People have long been fascinated by the many songs and sounds of the mockingbird. Perhaps a curiosity about this bird has led you to wonder: are mockingbirds endangered? What protective measures are in place to keep them safe? And how long do mockingbirds typically live? Keep reading as we answer all of these questions and more.
What You'll Learn Today
Are Mockingbirds Endangered?
There was a time when mockingbird numbers were dangerously low. Many people were capturing and selling them as pets, which resulted in a lot of birds living and dying in captivity.
As you can imagine, this greatly diminished mockingbird breeding in the wild, and birds that weren’t taken captive were often killed as pests. Their numbers dwindled significantly during this time.
Fortunately, it’s now illegal to keep mockingbirds as pets, and various laws are in place to protect mockingbirds and encourage their proliferation in the wild.
These measures have been overwhelmingly successful; mockingbirds are not currently considered endangered. In fact, they are considered a species of least concern by the IUCN.
However, this does not mean you can treat them as pests and do anything you want to them. Even though they are not endangered, there are still measures in place to keep them safe.
Are Mockingbirds a Protected Species?
Yes. Mockingbirds are protected under the Migratory Bird Act, which means they cannot be killed, harmed, handled, or molested in any way.
If mockingbirds are a nuisance around your yard, you can chase them away from the territory using humane methods that won’t hurt them. The trouble is, of course, that they may come back if they have a nest in the area, and the Migratory Bird Act also forbids people from tampering with nests.
For long-term mockingbird control on your property, use harmless deterrents such as fake predators, bird spikes, or old CDs to scare them away and discourage them from perching. Bad smells such as garlic, strong-smelling herbs, and predator urine deterrents may also be helpful.
All of these methods may help you keep mockingbirds away from your house more permanently. If the birds continue to pose a problem, you can try spraying them with a low-pressure water gun, which will frighten them away without hurting them.
How Long Do Mockingbirds Live?
Mockingbirds have a relatively long lifespan compared with other passerine birds. According to the National Wildlife Federation, they may live as long as eight years in their natural habitats.
In captivity, mockingbirds may live even longer due to having access to plenty of food and constant protection. It’s not uncommon for mockingbirds in captivity to live for 20 years.
Despite this greatly increased lifespan, mockingbird numbers went down before it was illegal to sell them as pets. This is because most mockingbirds in captivity weren’t reproducing–and if they were, the babies either died or were also kept in captivity.
Mockingbird numbers have recovered since that time thanks to their protected status and the fact that selling them has become illegal.
Are Mockingbirds Dangerous?
Mockingbirds are not generally dangerous to humans, but they can become extremely aggressive during the nesting season.
The reason behind this aggressive behavior is that they are highly protective of their young; if you get too close to their nest, they may dive bomb you, as you can see in the following video:
Dive-bombing mockingbirds generally won’t hurt you, at least not at first. They will attempt to chase you off without actually beaking or clawing you.
If you don’t get the message, they will resort to increasingly desperate measures. Greatly provoked mockingbirds may poke you with their beaks or scratch you with their talons.
Again, this won’t do much damage to you; but, if the mockingbirds are moving fast enough, they may draw some blood. Any cuts or lacerations you receive should be cleaned well and watched for infection.
Mockingbirds are also highly intelligent; they will remember you if you have intruded on their territory before. In this case, they may attack you again even if you are not close to their nest at the time as a warning to stay away.
Your best bet is to give mockingbirds plenty of space during the breeding season and endeavor to avoid confrontations. This can be a pain if they build a nest in an inconvenient location, such as in a shrub near your front door.
Just do the best you can to stay clear of the protective parents–the babies will eventually grow up and the entire family will move on.
In the meantime, remember–mockingbirds don’t want to hurt you. They are just serious about defending their nest and keeping you out of their territory.
Are Mockingbirds the State Bird of Any State?
Mockingbirds are popular, well-known birds throughout the U.S. Though the species is technically known as the northern mockingbird, it is found in the central and southern states as well.
In fact, the mockingbird is the state bird in five states, all of which are found in the south. These states are:
This may be seen as proof that mockingbird numbers have rebounded since the birds became a protected species. Mockingbirds have become so prevalent in the states listed above that each one considers the mockingbird a state symbol.
Mockingbirds are not endangered, but they are a protected species, so it is illegal to kill or hurt them. They became a protected species after their numbers in the wild declined, but they have rebounded nicely and are now considered a species of least concern.