South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Northern Mockingbird

Mimus polyglottos

Length: 10.5 inches Wingspan: 15 inches Seasonality: Summer / Migrant
ID Keys: Gray overall, white wing patches, long tail, short dark bill.

Northern Mockingbird - Mimus polyglottosOne of the ultimate imitators, the Northern Mockingbird is able to imitate not only the songs of many species of birds, but may sometimes repeat other sounds from the meow of a cat to the tinkle of wind chimes.  The Northern Mockingbird is a bold defender of its nest site, attempting to chase away anything (including people) that come too close for its comfort.  South Dakota is at the northern edge of its range, although it has been expanding its range to the north in recent decades.  They are increasingly rare as one moves northward from the Nebraska/South Dakota border.

Habitat: Prefers mixed habitats with open ground and dense thickets and shrubs, including fencerows, riparian areas, residential areas, and roadsides. 

Diet: Mostly insects and fruit.  Will also occasionally eat earthworms, snails, and small amphibians and lizards.

Behavior: Does much of its foraging by walking on the ground.  Will also observe from a perch and fly out to capture insects spotted on the ground or in vegetation below.

Nesting: June and July

Breeding Map: Breeding bird survey map

Song: Northern Mockingbird Song, also Northern Mockingbird Call

Migration: Generally a permanent resident throughout its range, with some northern birds moving south in the fall.

Bird Feeders: Will attend feeders for fruit, suet, and bread.

Similar Species: Townsend's Solitaire, Gray Catbird

Conservation Status: Northern Mockingbirds were once captured for the pet trade, and wild populations sharply declined.  They are now expanding their range to the north and are increasing in numbers.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Northern Mockingbird

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Northern Mockingbird"

3) Northern Mockingbird

Photo Information: February 1st, 2002 -- Las Vegas, Nevada -- Terry L. Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Northern Mockingbird photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Northern Mockingbird - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare migrant and summer resident.