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Friday, April 16, 2010

Feeder Friday; Mockingbird Problems

Northern Mockingbirds defend a nesting territory from other mockingbirds and sometimes other bird species.

They mimic the sounds of other birds and their song is a continual stream of other birds' sounds, each sound usually repeated 3 or more times.

Several people just wrote to us about mockingbird problems. One person has mockingbirds chasing off bluebirds from mealworms. The other person has mockingbirds chasing off smaller birds from the bird feeders. Here is some information and some answers to these problems

Mockingbirds sing to defend a rather small nesting territory, of about one to two acres, in spring. Both male and female Mockingbirds will defend their nesting territory. The male sings during the day and sometimes even at night, and when he gets a mate he generally quiets down and sings a lot less. Mockingirds will incorporate into their song imitations of other bird’s songs. Many people enjoy the song of Mockingbirds. If they are singing at night and it is bothersome, some people try foam rubber earplugs from the drugstore, they work well, or a white noise machine, etc.

Mockingbirds are native birds and are protected by law so it is illegal to harm them or harm their nests while they are constructing them or have eggs or young in the nest. They incubate their eggs for 12-13 days and the babies are in the nest for 10-13 days then fledge and leave the nest and do not return to the nest. They will be fed for a little while longer by the parents before they become independent.

If a feeder is in the area of their territory they may drive other birds off the feeder. Generally Mockingbirds do not eat seed but will eat fruit, mealworms, raisins, insects. If you have a feeder in their territory and they are disturbing the other feeder birds here are some strategies,

- You may have to move the feeders until they are not in the Mockingbirds territory (experiment and keep moving them away until you pass that magic point that is their territory line). If you have a small property the Mockingbirds territory may encompass too much of it for this strategy to work so...

- You may have to have several feeders spread around widely over your property on the theory the Mockingbird can only be chasing at one feeder at a time, leaving the other feeder open for the birds.

- You may have to try feeders that it is difficult for the mockingbird to land on or eat from such as ones with a cage, or ones that birds have to hover in front of before they enter, etc.

- You might also try suet feeders that are encased in a larger cage so chickadees can enter but the cage would prevent the larger birds from entering, or suet feeders that birds have to cling to from underneath.

If you have found any other solutions we'd like to hear from you.


Lillian Stokes said...

One of our readers suggested this:
This morning I've found that having 2
mealworm feeding locations has helped a lot. One bowl is placed on top of
the bluebird Gillwood box. The other bowl is on the usual bluebird feeding
table. Between the 2 locations the bluebirds(AND the mockingbirds!) have
been able to eat pretty well- But it takes a constant refilling of the
bowls. (they all come at different times).

MaineBirder said...

I don't get many Mockingbirds visiting my feeders, but the Gray Catbirds sure do cause a ruckus! The Catbirds love to hoard the grape jelly and suet feeders. I now have several feeding stations with all of the goodies so all can enjoy.

Excellents photos and post!

Anonymous said...

Somehow we've attracted the attentions of a beautiful big Crow; thus far, the Crow visits us 6 to 10 times a day to see what else I might have put out for him. The bonus part of this? He has kept the Mockingbirds from nesting in our Wisteria Vine! They nested twice in our vine last season, the Mommy is very mean about the vine lines the patio where we sit! Then we had to stress out about the babies jumping the nest too. It was cute the first time, not so much the 2nd time. So, our answer has been to cater to the Crow, lol...and they have moved to the front yard for nesting, but still occasionally bully the other small birds in the back...until the Crow arrives.