Texas is located in the southern United States. It is the second largest state by both population and area. Texas gained statehood on December 29, 1845, becoming the 28th US state. Since then, Texas has officially designated several state symbols, including a state bird. The northern mockingbird is the official bird of Texas. The northern mockingbird is also the state bird of Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas.
Designating the Texas State Bird
It was designated the official status in 1927 by the Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 8, 40th Legislature. The lawmakers cited the resilience of the bird stating that it remained in the state during the extreme winters and summers, and is protective of its territory like any true Texan. The bird is so famous that Richard Milburn composed the song “Listen to the Mockingbird” in 1855.
The northern mockingbird is medium-sized with long legs and tail. Females and males have similar physical features. The upper part of the bird is grey while the underpart is whitish grey or purely white. Its bill is generally black but with a brownish appearance at the base. The mockingbird measures between 8 and 11 inches from head to tail with a wingspan of between 12 and 15 inches. Its average body mass ranges from 1.4 to 2.0 oz, but the males are slightly larger than the females. They can live to be 80 years in the wild and twenty years in captivity.
The bird can compose or mimic over 200 melodies from other birds. It is known to sing overnight especially during the bright springtime moonlight. Unmated birds sing more than the mated to attract potential mates. The melody of the mockingbird is a medley of sounds from other birds repeated several times. It imitates songs, calls, pianos, squeaky gates, barking dogs, sirens, and any other source of sound; then repeats each sound twice or thrice in quick succession to create a melody. The mockingbirds are fiercely territorial and protective. They swoop down on cats, dogs or other predators that venture too close to their nest or territory.
Distribution and Habitat
Large populations of the mockingbirds are found in the maritime provinces of Canada. They are also found in the northwestern states and south of the northern plains. The birds also inhabit much of Mexico from eastern Oaxaca to Veracruz. Most of the birds spend much of the life span within their breeding range, but the northern population has been observed to move south during the winter. Sightings have been recorded in Hawaii, southern Alaska, and Britain. They are not limited to specific habitat but prefer open areas with sparse vegetation. They can also be seen in urban and suburban areas, gardens, and parks. The birds avoid densely forested areas and spend the entire year in the same habitat.