Florida is a US state located in the southeastern part of the country. It is the southernmost state in the contiguous United States and is bordered by the states of Georgia and Alabama to the north and northwest, respectively, the Gulf of Mexico to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Straits of Florida to the south. Florida is nicknamed "The Sunshine State," and features many official state symbols, such as a state flower (orange blossom), animal (Florida panther), fish (Atlantic sailfish), and reptile (American alligator). The state also has an official bird: the northern mockingbird.
Official State Bird
The northern mockingbird is the official bird of Florida. The bird was given official status by the Florida Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 3 on April 23, 1927, as lawmakers cited the mockingbird's ability to delight the hearts of visitors and residents due to its vocal skills. The bird is well known throughout the US and has been featured in popular books and songs, as well as in television and film. Additionally, the northern mockingbird is also the state bird of Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, and Arkansas.
The northern mockingbird can mimic more than 200 melodies from other birds and is known to sing overnight, especially during the bright springtime moonlight. Unmated birds sing more than mated individuals in order to attract potential mates. The melody of the mockingbird is a medley of sounds from other birds repeated multiple times. The northern mockingbird imitates songs, calls, pianos, squeaky gates, barking dogs, sirens, or other sources of sound, and then repeats each sound two or three times in quick succession to create a melody. Northern mockingbirds are fiercely territorial and are known to swoop down on cats, dogs or other potential predators that venture too close to their nest or territory.
The northern mockingbird is a medium-sized bird, with long legs and tail. Females and males have similar physical features. The upper part of the bird is grey in color, while the under part is white or whitish-grey. Its bill is generally black, with a brownish appearance at the base. The mockingbird measures between 8 and 11 inches from head to tail, and has a wingspan of between 12 and 15 inches. It has an average body mass that ranges between 1.4 and 2.0 oz, and males are slightly larger than females. The northern mockingbird can live up to 80 years in the wild and 20 years in captivity.
Distribution and Habitat
Large populations of the northern mockingbird exist in the northwestern US states and those south of the northern plains. Outside of the US, the bird can be found in the maritime provinces of Canada, as well as inhabiting much of Mexico, from eastern Oaxaca to Veracruz. The bird spends much of its life span within its breeding range, although the northern populations have been observed to move south during the winter. Sightings have even been recorded in Hawaii, southern Alaska, and Britain. The species is not limited to specific habitats but prefers open areas with sparse vegetation. The northern mockingbird can be spotted in urban and suburban areas, gardens, and parks, but avoids densely forested areas.