do mocking birds mate for life

Description What Do Mockingbirds Look Like

Mockingbirds measure about 9 to 11 inches in length. Slender with a long tail. Gray above and whitish below. Although they look alike, males and females can occasionally differ in size.

a small bird with a longer, somewhat curved bill

The outer feathers of the tail are white. When in flight, one can see a big white patch beneath each wing and two wing bars on top of each wing.

Typically, males start establishing a nesting territory in February.

While some pairs may stay together throughout the winter and share territory, unmated females spend more time on their wintering territory.

Though it can extend a month on either side, April through July is the main time for nesting and egg-laying.

A male will challenge a female with sharp “chacks” as soon as she steps into his territory if they are not mated.

The two birds square off and watch each other. The male follows the female, and if she goes, he might make gentle calls and spread his wings to try to get her to come back.

Eventually, the female will choose a partner or get back together with a male from the previous season.

The songs become shorter and more somber once a pair bond is formed.

The two mockingbirds sit together and communicate by calling out “hew-hew” to one another.

Northern Mockingbirds are strongly monogamous. A male will sing loudly until the end of the season if he is unsuccessful in finding a mate.

If no mate is found, he will abandon his territory. Mockingbirds do not mate for life.

Mockingbirds typically nest in shrubs, trees, or dense vegetation.

They have a reputation for constructing their nests in a range of places, such as parks, gardens, wooded areas, and suburban neighborhoods.

These birds are versatile and can build their nests in both urban and rural areas.

In order to help hide their nests from predators, these birds frequently select areas with plenty of cover and protection for their nests, such as thorny bushes or dense foliage.

The male and female Northern Mockingbirds work together to construct the nest.

While this is less common in other birds, the male does the majority of the work.

The nest is built within 2 or 3 days. During the yearly nesting season, five or six nests may be constructed. Most will not have eggs.

The nest is a thick mass of leaves, grasses, moss, hair, or synthetic fibers atop a hefty framework made of twigs.

The interior cup is lined with string, wool, or tiny, soft rootlets. Located about 3 to 10 feet above the ground.

As seen below, the female deposits three to five pale blue or green eggs that are speckled with a russet or cinnamon hue.

When the final, second egg is laid, she will start her continuous incubation. About 11 to 13 days will pass during incubation (the term “gestation period” does not apply to birds).

For roughly twelve days, the hatchlings are fed by both parents. It takes roughly 23 to 25 days for the entire incubation and fledging process.

Mockingbird Nesting Stats

Mockingbird Nesting Stats
Eggs 3 – 5
Incubation 11 – 13 days
Nestling Phase 12 days
Broods 2 – 3

Nests are rarely reused. Sometimes, old nests are topped by new ones. Not long after the first brood fledges, the second nest is started.

Although they hardly ever abandon their young, mockingbirds will abandon eggs during incubation if the nest is disturbed.

Mockingbirds fiercely protect their nesting area from humans, dogs, and other predators.

Not uncommon to nest multiple times during the season. Typically, the season for nesting ends in August.

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Breeding grounds for northern mockingbirds include the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, the Greater Antilles, northern Mexico, and southeastern Canada. Although the populations of these birds that reside in the northern part of their range migrate further south during the winter, these birds are generally year-round residents of their range. Mockingbirds in the north prefer open spaces with little vegetation and the edges of forests. Parks and gardens, along with other suburban and urban areas, are common residential areas in the eastern regions. Their preferred habitats in western regions are chaparral and desert scrub. When foraging for food, Northern mockingbirds prefer short grass.

During the day, northern mockingbirds are active and are typically observed in pairs or alone. To get food, they fly down from a perch and forage on the ground or in vegetation. Mockingbirds usually spread their wings in an odd two-step motion to show off the white patches while they are foraging. When they’re on the ground, they can run, walk, or even hop. When it comes to prime feeding areas, northern mockingbirds are particularly territorial and aggressive birds. They repel intruders with a variety of threat postures, and if humans approach too closely to their nesting areas, they may even gather and launch themselves at them. The primary means of communication for northern mockingbirds are songs and different calls. Both sexes sing, though the females are typically quieter and less expressive. Males begin singing in late January or early February, and they keep singing all summer long as they mark territory and into the fall. In the summer and fall, females sing less frequently and only when the male leaves the territory. The four primary calls made by northern mockingbirds are the begging call, chat or chatburst, hew call, and nest relief call. Both sexes primarily use the hew call in response to possible nest predators, conspecific chasing, and different mate interactions. Chats and chatbursts differ in that chats are used more frequently because they are year-round, whereas chatbursts take place in the fall. Another distinction is that in the fall, chatbursts seem to be used for territorial defense and are emitted when mockingbirds feel threatened. Only the males use the begging calls and nest relief. Group name.

Northern mockingbirds are omnivores. They eat insects, earthworms, berries, fruits, seeds, and occasionally lizards. They can take in water from puddles, the banks of rivers and lakes, or from raindrops that collect on vegetation. Mockingbird adults have been known to consume sap from freshly pruned tree cuts.


For many years, northern mockingbirds live in monogamous pairs, but there have also been reports of polygyny—one male with multiple females—in certain cases. These birds lay eggs in the spring and early summer, yielding two to four broods annually. To establish their territories, the males arrive prior to the start of the season. They entice women to visit their sites with a series of courtship displays. The males dart about the area, displaying to the females their territory or pursuing them. The males also take to the air to demonstrate their wings. As they put on all of these displays, they call and sing. Building the nest involves both the male and the female. While the female perches on the shrub or tree where the nest is being built to keep an eye out for predators, the male completes the majority of the work. Twigs make up the nest’s exterior, while grasses, dead leaves, moss, or man-made fibers line its interior. The female lays three to five pale blue or greenish eggs that are dotted with dots, and she spends almost two weeks incubating them. The chicks are altricial, which means that they need their parents’ nourishment for a specific amount of time after hatching because they are comparatively defenseless and immobile at birth. The chicks become independent after 10 to 15 days of life, and after a year, they are ready to reproduce.

Although they are not listed as threatened or endangered, northern mockingbirds are preyed upon, especially in urban areas. Adult birds can become prey for predators like sharp-shinned hawks, great horned owls, and screech owls. Fledglings are taken by domestic cats, red-tailed hawks, and crows. Blue jays, American and fish crows, swallow-tailed kites, red-tailed hawks, snakes, squirrels, and cats all eat the eggs and nestlings. Another concern is severe weather. Winter storms limit the expansion of mockingbirds in their range. The storms have contributed to the population decline in Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and probably Quebec. Dry seasons also affect the mockingbird populations in Arizona.

The What Bird resource estimates that there are approximately 45,000,000 Northern Mockingbirds in the world. The All About Birds resource states that there are 32 million breeding birds in the species overall. The IUCN Red List currently lists Northern Mockingbirds as Least Concern (LC) overall, and their population is stable.

Northern mockingbirds play an important role in their ecosystem. These birds control the populations of various insects that they feed on and aid in the dispersal of seeds throughout their habitat.


Do mockingbirds recognize humans?

These results demonstrate a remarkable ability of a passerine bird to distinguish one human from thousands of others. Also, mockingbirds learned to identify individual humans extraordinarily quickly: after only 2 30-s exposures of the human at the nest.

Are mocking birds monogamous?

Northern mockingbirds are usually monogamous. However, occasionally one male will mate with more than two females. Male and female breeding pairs usually stay together for a whole breeding season, and sometimes for many years. Northern mockingbirds breed in spring and early summer.

What is the lifespan of a mockingbird?

In the wild, mockingbirds live eight years on average. Individuals in human care live up to 20 years.

Do mockingbirds use the same nest twice?

The male probably chooses the nest site and begins building several nests before the female chooses one to finish and lay eggs in. Females may start laying in a second nest while the male is still caring for fledglings from the previous one. Northern Mockingbirds rarely ever reuse their nests.