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How to Identify Birds: The Mockingbird

The northern mockingbird is one of the most common songbirds in North America.


  • Step 1: Observe the bird's size and shape Consider the bird's appearance through binoculars and compare it with the pictures in your field guide. Northern mockingbirds have small heads; long, thin bills with slight downward curvature; and long legs.
  • Step 2: Observe the bird's color Consider the bird's color. Northern mockingbirds are gray-brown with two white wing bars on each wing. In flight the white wing bars show up as white flashes.
  • Step 3: Observe the bird's behavior Consider the bird's behavior. The northern mockingbird likes to perch atop high vegetation, fences, eaves, or telephone wires. On the ground, it runs or hops.
  • Step 4: Observe the bird's habitat Consider the habitat where the bird is observed. Northern mockingbirds are frequently found at low elevations in towns, suburbs, backyards, parks, forest edges, and open land.
  • TIP: The mockingbird is typically a year-round resident.
  • Step 5: Observe the bird's song Listen to the bird's song. The northern mockingbird's song consists of a variety of phrases, repeated two or more times, followed by a pause. The songs can last for 20 seconds or more.
  • FACT: When singing, mockingbirds frequently imitate other birds – and even frogs.

You Will Need

  • Binoculars
  • Field guide

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