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Northern mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
Northern mockingbird
Mimus polyglottos
Scientific classificationEdit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Superfamily: Muscicapoidea
Family: Mimidae


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,[1] often loudly and in rapid succession and for being extremely territorial when raising hatchlings.

The only mockingbird commonly found in North America is the northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos). The Greek word πολύγλωττος : polyglottos means 'multiple languages'. Mockingbirds are known for singing late at night, even past midnight.[2]

They are opportunistic omnivores, feeding on insects, fruits, seeds, and occasional greens.[3]

audio recording of mockingbird, note the variety of vocalizations

The northern mockingbird is the state bird of five states in the United States, a trend that was started in 1920, when the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs proposed the idea. In January 1927, Governor Dan Moody approved this, and Texas became the first state ever to choose a state bird. Since then, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee have also adopted the Northern Mockingbird as their official state bird.[4]


There ad, 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.[5][6]

Fledgling stage of the northern mockingbird

Species in taxonomic order[edit]


Formerly Nesomimus (endemic to the Galapagos):


Charles Darwin[edit]

The Chilean mockingbird, Mimus thenca

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.[7]


  1. ^ "What is a Mockingbird? - 10,000 Birds". April 24, 2007.
  2. ^ "Northern Mockingbird Sounds, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology". www.allaboutbirds.org.
  3. ^ Featherstone, Nicky (2022-10-18). "What Do Mockingbirds Eat?". Forest Wildlife. Retrieved 2024-02-09.
  4. ^ Goulet, Brianna (1999-11-30). "What Is Texas State Bird? Interesting Facts & ID". Birdzilla - Enjoyin' Birds. Retrieved 2024-02-09.
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ The Natural History Museum (2009-10-07), Darwin's mockingbirds knock finches off perch | Natural History Museum, retrieved 2018-07-17

External links[edit]