Have you ever wondered if that gray bird in your backyard is really a mockingbird? Could it be something else entirely? Keep reading! In this article, we’ll discuss several kinds of birds that look like mockingbirds and how you can tell them apart.
What You'll Learn Today
Birds That Look Like Mockingbirds
Two main species of shrike closely resemble mockingbirds: the loggerhead shrike and the northern shrike. Northern shrikes are found throughout much of North America and parts of Asia, while loggerhead shrikes are found primarily in the United States and Mexico.
Both of these types of shrikes are slightly smaller than mockingbirds, though it would be hard to tell the difference unless you were comparing them side by side. What’s more, shrikes have similar coloring to mockingbirds, making it easy to confuse them.
Both northern and loggerhead shrikes have a dark band across the head reaching back from each eye. Mockingbirds do not have this band.
The shrikes also have darker markings on their wings and tails. While mockingbirds also have wings and tails that are darker than their bodies, the contrast is not as noticeable.
Finally, both shrikes have larger heads in relation to their bodies than mockingbirds do.
2. Gray Catbirds
Gray catbirds belong to the same family as mockingbirds. They are found throughout much of North America and parts of Central America.
They are slightly smaller than mockingbirds, but this size difference is so minimal it would be hard to notice unless you were comparing them side by side. Gray catbirds also have similar body and head shapes as mockingbirds.
The main difference between the two types of birds is their coloring. Mockingbirds are generally light gray with lighter undersides, while gray catbirds are consistently dark gray all over.
If you are close enough, you may also spot brownish undertail regions on the catbirds. Also, mockingbirds have yellow eyes, while catbirds have black eyes.
3. Townsend’s Solitaires
Townsend’s solitaires are found primarily throughout western North America. On first glance, these birds look remarkably similar to mockingbirds.
They are both nearly the same size, and both have lighter gray bodies with darker gray, striped wings and tails. Even their bodies are shaped similarly.
That said, mockingbirds have mostly white undersides, while Towndsend’s solitaires are gray all over. What’s more, solitaires have large, black eyes with a striking white ring around them, while mockingbirds have slightly smaller, yellow eyes.
4. Gray Flycatchers
Gray flycatchers are found throughout western North America. It is easy to confuse them with mockingbirds except for a couple of details.
Gray flycatchers have gray backs and heads with darker, striped feathers and tails; they also have white bellies. They share all of these characteristics with mockingbirds.
However, gray flycatchers are noticeably smaller than mockingbirds, at only five inches long. This makes them about half the size of mockingbirds, which usually grow to about 10 inches long.
Also, gray flycatchers have large black eyes surrounded by white rings, as opposed to the yellow eyes of mockingbirds.
5. Lucy’s Warbler
Lucy’s warblers have a very small range in the southwestern United States and Mexico. From a distance, it is possible to confuse them with mockingbirds.
Both Lucy’s warblers and mockingbirds are similarly colored, with pale gray backs and white underparts. That is where the similarity ends, however.
Lucy’s warblers are tiny, only three to four inches long. They also tend to have more brownish feathers at their tails.
They have dark eyes as well, which are often surrounded by a striking white ring. Again, mockingbirds have yellow eyes, so this is one good way to tell them apart.
6. Warbling Vireo
The warbling vireo is found throughout much of North and Central America.
This pretty little songbird is very similar in appearance to the mockingbird: both birds have light gray backs and wings with white underparts. Their body shapes are also similar, and they are both known for singing loud, distinctive songs.
However, warbling vireos are much smaller than mockingbirds, topping out at around 4 to 5 inches long. They also have dark brown eyes which help to set them apart from mockingbirds.
Listen to the warbling vireo sing its song in the video below:
7. Sage Thrashers
Sage thrashers are found primarily in the western United States and northern Mexico.
These birds are slightly smaller than mockingbirds, but the size difference would be hard to notice unless they were sitting beside each other. Both sage thrashers and mockingbirds have similar-looking yellow eyes and body shapes.
The main thing that sets them apart is the coloring and patterning of the sage thrashers. These birds are gray to brown-gray in color, and their lighter underparts are covered in dark gray-brown spots.
Two types of kingbird are similar in appearance to the mockingbird: the eastern kingbird and the gray kingbird.
The eastern kingbird is widely distributed throughout much of the United States, and it overwinters in parts of Central and South America. The gray kingbird has a much smaller range and is mostly limited to the Caribbean Islands and a few coastal regions of the Americas.
Both of these birds are gray in color, and they are similar in size to the mockingbird. They both have darker backs, heads, tails, and wings with lighter bellies, just as mockingbirds do.
However, both types of kingbird have darker gray coloring than mockingbirds do. They also have dark eyes instead of the yellow eyes of mockingbirds.
What’s more, the gray kingbird has a noticeably larger beak and tends to sit very erect and regal, whereas the mockingbird tends to sit at more of a foreword angle similar to most other birds.
9. Canada Jay
Canada jays, as the name implies, are found primarily throughout Canada, as well as northern parts of the United States.
These pretty birds look quite similar to mockingbirds and are similar in size. They have gray, lined wings and tails and lighter underparts.
However, if you look closely, you will see that their bellies are gray, not white like mockingbirds. What’s more, they have a distinctive dark gray mark on their head that extends back from each eye.
Finally, Canada jays have dark eyes as opposed to the yellow eyes of mockingbirds.
10. Grey Trembler
The grey trembler is in the same family as the mockingbird. It is found only on the islands of Saint Lucia and Martinique in the Caribbean.
This bird is almost exactly the same size as the mockingbird, and it has the same striking yellow eyes as the mockingbird has. It is also generally gray with darker wings and lighter underparts.
That said, grey tremblers are generally darker than mockingbirds, and they have noticeably longer beaks. What’s more, they have a much smaller range than mockingbirds, so it is unlikely these two birds will ever be seen in the same region at once.
Though there are many birds that look similar to mockingbirds, they all have physical characteristics that will help you tell them apart. Some of the birds that look like mockingbirds include shrikes, kingbirds, gray catbirds, sage thrashers, and Canada jays.