This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the northern mockingbird.
The northern mockingbird is most famous for its ability to mimic the sounds of other birds. A single mockingbird can learn up to 200 different bird songs in its life and may mimic up to a dozen different birds’ songs, as well as some of its own songs, in a single singing session. A mockingbird does not sing the entire song of another bird, but just phrases of the song, often repeating the phrase three times. Both sexes sing and can be heard any time of day, and even sometimes at night, especially when the moon is bright.
Mockingbirds were originally a southern bird, where they are still very common, but have expanded their range northward and westward. Here, you may see or hear a mockingbird mostly in open areas. Look for a robin-sized bird with a gray back and whitish undersides. There are two white wing bars as well as white patches on the wings which can be seen when in flight. You may also see these patches if the birds are foraging for food, when they will violently jerk one or both wings onto their backs. This may serve to flush out insects.
Mockingbirds will aggressively defend their nests, often attacking cats and dogs as well as other birds.
For information on local bird-watching events, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudubon/.