Mockingbirds are a group of New World passerine birds from the family Mimidae. They are best known for the habit of some species mimicking the songs of other birds and the sounds of insects and amphibians, often loudly and in rapid succession. There are about 17 species in two genera, although three species of mockingbird from the Galapagos Islands were formerly separated into a third genus, Nesomimus. The mockingbirds do not appear to form a monophyletic lineage, as Mimus and Melanotis are not each other's closest relatives; instead, Melanotis appears to be more closely related to the catbirds, while the closest living relatives of Mimus appear to be thrashers, such as the sage thrasher.
The only mockingbird commonly found in North America is the northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos). The Greek word polyglottos means 'multiple languages'. Mockingbirds are known for singing late at night, even past midnight.
Species in taxonomic order
- Brown-backed mockingbird, Mimus dorsalis
- Bahama mockingbird, Mimus gundlachii
- Long-tailed mockingbird, Mimus longicaudatus
- Patagonian mockingbird, Mimus patagonicus
- Chilean mockingbird, Mimus thenca
- White-banded mockingbird, Mimus triurus
- Northern mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
- Socorro mockingbird, Mimus graysoni
- Tropical mockingbird, Mimus gilvus
- Chalk-browed mockingbird, Mimus saturninus
Formerly Nesomimus (endemic to the Galapagos):
- Hood mockingbird, Mimus macdonaldi
- Galápagos mockingbird, Mimus parvulus
- Floreana mockingbird or Charles mockingbird, Mimus trifasciatus
- San Cristóbal mockingbird, Mimus melanotis
When the survey voyage of HMS Beagle visited the Galápagos Islands in September to October 1835, the naturalist Charles Darwin noticed that the mockingbirds Mimus thenca differed from island to island, and were closely allied in appearance to mockingbirds on the South American mainland. Nearly a year later when writing up his notes on the return voyage he speculated that this, together with what he had been told about Galápagos tortoises, could undermine the doctrine of stability of species. This was his first recorded expression of his doubts about species being immutable, which led to his being convinced about the transmutation of species and hence evolution.
- Hunt, Jeffrey S.; Bermingham, Eldredge; & Ricklefs, Robert E. (2001): "Molecular systematics and biogeography of Antillean thrashers, tremblers, and mockingbirds (Aves: Mimidae)." Auk 118(1): 35–55. DOI:10.1642/0004-8038(2001)118[0035:MSABOA]2.0.CO;2
- Barber, Brian R.; Martínez-Gómez, Juan E. & Peterson, A. Townsend (2004) "Systematic position of the Socorro mockingbird Mimodes graysoni." J. Avian Biol. 35: 195–198. doi:10.1111/j.0908-8857.2004.03233.x
- "Northern Mockingbird Sounds, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology".
- The Natural History Museum (2009-10-07), Darwin's mockingbirds knock finches off perch | Natural History Museum, retrieved 2018-07-17
- Mockingbird videos, photographs and sound recordings Archived 2016-04-12 at the Wayback Machine on the Internet Bird Collection