubs and lower tree branches.  This gives them a good vantage point to scout for insects on the ground, but it also places them in close proximity to a host of threats that other birds avoid by nesting high above the ground. 



Mockingbirds breed a few times per year and chicks will usually leave the nest a couple of weeks after hatching.  However, they do not become adept at flying for another week or so.  This makes them particularly vulnerable to predators as they spend much of their time hopping on the ground or perched within reach of opportunistic hunters. 


If you see mockingbirds while camping or hiking, enjoy watching their playful behavior and listening to their singing.  However, try to be on the lookout for nests in order to avoid setting up camp in a spot that may be a little too close for their comfort.  Otherwise, you may end up being perpetually harassed and annoyed until you decide to move on.