As I walked over the bridge to the DuPont Environmental Education Center (DEEC) recently, I saw a gray bird with a long tail and flashes of white on its wings. These fieldmarks are the hallmark of our resident Northern Mockingbirds.
Mockingbirds, often called “Mockers,” can mimic other bird songs and man-made devices like cell phones. They are one of three birds in our area that are mimics, in the bird family known as Mimidae. The other mimics are Brown Thrasher and Gray Catbird.
These birds have a series of phrases that are repeated 2-6 times before going on to another song. They often have over 150 distinguishing songs and can actually learn new ones throughout their lifetime. Both male and females sing, but it’s the single male that is usually found continually singing, even into the nighttime. Mockingbirds also make a scratchy “chat” call to warn off intruders or when they are disturbed.
Mockingbirds are very territorial and have been known to chase animals and even people from their area, especially if they have a nest nearby. They eat a wide variety of fruit and insects. The area under the DEEC bridge is perfect Mockingbird habitat with open areas loaded with insects and native bushes loaded with fruit.
Because the female lays 2-6 eggs and can have offspring 2-3 times during the summer, the five Mockingbirds in our area are probably from the same family.
As you walk over the bridge at DEEC, take a look and see if you can observe one of our resident Mockers.