Mockingbird at Crane Lake!

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

Last week I was lucky to find a Northern Mockingbird at Crane Lake!
Wow, what a great find! I first saw the bird on Saturday the 16th; it was an extremely windy day with winds gusting up to 35mph out of the northwest.  I just got a glimpse of a big gray bird flying and I could see big flashes of white on his wings as he flew. I knew right away that this was something very special and I jumped out of my car and ran for my bins which just happened to be in the back of the car. I got another look at him to confirm my suspicions.
I couldn’t hardly believe my eyes when I saw him and I really wanted to get a photo, so I thought I better get out there again and make sure I was really seeing what I was seeing. So Sunday morning I got up at 6 a.m. and headed over to Handberg’s. The winds had calmed and it was a very quiet Sunday morning. Sure enough there he was, again in the same spot, in front of the sign warming himself in the early morning sun.   
Mockingbird in flight

Mockingbird in flight

This photo shows his white wing patches quite well. You can also see the white wing bars. His white tail feathers are also a good field mark. The two outer tail feathers are long and white and when the bird flies up, those tail feathers stick out like a sore thumb!

A Northern Mockingbird in Minnesota is considered a “rare” regular. According to the MOU (Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union), a Regular species are those for which there are Accepted records in ten or nine years out of the past ten years. Northern Mockingbirds seem like they have been showing up in Minnesota the last few years in greater numbers than ever before. This year there have been reports from Marshall County, Nicollet County, Duluth, 2 birds on the North Shore, and 3 separate birds from Minneapolis. Last summer a Mockingbird spent a lot of time on an entrance sign to the Minneapolis airport – and he’s back again this year. There are five recorded breeding records in Minnesota for the Mockingbird.

Now I know folks that spend time in the southern U.S. are probably very familiar with this bird. Mockingbirds can even get a little obnoxious with their continual singing – sometimes they will sing all night long! They’ll imitate other birds and even things like car alarms and sirens. They sing their song in short phrases and the phrases are usually repeated 3 times. Their close relative, the Brown Thrasher, also sings in phrases, but they only repeat the phrase 2 times.

The Crane Lake bird wasn’t singing too much, I think maybe he was a little cold? I don’t know, but this video shows him off nicely. I think he had just eaten something, his crop appears to be full. Laster in the afternoon, I saw him catch and croak down a really big bug!


He stuck around for a little while, the last time I saw him was on Thursday, the 21st at the public boat landing. I think he’s gone now, probably looking for some company, although I’m still keeping my eye out – wouldn’t it be great to get one of those rare breeding records?

In looking around Youtube for some other video, I came across this hilarious video of a Mockingbird imitating a cat – he does a pretty good job.

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1 Response to Mockingbird at Crane Lake!

  1. FishStikks says:

    Having mockingbirds in my yard all the time and only having recently discovering that they were indeed mockingbirds I can certainly understand your excitement! I didn’y even know we had mockingbirds here in my part of the country.

    That youtube video is very cute. I’ve had nesting mockingbirds actually attacking both me and my cat, going on 3 years now, hehe. Cheeky little buggars.

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