Friday, May 4, 2012

Northern Mockingbirds with no tails

A Northern Mockingbird without a tail, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/26/2011.
Last winter was the second time that I saw a Mockingbird without a tail (Above). This time a Northern Mockingbird at the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert, AZ. The first time I saw a tailless Mockingbird (a Tropical Mockingbird, I believe) was at a boat marina near Cancun, Mexico, in December of 2010.  (See my blog post ).
A nice rear view of no tail on this N. Mockingbird, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/26/2011.
I also had an anonymous reader, Marie, from the East Coast send me the following message on March 22, 2011:
     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 "

I know that these three incidents are probably purely coincidental, but it's fun to make some wild conjectures:
          1. There is a species of Mockingbirds that have no tails, that no one in the ornithological world
               has acknowledged.
          2. The N. Mockingbird that I saw last December, is the same one that Marie saw on the
              East Coast in March of 2011, and perhaps the same one I saw in Mexico but misidentified it
              as a tropical Mockingbird.
          3. All Mockingbirds go through a phase in which they lose their tail feathers and they regrow.
Well, as it turns out, I am not the only person who has mentioned tailless Mockingbirds. Below are links to other sites I've located on the Internet that either refer to Mockingbirds without tails and/or have photos: (Read 4th entry down) (Scroll down to the 6th entry)

A Northern Mockingbird with its tail intact, Phoenix, AZ; 12/25/2009.
A more likely scenario about why Mockingbirds lose their tails could be, because Mockingbirds are bolder and more curious than the average bird and their tails are long (Above) compared to their shorter wings that...
     1.  it is easier for their tails to get caught in something and the feathers get pulled out ...
     2.  or get caught by a predator (a house cat or fox, etc.) which grabs a hold of the tail,
         but the bird escapes leaving its tail behind (no pun intended).
Other causes could be ...
     3. genetic in nature, where some key ingredient of the DNA is missing that causes a bird to be
         hatched without a tail ( I am no scientist, so I don't know if I even stated that correctly),
     4. or from some sort of parasite that infested the nest while the bird was being fledged.

Have fun with your own theories.


Daisy Deems said...

I currently have one in my yard. I thought it was a juvenile

Trish @TheOldPostRoad said...

I have a mockingbird in my yard this season with only white tail feathers. The middle gray long one is completely gone. The two white sides remain and sort of look like a forked tail. he flies just fine! I see him constantly! Am guessing a cat grabbed it or perhaps he was born that way (since it doesn't seem to affect his flight!)

Anonymous said...

I have noticed for several days that 2 or 3 mockingbirds have been chasing each other through the trees and shrubs rather vigorously all the while "thacking". They will keep this up for quite a few minutes. I'm wondering if this "fighting" is the cause of some in my yard to be tailless!

Anonymous said...

In the Nashville, TN area. Have an adult mockingbird (too big and wrong time of year for fledgling) that has no tail. Seems to get around just fine.

Anonymous said...

I just spotted a tailless Mockingbird outside my office window. It was very close, and groomed in one spot for about a minute, so I got a very good look. Looked very odd, but seemed to fly just fine without the typical long tail feathers.

It just returned, and I got another good look. The fluffy feathers on the head and chest maybe indicate it is a juvenile?

Location: Winchester, Tennessee

Date/Time: 8/14/2018, 2:50 PM