One of our most common backyard birds is the northern mockingbird.  Northern mockingbirds range across the entire state of Georgia.  In fact, I suspect the bird is so common it is probably difficult to locate anyone that cannot identify a mockingbird. However, far fewer Georgians know that, at this time of the year, it is possible to tell whether the mockingbird they are looking at is an adult or a bird that fledged earlier this spring. 

       Obviously, when young mockingbirds take their first flights, they have the general appearance of their parents. However, as they continue to mature, and develop the distinct feather pattern of their parents, it is easy to mistake a young mocker from an adult.  However, if a mockingbird has dark eyes, shows yellow on its bill and displays spots on its breast, it is a youngster.  Keep in mind the spotting on the breast quickly fades.  The bill and eye color also change with time.

                     YOUNG MOCKINGBIRDS; PHOTO CREDIT: Terry W Johnson

       Often, we birders are often guilty of giving a mockingbird nothing more than a casual glance. Yet, when we take the time to study every bird we see, we sometimes notice subtle differences between birds.  This adds immeasurably to your birding experience.



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