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).
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.