[CT Birds] Westport - Mockingbird???

Greg Hanisek ghanisek at rep-am.com
Fri Mar 23 16:07:48 EDT 2012

I think many birders would agree with Bill Yule's puzzled response. Northern 
Mockingbirds definitely occur year-round in Connecticut, so trying to zero 
in on arrival dates is probably somewhat misleading. Noting when they start 
singing might be a more useful gauge of their seasonal activity.

That said, I find the movements of mockingbirds among the most difficult to 
assess of all our local species. They nest in my neighborhood, but sparsely 
and inconsistently from year to year, with unpredictable (at least for me) 
periods of disappearance. There are several things at play here:

1/ Mockingbirds historically occupied a more southerly range than they do 
now, so birds north of say sourthern New Jersey have a history of occupancy 
of their current range that is short compared to most other breeding 
species. Any seasonal movements they undertake are probably in the formative 

2/ Mockingbirds are known to occupy winter, as well as breeding, 
territories. They set up shop in winter around good food supplies, such as 
multiflora rose tangles with their nice little rose hips. So if your 
neighborhood mocker disappears in winter, it may very well be somewhere else 
not too far away with better food. Then it will make a spring appearance if 
it "likes" your breeding habitat.

3/ Mockingbirds do migrate to some degree, at least the most northerly ones 
do. I'm a regular at the Lighthouse Point hawk watch and have seen 
mockingbirds moving through there with a very convincing migratory profile - 
high, direct and westward (the way most southbound coastal migrants move in 
CT in fall because of our east-west coastline). But we don't see many. Where 
are those birds from? Where are they going? How far? Do any that nest in CT 
migrate? Are any of our wintering birds from farther north? I'd love to 
know. The first sentence of the migration section for this species in Birds 
of North America Online is a succinct: "Not well understood." However, it 
also notes that banding has documented movements up to c 500 miles.

Put that all together and you have a common bird about which we could know a 
lot more than we do.

Greg Hanisek

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Grimm, Chris" <chris.grimm at globepequot.com>
To: <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
Sent: Friday, March 23, 2012 11:43 AM
Subject: [CT Birds] Westport - Mockingbird???

>I associate Mockingbirds with late-Spring and Summer.  While I haven't
> seen it, I have heard it the last three nights.  Westport, near the
> corner of Post Road and South Maple Avenue.
> Anyone else seen/heard them yet?  Or has nobody posted about them
> because everyone is seeing and hearing them?
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