Feeding Mockingbirds

In the landscape: Mockingbirds live on insects, fruits and berries in wooded areas. In fact, their partiality to the invasive wild multiflora rose is probably encouraged mockers to extend their range northward in its wake. They love fruits from redcedar, honeysuckle and holly as well.

At the feeder: The presence of feeding stations is another reason why mockingbirds have expanded their range northward. In colder regions they literally keep mockers alive over the winter. In milder climates interest in feeders varies widely. Some mockingbirds visit regularly, others intermittently or never. They are ground feeders, so they are most likely to visit a platform feeder that is only three to six feet off the ground. Some are comfortable with window shelves. They are not big on grain or seeds but like suet, peanut kernels and peanut butter. They love fruits such as apple slices, raisins, oranges, grapes, bananas, bread or cake and cottage cheese. They will eat suet but not from a hanging suet cage. A source of fresh water is critical to them, and they will use a birdbath for drinking and bathing whether it is on the ground or on a stand. See Yardener’s Toolshed for examples of feeders and food.

Mockingbirds tend to guard their territories jealously. A matter of survival for them in winter, they will chase perceived intruders of all kinds -- other birds, cats, squirrels and even people -- from the holly tree or feeder that they have decided is theirs. Do not hang feeders near berry bushes to avoid a regular commotion.

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