If you enjoy the many songs of the mockingbird, you may be wondering how to attract more of them to your area. Of course, the key to attracting any wildlife is providing an abundant source of the foods they enjoy. So, what do mockingbirds eat? What are some of their favorite foods, and what do they feed their babies? Keep reading! In this article, we’ll answer all of these questions.
What You'll Learn Today
What is a Mockingbird’s Favorite Food?
Mockingbirds don’t appear to have a single favorite food. They are opportunistic omnivores who eat a variety of foods depending on what is in season.
During the warmer months, mockingbirds eat mostly insects. Some of their favorite insects include grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, wasps, and ants.
They will also eat other invertebrates such as spiders, earthworms and snails. Occasionally, if food is scarce or they are especially hungry, they will eat small lizards or even crayfish that they scoop out of the water.
In the colder months, when insects die off or go into hibernation, mockingbirds turn to eating more plant-based foods. Of these, their favorites appear to be a variety of fruits and berries.
They also eat some types of seeds and grains, and occasionally they will eat from suet feeders. If you want to attract mockingbirds to your yard, try setting out some pieces of fresh or dried fruit on a platform feeder, or hang a suet feeder from a stand or tree branch.
Check out this video of a mockingbird eating suet:
What Fruits Do Mockingbirds Eat?
Again, mockingbirds are not very particular about their diet. When it comes to the fruits and berries they like to eat, they will take whatever is available.
Some of the fruits you may see them eating include:
- Mulberries: Mulberries are an early spring fruit that many types of birds love. Mockingbirds are no exception, as they will eat these fruits during the transition period between winter and summer before many insects begin appearing.
- Holly: A winter-fruiting plant, holly provides a valuable source of food to mockingbirds throughout the coldest months of the year.
- Grapes: Mockingbirds will eat both cultivated and wild grapes, especially those left on the vine into the fall and winter months.
- Brambles: Mockingbirds will sometimes eat the fruits off of brambles throughout the colder months, particularly if they can’t find many other foods.
- Figs: Figs provide a tasty source of food and energy-giving nutrients during the winter months. Though they don’t typically find them in the wild, they will eat them if you put chopped figs out on your feeder.
- Other fruits: Speaking of fruits to put on your feeder, mockingbirds will eat a number of cultivated fruits as well if they are available. Try mashing or breaking a banana in pieces, grating an apple or pear, or offering some blueberries.
What Do Baby Mockingbirds Eat?
Baby mockingbirds have a diet similar to the adults, though they are perhaps a bit more picky. Especially during the first few days of life, they have a very limited diet because there are only a few foods they are able to eat.
Baby mockingbirds receive their first meal from their mother in the form of a nutrient-rich secretion from her crop. This secretion is known as “pigeon’s milk.”
Over the next couple of days, the babies are fed primarily soft-bodied insects and invertebrates. Beetle larvae are a favorite food source, as are small caterpillars and other types of worms.
During this time, baby mockingbirds eat very little; only about half a gram of food each day. After the first week of their life, the portions they eat will begin to increase as they eat foods more similar to what the adults eat.
As they approach adulthood, baby mockingbirds will eat a variety of insects, whatever the parents bring to them. The parents may also begin to feed them seeds, fruits, and berries as well.
Parents continue to feed their babies for several days after they leave the nest, though they also begin to teach them how to hunt and forage for their own food.
Throughout the nesting seas, both of the parents will take turns feeding and caring for the babies.
Mockingbirds eat a variety of insects, fruits, berries, and seeds depending on what is most available and in season. They feed their babies a secretion known as pigeon’s milk and soft-bodied insects such as beetle larvae before the babies graduate to eating the same foods as the adults.