Northern Mockingbird: Bird Symbol of Five States

By Dave Hanks

It is not only a symbol for 5 states (Texas – Mississippi – Arkansas – Tennessee – Florida), but it is also in a book title – To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s said to be a sin to kill one. Quote from the book: “They don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a Mockingbird.” Probably the reason the Mockingbird was selected so often as a symbol, is due to its very pretty song and the rare ability to mimic the songs of other birds – even to sing a medley using other bird’s songs. Barking dogs, pianos, and squeaky gates can also be imitated. In spring, only the male sings. He will sing for hours – day and night. Both sexes sing in autumn to claim feeding territories.

This is not one of the colorful species, but quite attractive in spite of it. Its behavior, larger size, white front with a faint pinkish wash on the sides, white wing bars on its gray body, yellow eye ring around its pupil, and long beak; all these traits compensate for the lack of showy colors.

Mockingbirds are very territorial and aggressive against any intruder that gets close to their nest. They will even attack their own reflection. This omnivorous bird requires open grassy areas with thorny bushes to nest in. They will readily come to a water source or to feed – especially fruit or suet.

If one ventures south or southeast, this species can be easily observed. They are very apparent as their habit is to perch in the open on a bush or tree top. Even though they are a plain bird, they don’t seem so to us because they have so much “personality”. We are always excited to see them!

(Always obvious)