The New Student's Reference Work/Mockingbird
Mockingbird (mŏk′ing-bird), a singing bird of the thrush family closely related to the catbird. There are several species in South America, the West Indies and the United States. That of the southern United States is best known. It ranges across the country to California and south into Mexico. In the summer it is found in small numbers as far north as Massachusetts, but in the eastern states is not common north of Virginia. It is the most common bird of the south; of sociable disposition, dwelling in town and country garden close to man's dwelling. It is about the length of the robin, has a slender body, long legs and a noticeably long tail; is gray above, the wings and tail brownish tipped with white, in flight the white conspicuous. Incessantly it changes its position, hopping and darting about, up, down and sidewise, often singing as it flashes hither and yon. It is one of our finest songsters, its song a combination of twittering, warbling and chirping; during moonlight nights, while nesting, it sings all night. Its natural song contains many notes similar to those of other birds, though its powers as an imitator have been exaggerated. Besides imitating the sweet tones of the wood-thrush, it whistles, makes sounds like a creaking wheelbarrow, the barking of a dog, the squeak of a hurt chicken. It usually resides where seen and has no fixed migrations. The nest, often built close to the ground, is a loosely constructed affair of leaves, feathers, grass. The speckled green eggs number four or six. Many nestlings are captured and sold as cage-birds. It is said the bird is fast disappearing in portions of the south. See Blanchan's Bird Neighbors; Hornaday's American Natural History; and Chapman's Bird Life.