Did you know that all 50 states have an official state bird? Over the years state legislatures selected these birds because they were special in some way to the state.
The first states chose their birds in 1927, the Arkansas State legislature selected the Arkansas State bird in 1929, and the most recent state to choose an official state bird was Arizona in 1973.
All About the Arkansas State Bird
Here is a bit of information about the state bird of Arkansas. If you want to learn more check out this information on the Audubon Society website!
What is the Arkansas State Bird?
The Arkansas state bird is the northern mockingbird!
There are actually 4 more states, all in the south, who have the mockingbird as their official state bird. These are Tennessee, Texas, Mississippi, and Florida.
Here is a list of the other state symbols of Arkansas.
Why did Arkansas Choose the Mockingbird as their State Bird?
Arkansas choose the mockingbird as its state bird for several reasons.
First, it is a common and well-loved bird whose song can be heard throughout the state of Arkansas.
It was also chosen due to its helpfulness to farmers. The bird has a habit of eating bugs and weed seeds in the spring and then switching to berries in the fall and winter. This helps to keep pests off the plants early in the year and then helps to spread seed.
The mockingbird is known for its intelligence and tends to be considered a symbol of resilience, endurance, and, as in the book, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a symbol of innocence.
It didn’t hurt that an influential women’s organization, the Arkansas Federation of Women’s Clubs (AFWC), campaigned for the mockingbird to be named the state bird.
What does the Mockingbird look like?
I think that the mockingbird can best be described as handsome. It is a sleek bird, but it is not flashy and not brightly colored. Perhaps all of the “flash” in these birds is in their songs.
The mockingbird has a grayish-white chest, with darker gray wings, back, and tail feathers. The wings have white patches that are visible in flight. It has a long tail and long legs.
This is a medium-sized bird that measures around 8 to 11 inches long. The male and female look similar to one another with the male being slightly larger.
Its beak is long and is a gray-black in color.
Why is the song of the Mockingbird so Famous
Many people think that the mockingbird only mimics sounds that they hear. But, in fact, only about 10% of their vocalizations are sounds that they have copied.
The average mocking bird sings over 200 different melodies most of which are original compositions. They do tend to pick up new sounds over the years, mostly from other birds, but also from humans, other animals, and even machinery. They will then incorporate these new sounds into their songs.
Mockingbirds even meet their mate by singing. Unlike most songbirds, they sometimes sing well into the evening. If you have ever been kept awake in the spring by a bird singing well into the night…it is likely that it was a lonely male mockingbird trying to attract a partner.
There was a time, in the 19th century, when the song of the mockingbird was so popular that people would trap them and keep them in cages to be able to enjoy hearing their music at home.
It is said that a captured mockingbird could cost as much as $50 which was an exorbitant amount back then. So many were trapped that the birds nearly vanished from parts of the East Coast.
It is now illegal in the US to keep a mockingbird as a pet.
More Facts about the State Bird of Arkansas
- The mockingbird’s latin name is Mimus polyglottos, which literally translates to “many-tongued mimic.”
- Northern mockingbirds imitate at least 12 different species of frogs and toads.
- Northern mockingbirds live a long life, 8-10 years and often even longer.
- The mockingbird has been featured in literature, music, and film. This includes Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” and the song “Mockingbird” by Carly Simon and James Taylor. It is also the inspiration for the fictional Mockingjay of the “Hunger Games” books and films.
- Mockingbirds can be extremely protective and territorial. They will swoop and dive at pretty much anything, including people, that gets too close to their nests.
- Both male and female mockingbirds sing. However, the males sing more loudly and more often and the females don’t sing at night.
- Even though there are 16 mockingbird species in the world only the northern mockingbird lives in North America.
- Mockingbirds are monogamous and generally select only one partner to mate with for life.
- The males change their songs with the seasons, singing different tunes in the spring than in the fall.
- The male mockingbirds actively participate in finding a spot for a nest, building a nest, and feeding the babies once they hatch. But only the females incubate the eggs.
- They lay 2-6 eggs at a time. The eggs are greenish to bluish gray with some splotches of brown.
I hope that you have enjoyed learning more about the Arkansas State Bird.
Other Animals in Arkansas
If you want to read about some of the other animals that we have living here in Arkansas you might want to check out the following posts:
- Razorback Hogs
- Alligators in Arkansas
- Bears in Arkansas
- Trumpeter Swans in Arkansas
- Arkansas Insects
- Resurgence of Elk
Thanks for stopping by!