Saturday, January 8, 2011

Tropical Mockingbird, Northern Mockingbird & Tailless Mockingbirds

A Tropical Mockingbird, Cancun, Mx; 12/19/10.
Another very common bird in the Cancun area is the Tropical Mockingbird, which is very similar to the Northern Mockingbird. Their appearances and songs are so similar it is hard to determine differences except for geographic locations. The Tropical Mockingbird ranges from Southern Mexico into Central America and the Northern parts of South America and into Brazil.

A Tropical Mockingbird, Puerto Morelos, Mx; 12/24/10.
The Northern Mockingbird which is found spread throughout the southern states up along the Appalachians and the eastern sea board will go as far south as southern Parts of Mexico, but is rarely found in the east Mexico of which the Yucatan Peninsula is part. I was assured by Luis Ku, a local bird expert that the Mockingbirds seen around the Cancun area are Tropical. While we were waiting for our boat to Isla Contoy, I started stalking a bird in the nearby trees. When I finally obtained a clear view of the bird, I thought I had found a new species of Mockingbird. When I took a picture of this guy, and looked at the photo in my playback mode, I noticed he lacked tail feathers. Cool! a Mexican Tailless Mockingbird! (Below). He flew from branch to branch and from tree to tree without any noticeable difficulty, but we departed on our trip before I could see if he could fly any reasonable long distances. After reading up on the topic, I found that birds can indeed fly without tail feathers, but with more difficulty since the tail acts as a rudder, so they have less control.  I was wondering how this guy lost his tail. It almost looks like it was chopped off.
A Tropical Mockingbird without a tail, Cancun, Mx; 12/21/10.
In the limited area of overlap in southern Mexico, the Tropical can be separated from the Northern by the lack of a whitish patch near the base of the primaries, which are more visible for the Northern when in flight and obviously non-existent in a Tropical ( ). When I visit Arizona during my Christmas break, I see many Northern Mockingbirds in and around Phoenix (Below), and saw some in Tennessee and the Carolinas early last summer.

Two photos of Northern Mockingbirds, Phoenix AZ; 12/25/09.

iguana of the day, Isla Contoy, Mx; 12/21/10.


Anonymous said...

Anotehr bird we don't have...I love that picture of the bird between the red berries...loving your iguana pics how that foot is hanging in the air!

Anonymous said...

You are the only one that talks about a tailless mockingbird. The past 3 days, we have had one feeding at our feeder. My picture is poor, due to lack of telephoto lens, but I am curious if this bird is just passing by or will stay for the season. We are in the tristate area of Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Marie

jon said...

The fact that we both saw Mockingbirds without tails, I think, is just a coincidence. Their tails are so long, that they could easily get caught in somthing or grabbed by a predator and get torn off.
The fact that you live in a geographical area that Mockingbirds reside in, it could very easily establish a home there; however, bird guidebooks also say they reside in northern Illinois as well, and I have never seen one here. They can be found as far north on the Atlantic Coast as Nova Scotia, so your tailless Mockingbird could easily be travelling further.