Bird Database

Northern Mockingbird

(Mimus polyglottos)

State of the Birds
At a Glance







None identified

Conservation Actions

Maintain a bird-friendly yard

Northern Mockingbird

(Mimus polyglottos)

The Northern Mockingbird was one of the first species (along with titmice and cardinals) to capture the public’s attention as a southern species moving north into New Hampshire. Mockingbirds began moving up the east coast in the late 1800s, including scattered records in New England through the early decades of the 20th century, but they really didn’t become established until the 1950s. Until this time, they were believed to be limited by cold winters and perhaps limited habitat. But starting around 1960 things started to change more quickly, and mockingbirds became more reliable in extreme southeastern New Hampshire. From these tentative beginnings the species’ population in the state surged through the 1980s and the mockingbird was understood to be firmly established.

But then, after peaking around 1990, New Hampshire’s population fell just as quickly as it rose and now seems stable at low levels. Mockingbirds aren’t rare by any measure, and still occupy the same areas they did in the 1980s, but there are only a quarter as many as there used to be. Why mockingbird numbers dropped in parts of the Northeast is unknown, especially since the species is well-adapted to human environments. It’s likely that some combination of increased development, forest succession, and changing agricultural practices have eliminated some of the shrubby thickets that mockingbirds prefer.

No discussion of the Northern Mockingbird would be complete without mentioning its singing prowess. It’s scientific name literally means “many tongued mimic,” and this appellation is well deserved. In addition to mimicking the songs of other birds, they will copy sounds as diverse as barking dogs, car alarms, doorbells, and ringing cell phones, often flawlessly. A mockingbird in good form may cycle through a dozen or so copied bird songs over a few minutes, all interspersed with its own whistles and squeaks. They continue to add new elements to their repertoires as they age, and it’s believed that males with higher song diversity are more likely to attract mates. Mockingbirds also sing at night, both birds that do this are largely unmated males.

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Northern Mockingbird
Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count