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What is the State Bird of Florida? (And Why?)

Florida is the third most populous state and the 22nd largest by land area in the US. It's mainly known for its magnificent beaches, the state animal for Florida is the Florida Panther, but what is the state bird?

The state of Florida chose the Northern mockingbird (Mimus Polyglottos) as the state bird. Florida made it its state bird on April 23, 1927. There’s a lot of love in the US for this long-legged, medium-sized bird with its long tail. This bird tends to settle in southern states during winter, but sometimes simply settles down in a state as it did in Florida.

The state bird of Florida, the Northern Mockingbird

The state bird of Florida, the Northern Mockingbird

Why is the Northern mockingbird the state bird for Florida?

Florida chose the little bird who sings for the public. The little bird does great service to the state’s residents since it dines on insects that would otherwise harass the residents. Every bug it eats, as MSN pointed out, is one that doesn’t make it to your patio. The Florida official avian serves the state in multiple ways.

When did the Northern mockingbird become the state bird for Florida?

The legislature adopted the resolution naming the bird Florida’s official state bird on April 23, 1927. Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 3 declared the bird the official state avian.

What does the state bird of Florida look like?

Females of the Northern mockingbird are smaller than the males of its species. Both genders resemble each other, otherwise with a grey chest and upper area and contrasting but complementary light gray or white color on their stomach areas. The bills of these birds feature brown at the base and black all over.

Although long and with a wide wingspan, these birds weigh little. They typically grow to between 1.4 ounces and 2.0 ounces. The Northern mockingbird measures eight to 11 inches from its head to tail with a wingspan of 12 to 15 inches.

Because living in captivity shortens their lifespan remarkably, the US made it illegal to keep a mockingbird as a pet. Living in the wild, a mockingbird can live 80 years, but in captivity, they can only live one-quarter of that time. Title 16 of the US Code, sections 703 and 707a, make it a crime to “pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture or kill, possess… at any time, or in any manner, any migratory bird… or any part, nest, or egg of any such bird.”

Close up of a perched Northern Mockingbird

Close up of a perched Northern Mockingbird

How do these birds behave?

People misunderstand the mockingbird’s songs. Typically, when surveyed, people think that the bird only copies others’ songs, but in reality, only ten percent of their repertoire. While a mockingbird can mimic the songs of other birds, the intelligent bird also composes original music. Since the average mockingbird performs more than 200 melodies, which means about 20 of its setlist come from other birds, but the other 180, the bird wrote, so to speak. These studious avians also understand other animals, including dogs, and human music, including musical instruments such as the piano. The bird can also make urban noises like sirens and gates. The mockingbird decides whether to make up a song based on the sound by repeating the sound a few times. If, after imitating it, the sound resounds with the bird, they’ll write an original melody based upon it.

Unlike many birds who sing in the early morning, the mockingbird keeps company with night owls. The mockingbird sings during the night. During springtime, the birds favor putting on concerts in the moonlight.

You won’t hear the same mix from a mockingbird either. These birds string together a different playlist each day. This medley might include only part or all of its repertoire. You could mistake the mockingbird’s song for another bird if you can’t see it performing. Since each bird composes its own songs, every bird’s medley differs.

Mockingbirds date. They meet potential mates by singing. They date a few different birds until they meet the right one, then the birds choose a partner. You could think of it as marriage, because this animal remains mated for life and monogamous. Together, they build a nest of twigs, grass, sticks, and leaves. Once they’ve built their home, the birds breed. They raise their baby birds to follow the same patterns.

Northern Mockingbirds sing during the night

Northern Mockingbirds sing during the night

Do Northern mockingbirds form communities?

Mockingbirds consider their nest their territory and they’re hugely territorial. They protect their nests by swooping down to attack or at least chase off any predator. These birds view humans and their pets as predators. Mockingbirds will attack animals much larger than themselves, including dogs and cats. As long as you keep away from their nest, you won’t have problems. Just enjoy their songs from afar. A mockingbird remembers both the humans and the animals it sees. Don’t anger one or you’ll make an enemy for life.

While some of these birds reside in Florida full time, others frequent Mexico or Canada. Mockingbirds typically favor a beach or ocean setting, but in Florida, you can also find them happily living in a landlocked environment. These birds also live in Great Britain, another natural habitat for them. Look for them in open areas in the city or in rural environments. You won’t find them in the forest. The preference of the Northern mockingbird is to live the entire year in the same habitat, so if the area remains warm, they won’t fly further south.

What do northern mockingbirds eat?

Florida’s northern mockingbirds like beetles, ants, wasps, and grasshoppers. Although this bird lives in many states, its diet varies by location and season. These birds also eat berries and love loose suet if you want to draw it into your yard. Florida’s mockingbirds dislike hanging suet, but they dig into the loose suet.

Northern Mockingbird on a suet bird feeder

Northern Mockingbird on a suet bird feeder

Florida State Bird Controversy

While you probably wouldn’t expect controversy over your existing state bird, in Florida, lawmakers filed three different bills in October 2021 to change the state bird. The legislator wants schoolchildren to vote on the matter and choose. Some legislators want a bird native to Florida, while others want a bird that’s flashy.

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