The nesting and behavior of Mockingbirds in northern lower Michigan

TitleThe nesting and behavior of Mockingbirds in northern lower Michigan
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1966
AuthorsAdkisson CS
JournalJack Pine Warbler

1. Two pairs of Mockingbirds were found in Northern Lower Michigan, and one nesting and parts of two more were observed. Earlier records of Mockingbirds in Michigan include the dates: 1910, 1927 (2), 1939, 1956 and 1958 (2). There are numerous sight records of the species from Lower Michigan. 2. The nesting environment was open country, as is usual for the species. One pair built two nests in unusually high, insecure places, probably due to the lack of proper nesting bushes. The other pair built in the usual thick shrubbery, less than 2 meters above the ground. 3. The local movements of both pairs were over a much greater area than is usual for the species, possibly as a result of no population pressure from members of the same species. The areas occupied were in excess of 45 acres, as compared with a reported 2.5 acres in Tennessee. 4. The males of both pairs included in their repertoire the songs of several species which are either rare in Michigan or do not breed there at all, such as the Chuck-will's-widow, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Carolina Wren, and Summer Tanager. The theories of the development of song imitation in Mockingbirds are discussed. 5. On one occasion, the female laid eggs between 7:25 a.m. and 7:45 a.m. The completed clutch was three eggs, not unusual for the species late in the season. The incubation period was 13 days, slightly longer than usual for Mockingbirds. The female alone incubated. 6. Only the female brooded the young, as is usual, and both parents fed. The female usually ate the fecal sacs and the male carried them away, but this role took a surprising reverse in the last three days of nestling life. Fledging occurred on the thirteenth day when neither parent was present. 7. The adults usually fed on the ground, although often by flying down from a perch. They also fed by "flycatching" from a high perch. Wing-flashing appeared to be used only in association with feeding. 8. The Mockingbirds in Northern Lower Michigan must migrate in view of the severity of winter, and in view of the known behavior of the local birds in this study.