The Legislature’s resolution designating the northern mockingbird as Texas’ official state bird states the case in detail. “It is found in all parts of the state, in winter and in summer, in the city and the country, on the prairie and in the woods and hills and is a singer of distinctive type,” it reads, adding a bit of Lone Star chauvinism: “a fighter for protection of his home, falling, if need be, in its defense, like any true Texan.”
Not unique to Texas, the northern mockingbird is an official bird of four others states besides ours. Texas was the first when Gov. Dan Moody signed the resolution in 1927. In 1956, the Texas Ornithological Society selected the more striking scissor-tail flycatcher as its official bird.
In the 1927 Legislature’s reasoning, northern mockingbirds are full-time residents statewide instead of using Texas as a migratory waystation. They aggressively ward off predators like cats, snakes, raccoons, and other birds from their young. Mockingbirds diving after squirrels like wartime fighter pilots is a familiar sight in Texas backyards. Their repertoire of incantations includes numerous chirps, tweets, whistles, and trills, combining mimicry with original notes.
Learn • Go • Do
Find sections on Texas mockingbirds online at Texas Breeding Bird Atlas, which includes a map of mockingbird sightings, or Texas Parks and Wildlife’s online bird factsheet.
Visit bird blinds at South Llano River State Park, where more than 250 species of birds have been recorded.
Other venues like Enchanted Rock State Natural Area near Fredericksburg and Friedrich Wilderness Park in San Antonio attracted mockingbirds.
Better yet, watch and listen to a mockingbird sing, thanks to a YouTube clip from Texas Parks and Wildlife.