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What Is the State Bird of Mississippi?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 11 August 2014
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State legislatures in the United States (US) often choose birds, flowers, and other official symbols for their states, and the state bird of Mississippi is the mockingbird. Since the 1920s, every state in the US has chosen an official state bird. Mockingbirds are native to Mississippi as well as other states, with males and females each having distinct characteristics. These birds love to dwell in the Mississippi magnolia trees, and are known for their ability to vocalize, mimic and sing up to 200 songs.

The official state bird of Mississippi was a favorite among the Mississippi Federation of Women's Clubs during the 1940s. This club initiated a campaign to have the state legislature select the mockingbird as the official state bird of Mississippi. The governor signed the legislation designating the mockingbird the official state bird in 1944.

Early spring is the natural breeding season for mockingbirds. This is when a mockingbird will choose its mate and make a nest from twigs and grass, typically near the edge of a forest. A brood will typically consist of four or five eggs, although it is unlikely for all of them to hatch. In most cases, the incubation period may be nearly two weeks. In many instances, mockingbird eggs will be eaten by predators, primarily snakes.

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It is fairly common to find mockingbirds gathering around farmland during the cold months in Mississippi. In search of food, the state bird of Mississippi will often descend upon the farmers' crops. Fruits, seeds, and nuts are favorites of these birds, although the mockingbird will devour insects as well. Once spring has arrived, the males can be heard vocalizing and singing their melodious songs.

Mockingbirds got their name from their unique ability to mimic songs and vocalizations from various species of birds and insects. The males are typically stronger in vocalization and pitch, with females having a softer tone. The vocalization of mockingbirds will typically be heard at night.

These birds are gray, with black around the bill. Males and females are similar in appearance, making them difficult to differentiate. This bird is also noted for its long gray tail, with distinctive white border.

The mockingbird, known in scientific terms as mimus polyglyottos, is the official state bird of five American states. In addition to Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas have chosen this species as an official symbol. Texas adopted the mockingbird as its official state bird in 1927, before it became the state bird of Mississippi.

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shell4life
Post 4

Mockingbirds around here feast on wild poke berries. These grow all over in Mississippi, particularly in uncultivated land. Birds love to pick these dark purple berries off their pink stems.

I have also seen mockingbirds munching on blackberries. I have twenty bushes that grow along the fence between my land and a cow pasture, and they produce huge, sweet berries. Mockingbirds sometimes pick only part of a berry, leaving the rest on the vine, since they are so big.

Ordinarily, I don't like wildlife eating my crops. However, I can make an exception in this case, since I have way more blackberries than I could possibly eat alone.

lighth0se33
Post 3

@OeKc05 – I find the mockingbird fascinating. I live in Connecticut, but I often visit my husband's family in Mississippi, and every time we are down there, we hear mockingbirds singing something different.

I once decided to toy with one. I whistled three short notes to see if it would mimic me. I had to do it several times in succession, but he finally caught on and copied me.

I could actually tell that he had stopped singing to listen to my tune. He spied the opportunity to learn a new song, and he seized it. Because of me, he will probably be singing his new song to many people around the area.

OeKc05
Post 2

My yard has both Mississippi's state flower and bird in it, so I guess that makes me pretty loyal to the tradition around here! The magnolia tree actually was planted before I was even born, because it is taller than my house and covered in blooms.

I suppose the girth and health of the tree is the reason I have so many mockingbirds here. I love to listen to them, because they never bore me. They have a vast variety of tunes to chirp, so they don't get annoying, like regular birds that make one sound often do.

kylee07drg
Post 1

I have lived in Mississippi all my life, and I am very familiar with the mockingbird. My dad used to build birdhouses in hopes that bluebirds would nest there, but almost every year, the mockingbirds would settle in instead.

He would get upset about this, because mockingbirds were so common. He wanted to see beautiful, brightly colored bluebirds hanging out in the yard instead of the dull gray mockingbird.

Still, he didn't have the heart to kick them out of the houses. He even put some spikes and wires around the base of the houses to keep snakes from climbing the poles and eating the birds and their eggs.

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