Overview

Brief Summary

The Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) is a gray, long-tailed bird with white outer tail feathers and white wing patches that flash conspicuously in flight. This widely distributed North American species breeds from California, Colorado, Iowa, and Ontario south to the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and southern Mexico. They have also been introduced and established in the Hawaiian Islands (main islands from Kauai eastward) and in Bermuda. Northern Mockingbirds are found in a variety of open and semi-open situations, especially in scrub, thickets, and gardens and in towns and cities and around cultivated areas.



Northern Mockingbirds sing a mix of original and imitative phrases, each repeated several times. They may imitate the songs of a wide variety of other birds' songs and calls, sometimes in rapid succession, as well as other sounds. They often sing at night as well as during the day. Both sexes sing in fall as they claim feeding territories. The often heard call is a loud, sharp check.

The diet of the Northern Mockingbird consists mostly of insects and berries. The annual diet is around half insects and other arthropods and half berries and other fruits, but the diet is heavy on insects in late spring and summer and in fruits in fall and winter.

Nesting begins early in the year, by late winter in the southern United States. The male sings to defend his territory and attract a mate, often leaping a meter in the air and flapping his wings while singing. Early courtship involves the male and female chasing each other around the male's territory. The nest is placed in a dense tree or shrub, typically one to three meters above the ground, but sometimes lower or higher (rarely up to 18 m). The nest has a bulky foundation of twigs supporting an open cup of weeds, grass, and leaves lined with fine material such as rootlets, moss, animal hair, and plant down. The male builds most of the foundation and the female adds most of the lining. Typical clutch size is 3 to 4 eggs (sometimes as few as 2 or as many as 6). Egg color ranges from greenish to bluish gray, with blotches of brown usually concentrated at the larger end. Eggs are incubated (by the female alone) for 12 to 13 days. Both parents feed the nestlings, which leave the nest around 12 days after hatching but are not able to fly well for another week or so. Northern Mockingbirds may produce two to three clutches per year.



Northern Mockingbirds were often captured for sale as pets from the late 1700s to the early 1900s and possibly as a result became scarce along much of the northern edge of their range. With the end of the cagebird trade, the Northern Mockingbird became more common in many areas. In recent decades, this species has expanded its range northward, especially in the northeast, possibly as a consequence of the widespread planting of multiflora rose (an excellent source of both food and nesting sites) and a changing climate.

(Kaufman 1996; AOU 1998; Dunn and Alderfer 2011)

  • American Ornithologists' Union. 1998. Check-list of North American Birds, 7th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
  • Dunn, J.L. and J. Alderfer. 2011. National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America. National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C.
  • Kaufman, K. 1996. Lives of North American Birds. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
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Distribution

Northern mockingbirds are distributed throughout North America, including Canada and Mexico. In fact, sightings have been reported as far off the coast as Hawaii (where they were introduced). However, northern mockingbirds are most commonly found in the southern regions of the United States and are most often sighted in Texas and Southern Florida. They breed from northern California, eastern Nebraska, southern Ontario and Atlantic Canada southward to southern Mexico.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); oceanic islands (Introduced )

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Global Range: Resident regularly from northern California and eastern Oregon to South Dakota, northern Ohio, and southern New England (sporatically or locally north to southern Canada), south to southern Baja California, southern Mexico, Gulf Coast, southern Florida, and western West Indies (including Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands). First known successful nesting in British Columbia occurred in 1993 (MacKenzie et al. 1995, Canadian Field-Naturalist 109:260). Introduced and established in Hawaii, Bermuda.

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Geographic Range

Northern mockingbirds live throughout North America, including Canada and Mexico. They are most common in the southern United States, especially in Texas and Florida. They breed from northern California, eastern Nebraska, southern Ontario and Atlantic Canada to southern Mexico.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); oceanic islands (Introduced )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Northern mockingbirds are medium-sized birds with long legs and tails, and short, rounded wings. Males are larger than females, ranging from about 22 to 25.5 cm in length and averaging 51 g. Females range from 20.8 to 23.5 cm long and weigh an average of 47 g. Northern mockingbirds have gray-brown upperparts, with a large white patch on each wing and white outer retrices that are conspicuous in flight. Their black bills are long and somewhat decurved. Males and females are similar in appearance, with the exception of difference in size and slightly darker tail feathers on females. Juveniles are similar to adults, but have brown spots on their underparts.

Range mass: 47 to 51 g.

Range length: 20.8 to 25.5 cm.

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; sexes colored or patterned differently

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

  • Derrickson, K., R. Breitwisch. 1992. Northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos). Pp. 1-24 in A Poole, P Stettenheim, F Gill, eds. The Birds of North America, Vol. 7. Philadelphia, PA: The Academy of Natural Sciences and Washington DC: The American Ornithologists Union.
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Physical Description

Northern mockingbirds are medium-sized birds. They have long tails, and short, rounded wings. Males are larger than females. Males are 22 to 25.5 cm long and weigh about 51 g. Females are 20.8 to 23.5 cm long and weigh about 47 g. Northern mockingbirds are gray-brown on top and light gray underneath. They have a large white patch on each wing and white outer tail feathers that are easy to spot when they fly. Their bills are black and curved a little bit downward. Young northern mockingbirds look similar to adults, but they have brown spots on their underparts.

Range mass: 47 to 51 g.

Range length: 20.8 to 25.5 cm.

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; sexes colored or patterned differently

  • Derrickson, K., R. Breitwisch. 1992. Northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos). Pp. 1-24 in A Poole, P Stettenheim, F Gill, eds. The Birds of North America, Vol. 7. Philadelphia, PA: The Academy of Natural Sciences and Washington DC: The American Ornithologists Union.
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Size

Length: 25 cm

Weight: 49 grams

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Ecology

Habitat

Northern mockingbirds prefer open areas and forest edges. They are commonly found in residential areas, farmlands, roadsides, city parks, open grassy areas with thickets and brushy deserts. They require a tree or higher perch from which they can defend their territories. Northern mockingbirds occupy similar habitat year-round.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; savanna or grassland ; scrub forest

Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban ; agricultural

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Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Comments: Various open and partly open situations from areas of scattered brush or trees to forest edge and semi-desert (absent in forest interior), especially in scrub, thickets, gardens, towns, and around cultivated areas (AOU 1983). Nests in dense shrubbery, tree branches, vines, cholla, prickly pear, sagebrush, usually 1-3 m above ground, often near houses (Harrison 1979).

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Northern mockingbirds like open habitats and forest edges. They are often seen in residential areas, farmlands, along roads, in city parks, open grassy areas with thickets and brushy deserts. They like grassy areas, but need a tree or other high structure to perch on. Northern mockingbirds occupy similar habitat all year.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; savanna or grassland ; scrub forest

Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban ; agricultural

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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Populations at northern edge of breeding range partially migratory southward for winter.

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Trophic Strategy

Northern mockingbirds are omnivores. Their primary food sources are insects, berries and seeds. Insects they eat include beetles (order Coleoptera), ants (order Hymenoptera), grasshoppers (order Orthoptera) and spiders (order Araneae). Plants that are included in their diets are: holly, mulberries, raspberries, dogwood, brambles, grapes and figs. They also eat earthworms, and occasionally small crustaceans and small lizards.

Northern mockingbirds usually forage on the ground or while perched in a tree or shrub. They obtain water by drinking from puddles, river and lake edges and dew and rain droplets that collect on vegetation.

Animal Foods: reptiles; insects; terrestrial worms; aquatic crustaceans

Plant Foods: seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit

Primary Diet: omnivore

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Comments: Diet of adults and nestlings mainly insects and other invertebrates and small fruits (Terres 1980).

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Food Habits

Northern mockingbirds are omnivores. Their main foods are insects, berries and seeds. Insects they eat include beetles (order Coleoptera), ants (order Hymenoptera), grasshoppers (order Orthoptera) and spiders (order Araneae). They eat the fruits of holly, mulberries, raspberries, dogwoods, brambles, grapes and figs. They also eat earthworms, and sometimes small crustaceans and small Anolis.

Northern mockingbirds usually search for food on the ground or while perched in a tree or shrub. They drink water from puddles, the edges of rivers or lakes, or from wet plants.

Animal Foods: reptiles; insects; terrestrial worms; aquatic crustaceans

Plant Foods: seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit

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Associations

Northern mockingbirds play an important role as seed dispersers. They also impact populations of the insects they eat. Northern mockingbirds host several ectoparasites, including blowfly larvae (family Calliphoridae), fleas and mites. Finally, three cowbird species (genus Molothrus) brood parasitize northern mockingbirds. This means that these cowbird species lay eggs in the nests of northern mockingbirds that then raise the cowbird chicks.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds

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Adult northern mockingbirds are vulnerable to predation by sharp-shinned hawks, screech owls, scrub jays and great horned owls. Incubating females are also occasionally killed by snakes.

Northern mockingbird eggs and chicks are vulnerable to predation by blue jays, fish crows, American crows, snakes and squirrels.

When predators approach the nest, adults give alarm calls. Adults often also mob predators that enter a territory, sometimes striking them.

Known Predators:

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Ecosystem Roles

Northern mockingbirds play an important role as seed dispersers. After eating berries, northern mockingbirds release seeds in their feces. This helps the plant to spread its seeds. Northern mockingbirds also impact populations of the insects they eat.

Northern mockingbirds host several ectoparasites. These parasites include blowfly larvae (family Calliphoridae), fleas and mites. Finally, three Molothrus are brood parasites of northern mockingbirds. This means that the cowbirds lay eggs in the northern mockingbirds’ nests. Sometimes the northern mockingbirds will incubate the egg and raise the cowbird chicks along with their own chicks.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds

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Predation

Adult northern mockingbirds are killed by Accipiter striatus, Otus asio, Aphelocoma coerulescense and Bubo virginianus. Females that are incubating eggs are sometimes killed by snakes.

Cyanocitta cristata, Corvus ossifragus, Corvus brachyrhynchos, Serpentes and squirrels eat northern mockingbird eggs and chicks.

When predators come near to a nest, adults make alarm calls. Several adults may also mob predator that enter their territory. They swoop at the predator and sometimes even hit them.

Known Predators:

  • sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter_striatus)
  • eastern screech owls (Otus_asio)
  • scrub jays (Aphelocoma_coerulescense)
  • great horned owls (Bubo_virginianus)
  • blue jays (Cyanocitta_cristata)
  • fish crows (Corvus_ossifragus)
  • American crows (Corvus_brachyrhynchos)
  • squirrels (Sciruidae)
  • snakes (Serpentes)
  • American alligators (Alligator_mississipiensis)
  • birds of prey (Falconiformes)

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Known predators

Mimus polyglottos is prey of:
Lynx rufus
Canis latrans
Serpentes
Alligator mississippiensis
Falconiformes

Based on studies in:
USA: Arizona, Sonora Desert (Desert or dune)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • Myers, P., R. Espinosa, C. S. Parr, T. Jones, G. S. Hammond, and T. A. Dewey. 2006. The Animal Diversity Web (online). Accessed February 16, 2011 at http://animaldiversity.org. http://www.animaldiversity.org
  • P. G. Howes, The Giant Cactus Forest and Its World: A Brief Biology of the Giant Cactus Forest of Our American Southwest (Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, New York; Little, Brown, Boston; 1954), from pp. 222-239, from p. 227.
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Known prey organisms

Mimus polyglottos preys on:
seeds of other plants
mistletoe
Orthoptera
Lepidoptera
Gryllidae
cactus weevils
Moneilema
Papilionoidea
Crustacea
Insecta

Based on studies in:
USA: Arizona, Sonora Desert (Desert or dune)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • Myers, P., R. Espinosa, C. S. Parr, T. Jones, G. S. Hammond, and T. A. Dewey. 2006. The Animal Diversity Web (online). Accessed February 16, 2011 at http://animaldiversity.org. http://www.animaldiversity.org
  • P. G. Howes, The Giant Cactus Forest and Its World: A Brief Biology of the Giant Cactus Forest of Our American Southwest (Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, New York; Little, Brown, Boston; 1954), from pp. 222-239, from p. 227.
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Northern mockingbirds communicate primarily using song. They can perform at least 39 different songs as well as 50 other call notes. They also have the ability to mimic certain sounds such as dogs barking, pianos, sirens and squeaky gates. Song is also an essential part in mating. Males use their song to attract mates and to mark their territory. They sing often, both during the night and day.

Northern mockingbirds also use visual cues to communicate. For example, males perform a “flight display” to attract and court a mate (see Reproduction: Mating Systems). This display integrates auditory and visual methods of communication.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

Other Communication Modes: mimicry

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Communication and Perception

Northern mockingbirds communicate mostly using songs. They can sing at least 39 different songs and 50 other call notes. They can also imitate certain sounds such as dogs barking, pianos, sirens and squeaky gates. Songs are important in mating. Males sing to attract females and to defend their territory against other males. They sing often, at night and during the day.

Northern mockingbirds also use visual displays to communicate. For example, males perform a “flight display”. During this display, males sing and fly up and down to attract a female.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

Other Communication Modes: mimicry

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Cyclicity

Comments: May sing day and night in breeding season.

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Life Expectancy

Northern mockingbirds have been known to live up to 8 years in the wild. Captive northern mockingbirds have lived up to 20 years.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
8 (high) years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
20 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
178 months.

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Lifespan/Longevity

Northern mockingbirds have been known to live up to 8 years in the wild. Captive northern mockingbirds have lived up to 20 years.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
8 (high) years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
20 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
178 months.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 20 years (wild)
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Reproduction

Northern mockingbirds are generally monogamous. Polygyny and bigamy seem to occur only rarely in this species. Breeding pairs remain together for the length of a breeding season, occasionally for life.

Males establish a territory and attempt to attract a female using courtship displays. They may chase the female through the territory while calling, or run along shrub and tree branches, showing her potential nest sites. Males also perform a flight display, which shows off their white wing patches. In the flight display, males sing continuously while flying a few meters into the air and then parachuting slowly back down.

Mating System: monogamous

Northern mockingbirds breed in spring and early summer. Their nests are bulky and cup-like and are made of twigs, cotton, dry leaves, stems, paper, grass and other organic material. Nests are built in shrubs and trees anywhere from one to fifty feet off of the ground. After mating, the female lays two to six eggs (average 4 eggs), which are approximately 24 by 18 mm in size. The eggs are usually a blue to greenish color and may have several brown or reddish spots. Female mockingbirds are the sole incubators of the eggs. The eggs hatch after 11 to 14 days. Though the chicks are altricial at hatching, they leave the nest after 10 to 12 days. When the young fledge, the female usually begins to build a new nest, and the male is active in teaching the young to fly as well as continuing to feed them. The fledglings are independent in 10 to 15 days and reach sexual maturity in one year. Northern mockingbirds can raise 2 to 4 broods a year.

Breeding interval: Northern mockingbirds can have 2 to 4 broods a year.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs in the spring and early summer.

Range eggs per season: 2 to 6.

Range time to hatching: 11 to 14 days.

Range fledging age: 10 to 12 days.

Range time to independence: 10 to 15 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 1 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; oviparous

Average eggs per season: 4.

Females incubate the eggs, males do not. However, when the eggs hatch, the female and male are both active in feeding and protecting the altricial young. After the chicks fledge, the female begins to build a new nest for a second brood. During this time, the males teach the young to fly and continue to feed them.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Protecting: Male)

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Clutch size 3-6 (usually 4-5). Two to 3 broods per year. Incubation 11-17 days, by female. Young tended by both parents, leave nest at 10-24 days (usually < 2 weeks). May retain same mate through successive nesting attempts in single season and through successive years. Sometimes polygynous.

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Northern mockingbirds are usually monogamous. However, occasionally one male will mate with more than two females. Male and female breeding pairs usually stay together for a whole breeding season, and sometimes for many years.

Males choose a territory and then try to attract a female to mate there. There are three courtship displays that males use to attract female. The male may chase the female through the territory while singing, or her may run around on branches, showing the female where a nest could be built. Males also perform a “flight display”. In the “flight display”, males sing while flying a few meters into the air and then falling slowly back down. This display shows off their white wing patches to the female.

Mating System: monogamous

Northern mockingbirds breed in spring and early summer. Their nests are cup-shaped and are made of twigs, cotton, dry leaves, stems, paper, grass and other organic material. The nests are built in shrubs and trees up to 50 feet above the ground.

The female lays two to six eggs (average 4 eggs). The eggs are about 24 mm long and 18 mm wide. They are blue or greenish with brown or reddish spots. Female mockingbirds incubate the eggs, males do not. The eggs hatch after 11 to 14 days. The chicks are helpless when they hatch. However, they grow quickly and can leave the nest after 10 to 12 days. When the chicks leave the nest, the male continues to feed them and teaches them to fly. The female begins building a new nest for the next brood of eggs. The fledglings become independent from their parents when they are 10 to 15 days old. They may begin breeding when they are one year old. Northern mockingbirds can raise 2 to 4 broods each year.

Breeding interval: Northern mockingbirds can have 2 to 4 broods a year.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs in the spring and early summer.

Range eggs per season: 2 to 6.

Range time to hatching: 11 to 14 days.

Range fledging age: 10 to 12 days.

Range time to independence: 10 to 15 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 1 years.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization

Average eggs per season: 4.

Females incubate the eggs, males do not. When the eggs hatch, the female and male both feed and protect the helpless chicks. After the chicks leave the nest, the female begins to build a new nest for a second brood. During this time, the male teaches the chicks to fly and feeds them.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Protecting: Male)

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Mimus polyglottos

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 6 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

AACCGATGATTATTCTCAACCAACCACAAAGATATCGGCACTCTCTACCTAATCTTCGGCGCATGAGCCGGGATAGTAGGTACTGCCCTA---AGCCTCCTCATCCGAGCAGAACTAGGCCAACCTGGAGCCCTACTAGGAGAC---GACCAAGTCTACAATGTAGTCGTTACAGCCCATGCCTTCGTAATAATCTTCTTTATGGTTATACCAATCATGATCGGGGGATTTGGAAACTGACTAGTCCCCCTAATA---ATTGGAGCCCCAGACATGGCATTCCCCCGAATAAACAACATAAGCTTCTGACTACTCCCCCCATCCTTCCTCCTACTCCTAGCATCCTCCACAGTAGAATCAGGAGTAGGGACAGGCTGAACCGTATACCCGCCCCTAGCTGGCAACCTAGCCCACGCCGGAGCTTCAGTAGACCTG---GCCATTTTCTCCCTCCATCTAGCCGGTATCTCCTCAATTCTAGGAGCTATCAACTTCATCACAACAGCAATCAACATAAAACCACCCGCCCTCTCACAATACCAAACCCCCCTATTCGTTTGATCAGTACTAATCACTGCAGTACTACTCCTCCTATCCCTCCCTGTCCTTGCCGCA---GGCATTACCATGCTCCTCACCGACCGCAACCTCAACACCACCTTCTTCGACCCAGCAGGAGGAGGAGACCCAGTACTTTACCAACATCTCTTCTGGTTCTTTGGCCACCCAGAAGTCTACATCCTAATCCTTCCAGGATTTGGAATCATCTCCCACGTCGTGGCCTACTACTCAGGAAAAAAA---GAACCATTCGGCTACATAGGAATAGTATGAGCCATACTATCCATCGGGTTCCTGGGCTTTATCGTCTGAGCCCACCACATGTTTACGGTAGGAATGGACGTAGACACCCGAGCCTACTTCACATCTGCCACCATAATCATCGCCATCCCAACAGGAATCAAAGTGTTCAGCTGACTA---GCAACG
-- end --

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Mimus polyglottos

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 7
Specimens with Barcodes: 21
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Northern mockingbird populations are extensive and are not currently of conservation concern. There are an estimated 45,000,000 northern mockingbirds worldwide. This species is protected by the US Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Scientists are not worried about this species. Northern mockingbird populations are large. There are about 45,000,000 northern mockingbirds in the world. This species is protected by the US Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

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Population

Population Trend
Stable
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Northern mockingbirds are often thought of as a nuisance because of their nocturnal singing, which may keep people up at night. Gardeners and farmers may also dislike these birds which often feed on fruits and vegetables, potentially damaging their crops.

Negative Impacts: crop pest

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Northern mockingbirds eat insects that humans often consider to be pests. These include beetles, ants, wasps and grasshoppers. They also disperse the seeds of many plants. Humans often study their unique behaviors and vast vocal repertoire.

Positive Impacts: research and education; controls pest population

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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Some people may be kept awake at night by the night-time singing of northern mockingbirds. Gardeners and farmers may also loose some of their fruit and vegetable crops to these birds.

Negative Impacts: crop pest

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Northern mockingbirds eat insects that are pests to humans. These insects include beetles, ants, wasps and grasshoppers. Mockingbirds also disperse the seeds of many plants. Humans study the interesting behaviors and the many songs of northern mockingbirds.

Positive Impacts: research and education; controls pest population

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Hybridizes with and considered conspecific with M. GILVUS by some authors (AOU 1998). Phillips (1986) recognized the Saint Andrews Island population (formerly M. GILVUS) as a distinct species, M. MAGNIROSTRIS. Placed in Sturnidae in Sibley and Ahlquist (1984).

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