Family Mimidae: Mockingbirds & Thrashers
Types of Birds
Mockingbirds, thrashers and catbirds form a small family of songbirds (Mimidae), known for their ability to mimic other bird calls.
Of the one dozen North American species, seven belong to the thrasher genus, Toxostoma. Physically they share similar features, being medium sized birds with muted feather colors and decurved bills.
All thrashers also forage on the ground searching for local insect populations.
With the exception of the Brown thrasher, a common eastern species, the other thrasher species live in very limited Western ranges in the West.
The Curve-billed thrasher in the top picture, resides in the desert Southwest, down through south Texas. Long-billed Thrashers (Toxostoma longirostre), picture two, lives in the under brush of South Texas.
California thrashers do not venture far from California state boundaries.
The remaining few thrasher species are found in limited areas of the Southwest and Rocky Mountain states.
The gray catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) easily distinguished from other Mimidae by its gray feathers and black cap, inhabit most areas east of the Rocky Mountains. Over time, their range continues to expand.
The Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos), the most wide-ranging and recognized Mimidae species, resides year round in most of its territory.
Anyone whose yard serves as a host to Mockingbirds knows about their propensity to sing, sometimes all day and night. The brief video presentation highlights one mockingbird song.
Even more amazing, mockingbirds sing in foreign languages. Experts estimate that mockingbirds possess the ability to mimic dozens of bird species as well as the sounds of bells, whistles, frogs and other sound producing objects within their range of hearing.
They are territorial birds, often engaged in fights with other bird species that enter their territory. Many are also year round residents of their territory. The northern most population tends to migrate to souther regions during the winter.
Despite some of the fuss associated with them, Mockingbirds are very popular birds, who enjoy posing for pictures.
Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas, designate it their state bird.
© 2011-2012. Patricia A. Michaels