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The state bird of Texas is the northern mockingbird, well known for its multitude of songs.
Graphic from Metro Creative

Exploring Nature: Northern Mockingbird

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Let us consider the northern mockingbird. Its Latin name is “mimus polyglottos,” which translates to “the many- tongued mimic.”

This is very appropriate since this bird is indeed a storied singer and has a vocal repertoire of hundreds of song fragments. It usually repeats each song two or three times and unpaired male birds will sing at night to attract a mate. The northern mockingbird is the state bird of Texas — and also Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida and Arkansas.

Thomas Jefferson called the mockingbird “a superior being in the form of a bird.” He also kept many as pets, including during his presidency.

About 10-inches long, the mockingbird thrives in southern Canada, throughout the United States and into Mexico. Its favored habitats include thickets, fields and open yards.

John Burroughs called this bird “the lark and the nightingale in one” and it is reported native Americans, by way of admiration, called the bird “concontatolly,” or 400 tongues.

One famous captive bird was heard to reproduce 39 bird songs, 50 bird calls and the sounds of a frog and a cricket.

Another mockingbird threw a high school football game into confusion by making the sound of the referee’s whistle.

On average, each male bird knows about 150 different sounds. He mixes these up to increase the variety. However, even this master of mimicry is defeated in making trills — these are simply too complex to copy.

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666