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Northern Mockingbird

Photo Credit: Brady Beck

The only mockingbird – its mimicking ability is the reason for its name – commonly found in our area is the northern mockingbird. The adult is a medium-sized slender songbird with a long tail, long legs and a small head. Its upperparts are gray to brown, and the breast and belly are a pale whitish-gray color. White patches on the tail and wing are visible in flight. A year-round resident, the mockingbird frequents forest edges and open areas but forages in grassy plots where it dines on both insects and fruits. It is often seen walking or running on the ground as it tries to catch insects. Sometimes it flies up and hovers to grab at hanging fruit and also perches in trees and shrubs as it eats berries. The bird is popularized in culture such as in the first lines of a Southern lullaby: “Hush, little baby, don’t say a word. Mama’s going to buy you a mockingbird. And if that bird don’t sing, Mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.” Portrayed as innocent in the celebrated novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, mockingbirds “don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.” Sing they do, almost endlessly and sometimes at night, although nighttime singing is more common during a full moon. They continue to add new songs to their repertoires, and males can learn up to 200 songs, which can consist of a long series of phrases and last as long as 20 seconds. Males also alter song selections by season. 34 OutreachNC.com | DECEMBER 2018

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OutreachNC December 2018  

The Trading Traditions Issue

OutreachNC December 2018  

The Trading Traditions Issue