To Raise A Mockingbird – Chronicles of a Mockingbird’s Nest Building

The process of a bird’s development into adulthood is a fascinating story. But one story which often gets overlooked is just how parents build the nests that hold their eggs. You have probably seen nests of many different birds, with or without eggs in them. But have you ever had the chance to observe parent birds working towards building the nest?

This spring, I observed two mockingbirds in different locations around my neighborhood as they collected the materials necessary to build their nest. At first, it was not apparent what they were doing, but the repeated activity eventually revealed that they were building a nest.

Male Northern Mockingbird (Fremont, CA) – February 2021

This was the first time I spotted one of these mockingbirds. The male was on top of my neighbor’s chimney, and carrying a twig. I did not think too much of it at the moment, but what I noticed was that this same bird seemed to be repeating the action over some time, and repeatedly carrying the twigs to a different location.

Female Northern Mockingbird (Fremont, CA) – February 2021

The next day, I spotted another mockingbird in the same location. It appeared to be a female, as it was slightly smaller. I again saw the male carrying juniper twigs, but the female almost appeared to be guarding the location at the chimney while the male collected material.

I was hoping to find the place where the mockingbirds had started to build their nest. It was dark by that time, so I did not expect that I would have that much luck, but the next day, I followed the female mockingbird out, and struck gold.

Female Northern Mockingbird alongside nest (Fremont, CA) – February 2021

Through the branches of the tree, I spotted the female mockingbird alongside the pile of twigs, now turned into a full nest. Although unable to get any closer, this made me want to learn more about the ways in which mockingbirds build their nests. I found some fascinating information about how mockingbirds cooperate as they build their nests, which helps to explain the behavior I observed.

Males typically build nests at many different locations before the female decides on one. It seemed strange that they would feel the need to put in this extra effort – after all, each new nest means more time and resources. However, after looking a little further, I learned that there are a few specific reasons for this. Apart from the obvious reasons of looking to optimize food sources and reduce predators, it is also a subconscious way of expanding their breeding territory, sending a message to other mockingbirds.

Like many other large songbirds, mockingbirds build their nests out of twigs, leaves and other such materials, nesting in lower trees. This explains both the twigs that the male was collecting, and why the nest was so low in the tree. Since the female was not actually in the nest in the photos I got, it is likely that, rather than incubating her own eggs, she was observing the nest as one of several different options.

This concludes my take on the story of how birds bring life into this world. In the same way that we observe how birds collect food to feed themselves and their young, it is fascinating to observe how they collect material to construct homes for themselves and their young, and how different species adapt these methods. Keep an eye out for pairs of mockingbirds working together to build their own nests, and comment any observations in their behavior that you notice!

Post Sources:

  1. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Mockingbird/overview
  2. https://www.wild-bird-watching.com/Mockingbird.html
  3. https://www.amnh.org/learn-teach/curriculum-collections/young-naturalist-awards/winning-essays/2006/an-analysis-of-mockingbird-nesting-behavior-in-residential-areas

Published by kabirsamsi

High School Senior in Fremont, CA. I enjoy music, programming and ornithology. My other hobbies include biking and watching soccer and cricket. Check out my birding blog, KBirdVentures! (link below) to see my photos and read up on different news in the avian world.

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