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What Is the State Bird of Texas?

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  • Written By: S. Ashraf
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 18 April 2014
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In 1927, at the request of the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Texas State Legislature passed an act officially making the mockingbird the state bird of Texas. Mockingbirds, as the Legislature noted in naming the species the state bird of Texas, are found throughout the year in all parts of the state, from the prairies to the woods. Equally as important, the Legislature singled out the mockingbird for its reputation in protecting its territory and, if required, falling in battle defending it, like all true Texans would do. Other U.S. states also feel strongly about the mockingbird — Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and Florida have made it their state bird as well.

The northern mockingbird, as the state bird of Texas is also known, is closely related to thrashers and catbirds and is a medium-sized songbird. Physically, mature mockingbirds are slim and tall with a slender bill and long tail. Their bodies are almost all gray except for some patches of white feathers on their tails and wings. Males and females resemble each other, but juvenile mockingbirds can be distinguished because these birds have mottled or spotted chests until adulthood. On average, mockingbirds are 9-11 inches (23-28 cm) in length, weigh 1-2 ounces (28-56 g) and have a wingspan of 13-15 inches (33-38 cm).

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Although it is the state bird of Texas, the mockingbird is widely distributed beyond the borders of the state. Geographically, this bird can be found from southern Canada to southern Mexico as well as across the United States. Mockingbirds also live on a variety of Caribbean islands, such as Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico and Jamaica.

Its choice of habitat is as equally varied as its choice of location. They are found in residential areas, city parks, farmlands and desert brush, and they are often found perched high on vegetation, telephone poles or fences. As the state of Texas observed, mockingbirds are very territorial. Any intruder that comes close to the territory that a mockingbirds has marked as its own will be attacked. This bird is even known to attack its own reflection.

Beginning in late winter, a male mockingbird will stake out its nesting territory. A female entering the area will, initially, be pursued with aggressive calls. If she is unreceptive, his calls will soften as he courts her.

During mating season, mockingbirds sing almost continuously, day and night. The male constructs the nest’s foundation while the female finishes and lines it. Females mockingbirds lay three to five eggs and incubate them for about two weeks.

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Discuss this Article

kylee07drg
Post 4

Mockingbirds can be vicious! I have always had a fear of having my head pecked by a bird, and these came closest to fulfilling that fear.

I had been walking through an area where a mockingbird was nesting, when suddenly, a bird started dipping down from above and squawking at me. It came dangerously close to my head, which I covered with my hands and ran away as fast as possible.

I saw two mockingbirds in the same area trying to attack my dog. They both swooped down very close to his head, and he thought it was great fun. He nearly caught them, and this made them back off a bit.

lighth0se33
Post 3

I had been wondering if mockingbirds would copy other sounds besides just those of other birds, so I decided to test one out. I started whistling the same three notes over and over with a slight pause in between.

This made him stop singing. I could tell that he was listening to me and trying to learn the new song. He had never heard it before, and it intrigued him.

At first, he tried to copy me, but he was a little bit off. I whistled a few more times, and he suddenly got the hang of it. After that, I stayed quiet and let him mock away.

He seemed so happy that had learned a new song! It feels neat to know that I taught a bird a tune.

StarJo
Post 2

@Oceana – I would imagine that hearing the variety of songs a mockingbird can produce for the first time would be startling, especially at midnight! I didn't know that they sung that late until reading this article.

I live in Mississippi, and we have the official state bird of Texas as our own. Mockingbirds are everywhere down here, and I think that the majority of birds that I see and hear are mockingbirds.

Their seemingly endless songbook can get annoying after awhile. They go through it rather quickly, so it really does sound like they are mocking rather than borrowing the songs or singing them as tribute.

Oceana
Post 1

I bet the Texas state bird is what I heard out in my cousin's yard the other night. I'm here on a visit, and I could barely believe my ears when I heard a bird singing in the yard at midnight.

At home, the birds are silent through the night, except the owls. That's why I found it so strange to hear a bird song so late and in the darkness.

This bird didn't just stick to one tune. It seemed to know several, and that made the experience even weirder.

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