What to do with a territorial Mocking bird?!

armyyifeMarch 5, 2007

I have a Mocking bird who chases every bird that comes into my yard. I put up a Bluebird house and saw a Bluebird fly down to it to check it out and right away the the Mocking bird dive bombs the little bird chasing it away. I only have a suet feeder and the Mocking bird is the only one who goes to it. I have a new feeder for song birds but I'm afraid that darn MB will continue to chase off all the birds. I see him chasing birds off all the time in both mine and the 2 peoples houses behind me. Please someone tell me what I can do! I really want my bluebirds to come but if this guy hangs around I don't think I will ever get some.


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Hi Meghan; I posted this thread over on the bluebird forum and it might be worth repeating here:

Hi, I rarely have time to post here anymore, but with the upcoming [bluebird] season about ready to kickoff, I wanted to post some "data" that I have compiled this year from my backyard research on what I call "The Mockingbird Wars." As we have all seen, mockers are real scrappers and are very territorial--particularly when their nesting season starts. We sialiphiles (a term coined by some forum bluebird lovers ;o) become so understandably attached to the resident blues that it is not uncommon to come here and read about people considering trapping and relocating, hurting or even killing mockers when the mockers start bullying the bluebirds out of the feeders, etc. This is always extremely worrisome to me. So I decided to do some "research" to give people some food for thought:

I have had a few resident mockers over the years. When I first started bluebirding, like everyone else, I was appalled to see the mocker bullying my bluebirds. As much as I schemed and considered how to discourage the mocker's behavior, I realized that I couldn't and maybe shouldn't really interfere. I noticed that, in addition to chasing the blues, the mocker also chased crows and even hawks from the yard (I have to admire the scrappiness of a bird of that size that will chase a hawk!!) So, I have continued to watch this over the years and this year it has really been comical. The bluebirds will come to the feeder and watch for the mocker. The mocker comes in like a jet fighter and scares them away then struts around on the top of the feeder even though he doesn't have a prayer of getting a morsel of food out of the feeder (he is too big). The bluebirds fly up to the roof of the garage or the wire or back to their box and preen or pretend to ignore him until he gets distracted. When he is gone, they they make another pass at the feeder. For the most part, I have noticed that they are successful in most cases in getting fed--even peacefully at times until he returns. They even seem to enjoy the game. Most importantly, I think it has made them more alert to competitors and predators, and this has got to be a good thing. I figure that by scaring the mocker for them or by doing a number of other things that people might consider, I would be snatching the lesson from the bluebirds. I believe that letting them deal with the mockingbird on their own really helps to create smarter, quicker bluebirds and smarter, quicker bluebirds live longer and make better parents--our common goal in bluebirding.

Some additional considerations: 1) the blues do not need the mealworms that we provide, 2) I have never read or heard a report of a mocker killing a bluebird, 3) and most importantly, it is illegal to kill or harass any native bird.

So, have a great season and enjoy watching your own mockingbird wars!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2007 at 8:10PM
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anninmd(z7a MD)

I have a pair of mockingbirds living in my back yard and put up a bluebird house one year. The bluebirds did successfully raise one brood of babies. When the mockingbirds went after them the bluebirds held their ground and chased the mockingbirds off. Soon the mockingbirds left them alone. Later in the year the bluebirds tried again, but only had one baby. They decided it wasn't worth the fight, and they abandoned the baby. So sometimes there isn't a happy ending. After that I removed the house from the back yard.

That was several years ago. I have many holly bushes with berries in my back yard which the mockingbirds eat all winter. I will probably always only have mockingbirds. It's best just to learn to enjoy what nature decides to fill your yard with.

I do have a bird feeder, but it is in my front yard, which the mockingbirds aren't interested in. Maybe you could try putting your birdhouse in your front yard?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 2:03PM
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Ann, I'm going to play devil's advocate here. I would be willing to bet something more than a mockingbird scared the bluebirds away from that house. There may have been something wrong with the baby or perhaps wasps or something. I am not saying it couldn't happen, but I just know that the bluebirds I have seen wouldn't abandon a baby short of thinking their life was in danger.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 8:14PM
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anninmd(z7a MD)

Vonyon, you may be right. However, when I cleaned out the house later, I found that the tiny, featherless baby had managed to climb from the nest and died clinging to the opening. Truly heartbreaking. I took that as a sign that the baby was healthy. But maybe not.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 12:34PM
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Ann, I'm really sorry for your loss. I'm sure that was hard. Frequently I have found paper wasp's nest on the roof of a house and that will definitely cause the parents to abandon a nest. Did you see anything like that? I thought of something else.......maybe the pair was young. That may have made them intimidated by the mocker. My blues were more scared a few years ago when they were young. I never saw anything like that, but they did abandon a nest a few times before they had eggs or babies because a HOSP was threatening them. As for the mocker, they are intimidated by it, but they just wait him/her out and go about their business.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 3:24PM
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anninmd(z7a MD)

No, I didn't see any sign of wasps in the house. It was late in the summer when this happened, so the parents could very well have been young.

By the way, I moved the house away from mocker territory after that, and the next time the house was used was last summer by a pair of tufted titmice. The mother was captured and killed by (probably) a cat and all the babies died. I posted about this when it happened and you, Vonyon, were so kind and sympathetic to me. I appreciated it at the time and still remember it. Anyway, after that I threw away the house. It just had too many bad memories for me and I didn't want to go through another tragedy with it.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 4:57PM
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I've had resident mockingbirds for a few years now, and surprisingly, they're pretty tolerant of the other birds. Well, as long as they stay away from the suet feeder. Although the last few days I noticed a decline in bird activity (sparrows, juncos), but the goldfinches are out and about. The funny thing is that I believe my mockers like to torment my indoor cat; it drives her CRAZY! They just keep coming back for more; sometimes just hanging out, other times squawking up a storm. 2 of them take turns; one stands guard on the phoneline, the other hits the tree; then they switch places.

Last year:

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 2:25PM
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I have one that thinks he owns this place .He looks in windows,if my dog walks down the driveway he flys down and pecks her on the butt.same with the cat.Hes been here seems he didnt leaveover winter.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 11:19AM
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I have a pair of bluebirds trying to nest in our new (sparrow resistant house)--that's a joke--finally had to open up a space for the sparrows so they would leave the bluebird house along.

Real problem is the young Mockingbird which we have fed throughout the winter with chopped up grapes (loves them) and he is one territorial monster!

I moved his grapes further down the yard away from the bluebird house and it only took him 30 minutes to find it and gobble down everything he can get and not let one other bird in there--plan is to move it to the front of the house and stop. Actually, he should be hunting food for himself, but I guess we spoiled him. His parents certainly were a lot more tolerant of other birds--but he is a real stinker.

The bluebirds like the house and are trying to nest and yet I saw the mocking bird land right in between both of them and just dare them to live there--at which time I interceded, but won't do that again.

They have come back again since that episode--so I feel they will nest there--in between the thunderstorms, hail and tornado warnings.

And your advice has been very helpful--last year was my first year for blues in the box, although blues do come to my yard and bathe and show me their offspring, but my first box experience ended in blowflies--cried for a long, long time--felt very guilty and will not let that ever happen again.

Wish me luck as the bluebirds just make me so happy and thank you vonyon for sharing your experience with the mockers so I can let nature take its course.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 3:32PM
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Marilyn Gianetti

I have a pair of bluebirds, this is the 3rd year my box has been up, so I am cautiously hopefull that this will be the year we finally have babies. The bluebirds are using the box to make thier nest, no eggs laid, yet. This afternoon I noticed the mockingbirds (that have successfully nested for 2 years, now) back and doing thier territorial thing. I have stopped with feeding the wrens with the cheap birdfood they like, as they would use the bluebird house and scare the bluebirds away (past two years). Now, the mockingbirds are back....they have successfully fledge their flock the last two years, and are probably back at it again. Any suggestions on what to expect? Thanks birdlovers!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2015 at 6:31PM
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