Northern Mockingbird

One of the most common birds that you’ll find on our campus is the Mockingbird:

800px-mockingbird_northern_sunsetbeach

(Original Image licensed Creative Commons Attribution)

 

What they look like: The Northern mockingbird is a peculiar bird. They sort of look like a thrush or sparrow. They have a gray or brown body with dark brown feathers coating the wings. Their tail is a long, boxy shape also with dark brown feathers. The mockingbird also has very strange bright yellow eyes. The eggs are light blue with light brown spots all over. These eggs are about the same size as a chicken egg.

Where you’ll see him: These little birds are actually most common in North Carolina, so you will see a lot of them around here! They live all over the eastern side of the United States, ranging from Massachusetts to Florida. These mockingbirds tend to live all around our school, but they are most seen in the outdoor classroom in the middle of the bus loop. They mostly live in small trees or bushes.  We actually see them standing on the edges of the roof all of the time.

What they eat: These birds are omnivores, so they eat small insects, berries, seeds & some sap from pruned trees. 

What he sounds like: This bird has many sounds, all copies of other birds or animals he hears. This is where he gets the name “mockingbird”. He may imitate other birds like crows or sparrows, but he also imitates squeaky gates, barking dogs, human whistling and many other sounds. When they copy animal and bird sounds, it’s meant to say to the other bird that the land is already occupied. You can listen to a few of their calls here.

 

Where You can Learn More About Them:

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Mockingbird/id/ac

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Mockingbird

 

          Ryan M.

Rufous Sided Towhee

One of the most interesting birds on the Salem Middle School campus is the Rufous Sided Towhee:

Towhee

(Original Image Licensed Creative Commons Attribution)

 

What he looks like:  A robin.  In fact, when we first saw him, we thought he WAS a robin!  That’s a common mistake because his sides and wings are a brownish-red.  If you look closely, though, you’ll notice that he has a black head and a white belly.  You’ll also notice that he has a long, retangular tail.  Those are the best ways to identify him — and to tell him apart from a robin. 

Where you’ll see him:  Near the ground.  The Towhee digs and scratches under leaves and bark looking for food.  It also builds its nests either on — or very close to — the ground.  Here at Salem, we’ve seen him under the bushes near the outdoor classroom and under the bushes along the fence near the bus loop. 

What he sounds like: People say that his call — which you can listen to here — sounds a lot like the phrase “Drink your tea.”  In fact, the “tea” sound at the end of his call is where he got his last name from.  Now, you’ve got to do some imagining to hear “Drink your tea” in his call.  The first hard sound is the “Drink.”  The last drawn out sound in his call — “te-ee-ee-ee” — is the “tea.”

Where you can learn more about him:  We found this article on the Wikipedia website to be helpful.