There are 15 popular types of mockingbirds that are well-known songbirds and are found throughout the continental U.S., but few people realize that there are more than 15 species of mockingbird, each of which has its own unique appearance and range.
These birds can’t be kept as pets because they’re wild animals, but they can be found in parks and backyards across America, especially during breeding season from mid-March to early September.
Mockingbirds have been around in the United States since the time of the Native Americans and European settlers, but despite their presence in backyards across the country, not all people know much about them – and neither do they realize that there are different species of mockingbirds just like there are different species of dogs or cats.
Here are 15 different types of mockingbirds you need to know about in case you come across one in your travels!
Types of mockingbirds
Northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
Northern mockingbirds are the most widespread mockingbird species in North America. It is found in the western two-thirds of the United States and has even been spotted as far north as the Canadian prairies. They are usually found singly or in pairs but will congregate in groups during their annual migrations and winter.
Northern mockingbirds build a variety of nests for breeding, roosting, and predator protection that have great variation between populations and individuals. Nests can be built from twigs, bark strips, weeds, and mosses.
These birds use mud to coat the outside of their nest cup which may contain up to four layers (with the innermost layer being lined with plant material). The female northern mockingbird lays 3-5 eggs each year in April-May, which she incubates for 12 days before they hatch. Young fledge after about 10 days and are independent within three weeks.
Blue Mockingbird (Melanotis caerulescens)
The blue mockingbird is one of the most widespread birds in North America. It can be found from Mexico all the way up to Canada. It feeds on insects, small mammals, and a variety of other foods depending on where it lives.
They are migratory and will make their way back to Central and South America in winter. These long journeys have made them a symbol of migration, which you can see illustrated in their beautiful blue coloring. Blue mockingbirds are monogamous and mate for life – even if one dies, the other won’t find another partner.
Tropical mockingbird (Mimus gilvus)
Tropical mockingbirds are small but mighty birds that inhabit parts of Central and South America. They have brownish upper parts with dark streaks, gray wings, and white undersides with dark streaking as well.
Male mockingbirds are a little larger than females and they also sing louder in their mating displays. Females lay up to 4 eggs in a nest at a time and will take turns incubating them for 14 days before they hatch. It takes about 3 weeks for the chicks to fledge from the nest.
Blue-and-white mockingbird (Melanotis hypoleucus)
The blue-and-white mockingbird is a medium-sized bird native to Madagascar, Mauritius, and the Reunion. As with many members of the Melanocharitidae family, they are omnivores who will take a wide variety of food items such as grasshoppers, cicadas, beetles, snails, and berries.
They nest in pairs during the breeding season, but can often be found nesting in groups when conditions are good. They typically have 3-4 eggs per clutch which hatch after 12 days of incubation.
Hood mockingbird (Mimus macdonaldi)
The Hood mockingbird (Mimus macdonaldi) is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. These birds primarily reside in desert habitats but have also been spotted in suburbs and mountainous areas. They prefer large branches where they can build nests during the breeding season, as well as tall shrubs with leaves for nesting in winter.
For these reasons, the hood mockingbird prefers higher elevations of up to 5500 feet. Adults are 12-14 inches long with a wingspan of 21-25 inches. Females weigh around 13 ounces while males are slightly heavier at 14 ounces.
Chalk browed mockingbird (Mimus saturninus)
The chalk-browed mockingbird is found in the southeastern coastal states of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. This bird has a distinct white line on its forehead that makes it appear as if it’s been drawing with chalk on its brow. That’s why they’re sometimes called chalk-browed mockingbirds.
The birds inhabit thorny bushes and small trees, feeding mostly on fruits from nearby trees. They also eat insects such as beetles, caterpillars, spiders, and crickets. Females build their nests on tree branches using twigs and leaves while males are rarely seen near the nest. They have one brood per year.
Galapagos mockingbird (Mimus parvulus)
The Galapagos mockingbird (Mimus parvulus) is a small, long-legged species of bird in the family Mimidae. This mockingbird has black feathers with gray or brown patches on the neck and upper breast that extend down the side of the body. It lives only on Floreana Island and has declined due to human exploitation and predation by introduced rats.
At one time it was abundant but now there are fewer than 100 individuals left. They live mainly on the ground among cacti and low scrubland and eat insects, lizards, fruits, berries, invertebrates, and small vertebrates such as young mice. There are no subspecies recognized within this species’ range.
Bahama mockingbird (Mimus gundlachii)
Mimus gundlachii is the only endemic species in the Bahamas. The Bahama mockingbird has been listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 1994, and has only survived by living on small remote islands where they had found refuge from rats and cats.
They build their nests in trees close to water or sea level, making them difficult to locate by researchers. It’s believed that there are less than 2,000 individual birds left alive today.
Mimus gundlachii is a shy bird that typically spends most of its time perched quietly at the top of a tree.
However, it does emit a shrill call to warn off intruders such as predators or other potential threats. As with other mockingbirds, this species will eat fruits and insects; this bird will also consume spiders which can make up 30% of its diet!
Brown-backed Mockingbird (Mimus dorsalis)
The smallest mockingbird species in Central America and Panama with a small range limited to rainforest and semi-deciduous habitats, which means they may be vulnerable.
Brown-backed Mockingbirds are plain brown, like the American Robin or the Northern Flicker, but also have a dark mask around their eyes and a faint dark spot on the wings.
They’re pretty secretive and don’t often show themselves as much as other mockingbirds, so it’s hard to find good photos of them!
Floreana mockingbird (Mimus trifasciatus)
Floreana mockingbird, or Mimus trifasciatus, is one of the most spectacular bird species in existence. It has glossy feathers that range from green to yellow-brown and its tail feathers can be red, black, or brown.
The Floreana mockingbird lives on Española Island off the coast of Ecuador and survives on insects and grubs.
Most interestingly, this bird’s song resembles sounds created by squeaky doors and rusty hinges so predators are deterred from approaching their nests. However, the males’ vocalization doesn’t mimic any other sound found in nature.
What it does do is attract females who typically sing back at them and encourage them to come closer.
Mimus trifasciatus resides in a remote area of Ecuador where it mainly eats small invertebrates like beetles, ants, and grasshoppers.
Socorro mockingbird (Mimus graysoni)
The Socorro mockingbird (Mimus graysoni) is the only known species that lives on the West Coast of North America. These birds are migratory, migrating south in winter and north in summer. Along their journey, they stop in the Channel Islands and Baja California during their migrations.
When in winter quarters, these birds will congregate in groups with other species of mockingbirds. They forage for food by looking for seeds or fruits on the ground.=
Patagonian mockingbird (Mimus patagonicus)
The Patagonian mockingbird is a small species that reaches about five inches in length. The head and back are blue-grey, while the underside is white. It is found in southern Chile and Argentina. This species prefers forests but can be found near human habitation as well, even in urban areas.
Males have a lovely whistling song, which can often be heard year-round at their breeding sites. They feed on insects and fruit. The Patagonian mockingbird’s conservation status is Least Concern.
Long tailed mockingbird (Mimus longicaudatus)
The long tailed mockingbird is the longest species, ranging from 12.5-13 inches in length. Males have a black and white crown and a long tail, while females lack the crown and have black upper parts with white underparts.
Both sexes are slate gray below, with black outer tail feathers for males and brown for females. In other areas of their range, these birds are also known as crested mockingbirds or chalk mockingbirds because of their striking head coloration.
The long tailed mockingbird ranges from southern Arizona south into Central America, east through Costa Rica and Nicaragua. They typically inhabit open habitats such as pastureland, scrub forest, oak woodland, and agricultural land – but can be found at elevations up to 10,000 feet!
White banded mockingbird (Mimus triurus)
The White banded mockingbird (Mimus triurus) is a white and black bird. It lives in Southern Brazil, the Andes of Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and parts of Peru. It inhabits evergreen forests at higher elevations. They do not form large flocks but instead roam from tree to tree.
These birds are mainly insectivores but will also eat eggs and small vertebrates found on the ground like lizards or frogs. White banded mockingbirds sing with rapid series of melodic notes, usually ending with an echoing refrain. They also have their own type of song that resembles the songs of other species such as the Southern masked weaver and song thrush.
Chilean mockingbird (Mimus thenca)
The Chilean mockingbird, also known as Mimus thenca, though it isn’t found exclusively in this region. This species belongs to the family Mimidae and has a varied diet that includes frogs, lizards, insects, and even small rodents.
Despite its size, this bird’s amazing singing ability often earns it the name little nightingale. In an experiment conducted by British ornithologist G.A. Dixey, he discovered that these birds imitate other sounds and are able to reproduce any sound they hear with precision if they listen to it for at least 20 minutes. For example, one of his subjects was able to produce a perfect copy of the song of a robin after listening for only ten minutes!