Do You Know The Mockingbird?

As I’ve made my way along  my ten minute loop drive around our Oyster Cove community each morning, I’ve come to know a pair of Northern Mockingbirds that reside at the end of the tennis courts.  Definitely a territorial bird, the mockingbird will chase other species from the area, while clearly making its presence known.  Mockingbirds are very loud and vocal, and enjoy singing day and night.  Their songs are complicated, as they continue throughout life learning new sounds, including imitating other birds’ songs.  A male mockingbird may learn 200 songs in its lifetime!

I’ve taken many photos of this pair, but have also just sat and watched as they busily fly from branch to branch, keeping their territory protected.  Although they chase others, I’ve watched this pair reside alongside a pair of red-winged blackbirds who are nesting 12 feet away, and a pair of pigeons who are nesting 20 feet away.  Here’s a shot of one of the mockingbirds perched with the male red-winged blackbird.  (The red-winged blackbird’s nest is located below and to the left in the photo.)

Northern Mockingbird and Red-Winged Blackbird

It has felt like the mockingbirds have come to know me as well!  Instead of the immediate vocal flight taken when I arrived, they would stay perched and just watch me, with an occasional song of beauty, no screaming.  Sometimes I didn’t see them until they sang out, giving their location away.  Maybe saying, hi?  😉  Striking such nice poses, I found myself  snapping a shot or two daily, collecting a nice series for my files.  Here are a few of my favorites….

Northern Mockingbird

“The Pose”

“The Stare”

As I watched their activity, I soon learned where their home was located.  Only four feet from the ground in a tree, it was easy to watch from a distance without disturbing them as they busily built their nest; and soon I discovered momma laying low within it, indicating she was incubating.

And now my presence wasn’t welcomed.  I was reprimanded with screams from the dad, as he flew from perch to perch, almost circling me.  I think he wanted to corral me, to force me out of the area!  So from that day on, I drove or walked past them quickly with stopping, giving them the privacy they deserved.

Finally, I knew it had been more than enough time for the eggs to hatch.  This past Tuesday morning, I sat and watched for activity from my car.  Barn swallows and purple martins were soaring everywhere, while my red-winged blackbird buddy sang from his favorite perch above his nest.

And then I heard my mockingbird.  I haven’t been able to figure out how to differentiate between the male and female mockingbird, but I just felt it was momma.  She was perched on the picnic table, with a mouthful of insects.  Yummy!  And that means newborns maybe?

Bringing food to the nest

She then flew into her tree.  Parked 20-25 feet away, I slipped out of my car, saw a clear shot into the tree while on my knees and snapped a few photos, hoping at least one would be focused enough to see if there the nest.  There were three babies, and I somewhat lucked out!  🙂

Three Northern Mockingbird Babies

Those insects didn’t last five seconds!  Momma then flew out of the tree and perched on it higher up.  Another great pose with the berries!

I immediately got up, slowly backed away, and left so I wouldn’t startle her to fly away from the tree.  She just sat there and watched me leave.  The look of goodbye, now leave please!

Wednesday morning I was eager to see the activity at the nest.  We went from cool spring-like days earlier this week, with Tuesday starting to warm up.  But Wednesday morning, we awoke to the heat-wave that has settled over the mid-Atlantic region, with temps due to soar to the mid to high 90’s, and due to feel like over 100 with the humidity.  As all wildlife tries to exist through the heat, I wondered how those three little mockingbirds were going to survive all stuffed down in their nest.

I needn’t worry.  I found all three out of the nest, each perched on a different branch.  They knew what to do.  I found one of the parents perched up on the tennis courts fence, watching over them.  I slowly positioned and was able to get a shot of each one, and then quickly left.  Here’s the three little ones….

Fledging Northern Mockingbird

I’ve since stayed away but am tickled on what I got to see and experience, it was a joy!

Speaking of joys, we have another family of mockingbirds I can see from my balcony.  Here’s one of the parents perched below me on the lower roof, overseeing their territory and nest that is in the marshy grass at the base of our osprey nest platform.

And here’s his/her two fledglings.  I’ve been photographing them as well, but they don’t stay still very long; and they’re about 150-200 feet from me.

Fledgling Northern Mockingbirds

I have one final Northern Mockingbird photo to share that was taken at Lippincott’s Marina next door in their parking lot.  I did not review the three photos I took until today and was surprised by the image in all three.  In the background was a sailboat’s staff, which to me looks like a cross.  I did not touch the image except brighten and crop it.  (The ‘circle’ image on the cross is something hanging on the sailboat, not a blemish on my lens.)  I thought this capture turned out special…  🙂

I hope you enjoyed the Northern Mockingbird through my lens!  As always, thank you very much for stopping by, it is a pleasure to share my photos with you.  🙂

42 thoughts on “Do You Know The Mockingbird?

  1. Super photos! We don’t have Mockingbirds here, but I got to know them in Arizona. They are great birds and you are fortunate to be accepted by them!

    • Thanks Terry! With the vehicles parking or riding by our community marina there often, my ‘car blind’ works wonders. And I’ve learned when getting out, to move very slow & with little noise to gain their trust. Still, I’ve been told off a time or two….and more, lol!

  2. Incredibly good photos once again, and of a great subject! I have seen them in Michigan, but never near any of the places I have lived. I do love their cousins, the catbirds and brown thrasher, both of whom have songs very much like the mockingbird’s.

    • Thanks Jerry! I meant to mention that I had learned the mockingbird was the state bird for five states: Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas; and how common they are throughout the U.S. But goes to show with you that it is still a treat when seeing one, they might not be so common ‘everywhere’. I’m seeing catbirds but still looking for a brown thrasher here!

  3. You have some great shots here, Donna. So nice to see the babies and fledglings at different stages-well done!it is nice to see the maple leaves in the first few too. It is hard work being a parent .We don’t normally see these here but one year a mockingbird was in someone’s backyard in Edmonton for some time and people came from miles to see it-the home owner was very accommodating

  4. I happen to love mockingbirds so this was a special treat. I have stood below them often when I find them perched up above somewhere and just listen with wonder at the variety of calls – each one different from the one before. Incredible shots of the babies, the mother with bugs in her beak, in amongst the branches. Thank you!

    • You’re welcome Mary, and thanks for your comments! If I don’t see the mockingbird, he can have me all confused as to what species is singing. I got very lucky on being at the right place at the right time for the baby shots and momma with the bugs. Precious moments!

  5. Donna I enjoyed your post very much, you’ve done a terrific job by documenting the N. Mockingbirds family. Your photos are beautiful and your composition impeccable.
    The only difference between male and female NM I’ve noticed from all of mine is the female drop their wings down. That’s the only thing I found!
    Thanks for sharing dear! 🙂

    • Thank you very much HJ! 🙂 The wing-drop on the female is interesting info, I’ll now start paying attention to see if I notice that too. Is size possibly another difference? I thought I was noticing the female being a bit more stouter, the male more slimmer.

  6. Awesome. I usually only see the mockingbird when visiting a particular local park. But the other day when driving I saw one facing off with a large crow and lunging at it there on the ground.

    • Thank you Scott! It’s pretty impressive to see the smaller birds chase the larger ones, some of the attacks can be quite dramatic. As for the larger bird, sometimes they’ve got the look of bewilderment as they desperately try to get away from those little pecking beaks and sharp little claws, lol.

  7. Great post! I admire your “slow and easy” approach to birds – this certainly paid off! Awesome photos of the babies in the nest and in the tree. There are many mockingbirds here and I enjoy watching them launch themselves up from bare branches in the tops of pecan trees as they catch insects. It is fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Fantastic images Donna, a lot of great images here 🙂 2&3 are amazing, something about the way it pops out… I also like the images of the babies with their beaks open… a very raw moment 🙂

  9. Great job of documenting this family. I particulary love the baby pic of the fluufy headed one and the final picture with the cross in the background (no matter what is was). I really appreciate your patience with them and allowing them their peace … thank you. I’ve seen literally 1,000’s of Mockers and there really is no way to sex them. Thanks for the wonderful post and thank you for all your wonderful comments on mine, I relly do appreciate them. Tom

    • Thank you so much Tom, I appreciate your comments always! And do enjoy your site as well, you share beautiful images and great info, and I always love your chuckles! 🙂

    • I’ve been watching the two babies in the last shots from my balcony that are in the vicinity of the osprey platform, they are now flying. And so demanding for more food! They are real comical, you’d love to watch them, Ed.

  10. Incredible as usual Donna! The babies are just too much. I am about to post about some red-breasted robin babies we saw out of their nest – you are right, it must have been because of the heat! What a treasure to capture them on film like that. The photos are beautiful.

  11. Pingback: Waiting for Mom « The Eastern Bay

  12. Hi Donna, I really enjoyed your photo essay on the Mockers! These birds are clever interesting and handsome/lovely. I have been occasionally fooled by the vocals that were not what I was expecting at all. A case of misidentification by me when I heard a woodpecker and it was you know who! Ha! Really nice set of photographs, especially those of the baby birds. Have a wonderful day tomorrow!

    • Thanks WLW! I am still constantly fooled by the mockingbird. We have so many around, and when I think I’ve heard another species, there the mockingbird is. I scold them to stop teasing me, lol, I am trying to learn!

  13. Donna I was trying to find some info on how to tell the male from female mockingbird. Have a pair that enjoys nesting outside the kitchen window. I love watching and feeding birds. Blue birds being one of my favorites. Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your comments and photos. Thanks! Carol

    • Hi Carol, thank you for visiting my blog! The Northern Mockingbird is one of those birds where there is little difference between the male and female. Because you have a pair, you might be able to distinguish though, as the male is slighter larger than the female. Hope that helps with your visiting pair! 🙂

  14. What a wonderful series of photos. And what a privilege to get to see the babies. I am glad your patience paid off. I find mockingbirds so inspiring, and their song repertoire astounding.

    • Thanks Tanja! It is always a joy to hear just how many they will do in a few hours. Many times before I see them, I’ll hear a song and then am surprised it is a Mockingbird. They are definitely quite smart! 🙂

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