What makes the Northern Mockingbird (Mimus Polyglottos) an urban "winner"?

A Ph.D. research project by Christine Stracey

Mockingbird Video Clips
2008 - 2009
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More Videos Coming Soon!

Female Incubation/Feeding Videos
RH27 - nest at Santa Fe Beef Research Unit, both parents are unbanded
RH19 - nest at Santa Fe Beef Research Unit, both parents are unbanded
CS134 - nest at Duckpond, male is banded and female is unbanded
CS121 - nest at Duckpond, strange vocalizations between male and female (both banded)
 
Predation Videos  - WARNING!!!  These are videos of eggs and nestlings being eaten by predators - do not watch if this will upset you!
CS121 - egg predation at Duckpond
SD70 - egg predation at Santa Fe, there are two parts to this video so make sure you watch until the end
SD122 - egg predation at Ordway Biological Station
RH18 - nestling predation at Santa Fe
SD80 - nestling predation at Ordway Biological Station
SD82 - nestling predation at Ordway Biological Station
CS78 - nestling preadtion at Capri neighborhood
CS118 - nestling predation at Duckpond neighborhood
CS23 - nestling predation at Capri neighborhood
 
 
 

Who dunnit?


 
graph of predators


We were able to document a number of interesting patterns from our videos.  

 

1) Not surprisingly, the non-urban predator community is more diverse than the urban predator community.  


2) Urban predation events were clearly dominated by house cats.  Some of these cats had collars and we can therefore conclude that they are people's pets.  Did you know that your cat is eating eggs and nestling birds?  All but one of our cat predation events occurred at night.  Please, at the very least, keep your cats indoors at night.  While mockingbird populations are successful despite these levels of cat predation, there are numerous other species (e.g., towhees)
that are struggling to survive in urban areas.

3) Non-urban predation events are dominated by snakes and Cooper's Hawks.  While we never recorded Cooper's Hawks taking urban nests, we have documented them at every one of our urban study sites...so, what's up with the urban hawks?  Cooper's Hawks are adult bird predators and we think that in town they are eating large urban doves that in non-urban areas are either rare (Eurasian Collared Doves) or not concentrated around bird feeders (Mourning Doves).  Thus, the urban Cooper's Hawks appear to have undergone a dietary shift.

4) Despite the high abundance of crows and grackles in urban areas, they were not particularly common nest predators.  Perhaps they too have undergone a dietary shift and prefer french fries to mockingbird eggs and nestlings.

 

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0709646.

Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recomendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).