Southern Mockingbird, Mimus Polyglottos
Our Florida State Bird is the Southern Mockingbird, Mimus Polyglottos. The Florida mockingbird is beautiful, feisty, loud and persistent. The state bird of Florida just happens to be one of my favorite birds.
Several other states, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas have also adopted Mockingbirds as their official state birds.
The Florida State bird is a lovely gray songbird that can be found throughout much of North America. Mockingbirds are a medium sized bird, 9 to 11 inches, with a slender body and a rather long tail. White wing bars can be seen during flight. Both males and females have a similar appearance while the young can be distinguished by their spotted chest.
The Florida mockingbird enjoys a wide variety of habitats and can be found in open farm fields or is equally at home in the suburbs.
Mockingbirds can sing for hours offering many different songs and patterns. I’ve been awakened in the early morning hours on several occasions as one of these delightful birds found the perfect perch right outside my window to sing his songs.
The Mockingbird is able to mimic many other birds as it’s scientific name implies. Mimus Polyglottos – mimic of many tongues.
These birds are very protective of their nests and young. Don’t get too close or you may find an angry bird swooping down to discourage you from coming too close. Not a pleasant experience!
There is a bit of controversy surrounding our Florida mockingbird. The Legislature has been petitioned to replace the Mockingbird and make the Florida Scrub Jay the official state bird of Florida. Or could it be the Osprey?
The Florida Scrub Jay is on the Audubon Society’s Blue list which means the species is facing a serious decline in population. Many feel the added attention as the Florida State Bird would help draw attention to the plight of the Scrub Jay and the possibility of its extinction due to loss of habitat.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Florida Department ofEducation recently conducted a vote among fourth through eight graders to choose the new official state bird of Florida. The winning bird was the Osprey. The FWC prepared a bill to include in its 2009 legislative package, however, more pressing issues took precedence so the bill stalled.
So for now, the Florida State Bird remains the Southern Mockingbird.
I hope you’ll have a chance to hear a Southern Mockingbird singing his vast repertoire while you are visiting St. Augustine. Maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of the glistening gray feathers of a Florida Mockingbird, currently the official state bird of Florida.