Why Are Mockingbirds Called Mockingbirds?

mockingbirds-called-mockingbirds Credit: J Labrador/Flickr/CC-BY-2.0

Mockingbirds get their name from their ability to mock or mimic the songs of other birds. The scientific name of the northern mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos, means "many-tongued mimic."

Mockingbirds can mimic up to 20 other bird species. They have also been known to mimic other sounds such as dogs barking, pigs squealing, wheels squeaking and car alarms. When singing another bird's song, the northern mockingbird usually repeats each phrase at least three times. The mockingbird's own mating song is sweet and gurgling. The northern mockingbird is the state bird of Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas and is found from the maritime provinces of Canada west to British Columbia and south into Mexico.