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Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)

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Northern Mockingbird

The Northern Mockingbird has a broad repertoire. It can mimic everything from other birds to inanimate objects. And it does so at all hours of the day and night. As poet Randall Jarrell put it: On the willow's highest branch, monopolizing Day and night, cheeping, squeaking, soaring, The... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  reflection, vocalization

What's Your State Bird?

All states have an official bird, usually one that's associated with its particular region. Many state birds are quite common, although Hawaii's chosen bird, the Nene, a type of goose, is endangered. The bird chosen by the most states — seven — is the Northern Cardinal, followed by the Western... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

State Birds

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have official birds. To become a state bird, it helped to be familiar, colorful, and have a punchy song. The Northern Cardinal perches as state bird in seven eastern states, the Western Meadowlark in six western states. Bluebirds - like this Western... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

The Mockingbird - A Virtuoso of Variety

This aptly named Northern Mockingbird might imitate, in succession, birds as different as a bobwhite quail, a chat, a sandpiper — even a cardinal — then cap it off with the meow of a cat and a few phrases of car alarm. In spring, a male mockingbird sings all day, with hundreds of variations ... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  sound, species account, vocalization

Why Some Birds Sing in the Winter

By late January, some resident birds, such as the Northern Mockingbird, are beginning their spring singing. When you step outside on a particularly sunny day this winter, a Fox Sparrow like the one pictured here may be warming up for the coming spring. And as far north as British Columbia,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Decibels Per Gram

Some of the tiniest birds in the world have impressively loud voices. The Ruby-crowned Kinglet — that bright-headed sprite of the treetops — would be downright deafening if it were just a little bigger. Hummingbirds were originally named for the mechanical buzzing produced by their inconceivably... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Thomas Jefferson's Mockingbirds

Mockingbirds, masters of mimicry, are prone to ramble on and on. Sometimes they even sing at night. Thomas Jefferson kept Northern Mockingbirds in his office and sleeping quarters, while president in the early 1800s. One of Jefferson’s pet mockingbirds — named Dick— would perch on his shoulder... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, vocalization
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