Mockingbirds are well-known from the book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and the birds themselves are just as popular because of their melodic song and ability to mimic other birds and animals. You may be wondering if you’ve ever heard a mockingbird. Do they live in your area? Where do mockingbirds live, exactly? Keep reading as we answer these questions and more!
What You'll Learn Today
Where Do Mockingbirds Live?
Mockingbirds were originally found only in southern and eastern parts of the United States, but their range has expanded over time to include much of the U.S. northern Mexico, and southern Canada.
Mockingbirds are the state bird of five U.S. States: Texas, Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee, and Mississippi. That said, they can be found in every state, even sporadically in Hawaii and the southern parts of Alaska.
Those that have found their way into parts of Canada spend the spring, summer and fall in these regions, but may migrate south if the weather turns too cold. That said, though they are technically considered migratory birds, the majority of mockingbirds stay in their native locations year-round.
Where Do Mockingbirds Nest?
Mockingbirds generally prefer to build their nests between three and ten feet off the ground, though they sometimes build them much higher. They are not especially picky about their nesting locations, though there are certain types of sites they use more frequently than others.
In particular, they seem to prefer regions of low-growing shrubbery as well as open grassy areas.
They usually build their nests in trees or shrubs in suburban areas, woodlands, farms, along roadsides, and in thickets. They like areas that provide plenty of cover for their nests but that also have open spaces where they can forage for food.
Check out this video of mockingbirds in their native habitats:
How Long Do Mockingbirds Stay in the Nest?
Mockingbirds lay between two and six eggs three or four times a year. The mother bird incubates the eggs for about twelve days before the babies hatch out.
Once the babies have hatched, both parents take turns feeding them for the next several days. The baby birds grow quickly during this time.
Mockingbird babies typically leave the nest about twelve or thirteen days after hatching. Flying doesn’t come easily at first, so they rarely venture far from the nest on their first try.
Instead, they continue to hang around the nest for another week or so, being fed by their parents and taught by their father how to fly and forage for their own food.
Finally, once this learning period is over, they will strike out on their own to search for their own territory.
So, mockingbirds initially leave the nest after about twelve days; but it may be eighteen days or more after hatching before they are really ready to leave home.
Once one brood of babies have left the nest, parents begin constructing a new nest to raise their next brood.
Why Are Mockingbirds Protected?
Mockingbird numbers in the wild dropped steadily over a couple hundred years. During the 1700s and 1800s, the cage bird trade was alive and well; people would capture mockingbirds and other wild birds to keep as pets.
Mockingbirds were particularly popular because of their distinctive bird songs and their ability to mimic birds. As a result, they nearly disappeared from the wild for a time.
The cage bird industry came to an end in the early 1900s; shortly after that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 made it illegal to tamper with migratory birds of any kind.
For these reasons, mockingbird numbers began to recover. Not only that; their range expanded to include much more of North America than it previously had.
This could be due, in part, to people who had owned the birds throughout the U.S. releasing them back into the wild. At any rate, their numbers have greatly increased as their populations have expanded.
Mockingbirds are protected because they are considered migratory and because they were once in danger of disappearing from the wild. They are not on the endangered species list, but the Migratory Bird Treaty Act ensures that they are left alone so that, hopefully, they will never become endangered.
Mockingbirds live throughout the United States as well as parts of Mexico and Canada. Those that live in the north sometimes migrate to southern regions during the winter; for this reason, mockingbirds are considered migratory birds and, as such, are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.