The amazing vocal repertoire of birds reaches its pinnacle in the Northern Mockingbird, which has been known to sing over 400 different song types. Northern Mockingbirds can imitate other sounds so perfectly that computerized auditory analysis is often unable to detect differences between the original source and the mockingbird. During winter, mockingbirds establish and defend territories in berry-rich areas. To flush insects and to scare off predators, mockingbirds frequently raise their wings and tails. The scientific name polyglottos is Greek for 'many tongues,' in reference to the bird's varied vocal repertoire.
I.D.: Sexes similar. Adult: gray upperparts; dark wings and tail; 2 white wing bars; white outer tail feathers; light gray underparts; long black tail. In flight: large white patch at the base of the black primaries. Juvenile: paler overall; spotted breast.
Size: L 10 in. (25 cm).
Range: rare migrant in the southern U.S. Rockies; rare to uncommon elsewhere in the Rockies.
Habitat: dense tangles, shrublands, thickets, agricultural areas and riparian forests up to the lower montane.
Nesting: typically across the southern U.S.; often in a small shrub or small tree; cup nest is built with twigs, grass, fur and leaves; female incubates 3-5 eggs for 12-13 days.
Feeding: gleans vegetation and forages on the ground for beetles, ants, wasps and grasshoppers; also eats berries; visits feeders for suet and raisins.
Voice: song is a variable musical medley, with the phrases often repeated 3 times or more; call is a harsh chair; habitually imitates other songs and noises.
Similar Species: Northern Shrike and Loggerhead Shrike: hooked bill; adults have a black mask; juveniles are stockier, and less vocal. Townsend's Solitaire: prominent eye ring; lacks the white in the wings.