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A mockingbird is the state bird of Arkansas. More specifically, it is the northern mockingbird that stands as that state’s symbol. Made official in Arkansas in 1929, the mockingbird is also the state bird of Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas.
The practice of officially selecting state animals, birds, flowers and fish to symbolize a state is a longstanding tradition in America. Though the state bird of Arkansas only averages 10 inches in length with a wingspan of just 14 inches, it is known to be an astute sentry. Guarding nests against possible predators, mockingbirds are frequently seen swooping down on neighborhood pets or chasing away much larger birds, such as crows, if they feel the slightest bit threatened by an intruder’s proximity to a nest. While guarding nests, two mockingbirds will pair up to sit at separate strategic points near a nest while making different sounds to warn of possible predators.
Due to their ability to mimic the sounds of other birds, as well as insects and fish, the state bird of Arkansas is appropriately called the mockingbird. These small creatures even have the ability to imitate the sound of mechanical objects, such as motor vehicles and lawn mowers. Generally, these birds can be found in urban neighborhoods perched on fences, antennae and telephone wires while singing one of as many as 200 different songs. Some homeowners have been surprised to find that a mere two or three mockingbirds, with their ability to make so many sounds, have been able to give the illusion of being an entire flock of varying birds nearby.
Not considered to be a small bird, like a hummingbird or a sparrow, the state bird of Arkansas does not qualify as being particularly large, either. Medium in size and slender, the mockingbird’s long tail does give it the illusion of being slightly larger, especially when in flight. Featured in shades of gray and brown, with a smidgeon of white on its wings and tail feathers, the state bird of Arkansas can sometimes be seen flapping its wings while perched to advertise for a mate. Males who have not yet mated also sing at night.
In addition to the northern mockingbird being the state bird of Arkansas, its other state symbols include the Diana Fritillary butterfly, the white-tailed deer and the honeybee. Arkansas’ state flower is the apple blossom and the pine tree is its state tree. While the state bird of Arkansas has approximately 200 songs in its repertoire, they do not sing any of the state’s four official songs.
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