What Do Mockingbirds Like to Eat? (Tips to Feed Them)

Mockingbirds are fascinating creatures known for their incredible ability to mimic the songs of other birds, as well as various sounds from their environment. They are adaptive and widespread throughout North America, making them a common sight in many neighborhoods. An essential aspect of understanding mockingbirds is knowing what they eat, as their diet plays a crucial role in their survival and ability to thrive in various habitats.

These omnivorous birds primarily feed on insects, fruits, and berries. In the warmer breeding season, insects typically make up around 85% of their diet, with this percentage decreasing to about 15% in winter months. In addition to insects, mockingbirds also enjoy consuming a wide variety of fruits, berries, and even small animals like snails and lizards when available. These highly adaptable birds are resourceful in finding food sources to sustain them throughout the year.

Key Takeaways

  • Mockingbirds primarily consume insects, fruits, and berries as part of their diet.
  • Insects make up a more significant portion of their diet during the breeding season compared to winter months.
  • These adaptable birds are capable of feeding on a diverse range of food sources, including small animals like snails and lizards.

Mockingbird Diet Overview

Mockingbirds are fascinating creatures, known for their incredible vocal abilities and wide range of song imitations. But what do these talented birds like to eat? As it turns out, mockingbirds have a diverse and omnivorous diet, primarily consisting of insects, fruits, and seeds.

During the warmer breeding season, insects become the prime focus for Northern mockingbirds. In fact, they can account for around 85% of their diet during these warmer months, while this falls to around 15% in winter source. Some of the insects that mockingbirds enjoy include beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, ants, and wasps source.

Other important components of the mockingbird’s diet include various plant foods. Fruits, seeds, and flowers make up the remaining 50% of their diet, providing essential nutrients and energy source. Additionally, they have been known to munch on small animals like snails or lizards from time to time, further expanding their diet source.

Mockingbirds are quite adaptable, thanks to their widely varied diet. They can thrive in different habitats, ranging from forests and grasslands to suburban backyards. If you’re interested in attracting mockingbirds to your yard, you can try offering some fresh or dried fruits on a platform feeder, or hanging a suet feeder from a stand or tree branch. They may even be enticed to snack on some types of seeds, grains, and suet source.

As the seasons change, so does the mockingbird’s focus on specific food sources. Crucially, this adaptability and variety in their diet grants them the ability to live in various environments and locations.

Read Next: What Do Sparrows Eat?

Insect Consumption

When it comes to the diet of mockingbirds, insects play a significant role as a major food source. These birds are known for their diverse and adaptive eating habits, which include consuming a variety of insects and other small invertebrates.

Common Insects

Mockingbirds primarily feed on beetles, ants, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and spiders. Additionally, they have been known to consume other arthropods such as worms, wasps, and bees. These insects are vital for the birds’ nutritional needs, as they provide essential proteins and other nutrients.

  • Beetles: These insects are among the most preferred food items for mockingbirds due to their abundance and nutritional content.
  • Ants: Although smaller in size, ants are another popular insect choice for mockingbirds due to their ubiquity and the high level of protein they provide.
  • Grasshoppers: Mockingbirds often feed on grasshoppers, which are not only easy for them to catch, but also are a great source of nourishment.
  • Caterpillars: Rich in proteins and fats, these larval-stage insects are a valuable food source for mockingbirds.
  • Spiders: Mockingbirds do not shy away from consuming spiders as a part of their diet, despite their unconventional appearance by some standards.

The consumption of insects is especially prominent during the warmer breeding season, where they make up to 85% of the mockingbirds’ diet. This preference shifts during the winter months, with insects comprising only around 15% of their food intake. This seasonal variation allows mockingbirds to adapt to the availability of food sources and maintain a balance in their diet.

Fruits and Berries

Mockingbirds are omnivorous birds that enjoy a variety of fruits and berries in their diet. These natural sources of nourishment help them stay healthy and energetic in the wild. Fruits and berries are an essential part of their diet, consisting of approximately 20% of their intake, while insects make up the other 80%. The availability of these food sources often depends on the season, with a higher reliance on fruits and berries in winter.

Favorite Fruits

  • Apples and Pears: These fruits are easily accessible in many environments and provide an excellent source of nutrition for mockingbirds. Offer sliced apples or pears to attract them to your garden.
  • Grapes: Rich in sugar, grapes are a favorite treat for many bird species including mockingbirds. They relish this small juicy fruit and can often be observed feasting on grapevines.
  • Bananas: While not a primary food source for mockingbirds, they may occasionally be observed indulging in this sweet fruit. Leaving out ripe banana slices may entice them to visit your yard.
  • Oranges: Mockingbirds enjoy the sweet taste of oranges, and this citrus fruit serves as a valuable source of vitamins. Offer orange slices in your garden to attract these beautiful birds.
  • Berries: A variety of berry-producing shrubs, like holly, provide a natural and essential food source for mockingbirds. These birds are known to feast on various types of berries, allowing them to thrive even during the colder winter months when insects are harder to find.

Keep in mind, incorporating diverse fruit trees and berry-producing shrubs in your garden can help attract mockingbirds and provide them with a well-rounded diet. It’s essential to ensure they have access to an assortment of fruits and berries throughout the year, as seasonal availability can impact their health and well-being.

Nuts, Seeds, and Grains

Mockingbirds are known to consume a variety of nuts, seeds, and grains as part of their diet. These sources of nutrients play a crucial role in their overall health and survival. Nuts and seeds preferred by mockingbirds encompass sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and peanuts.

Sunflower seeds are particularly popular among mockingbirds due to their high amounts of protein, fat, and essential nutrients. These seeds provide not only energy to the birds but also support their muscle and feather growth. Other seeds and nuts rich in vital nutrients contribute to maintaining a healthy and balanced diet for the birds as well.

Besides nuts and seeds, mockingbirds also feed on various grains. Grains serve as a supplementary source of food for these birds, ensuring they receive essential carbohydrates to maintain their energy levels. Grains such as millet and cracked corn can attract mockingbirds, providing them with an enriched diet that complements their intake of insects and fruits.

Feeding Nestlings

When it comes to raising baby mockingbirds, proper nutrition is crucial for their growth and development. In this section, we will focus on the preferred food for nestlings to ensure their well-being and survival.

Food for Baby Mockingbirds

Female mockingbirds are primarily responsible for feeding their chicks during the nestling stage. These dedicated parents provide a variety of insects and invertebrates to ensure a balanced diet for their young ones:

  • Mealworms: These larvae of the darkling beetle are a popular food source for baby mockingbirds, offering them essential nutrients and proteins for their growth.
  • Snails: Snails are also a part of the mockingbird nestlings’ diet, providing both protein and calcium.
  • Earthworms: Rich in protein, earthworms are a staple food in the diet of many baby birds, including mockingbirds.
  • Beetle larvae: As another protein-rich option, beetle larvae are often included in the diet of mockingbird nestlings.
  • Caterpillars and crickets: These insects are also fed to baby mockingbirds, providing them with the necessary proteins for healthy growth.

While in the nest, baby mockingbirds depend on their parents to bring them appropriate food sources, ensuring they receive all the necessary nutrients required for their development. As these little birds grow, they gradually progress to a more diverse diet, incorporating fruits and seeds in addition to their insect meals.

By understanding the nutritional needs of baby mockingbirds, we can better appreciate the efforts these amazing birds put into raising their young. So, whether you’re a bird enthusiast or just curious about nature, knowing about the feeding habits of mockingbird nestlings can provide valuable insight into the fascinating world of avian life.

Other Foods and Prey

Besides their main diet of insects and fruits, mockingbirds are also known to eat a variety of other foods and prey. One such example is the consumption of small lizards. These agile birds have been observed skillfully hunting and catching lizards to supplement their diet. Lizards provide an additional protein source and can be beneficial for the birds’ overall health.

In addition to lizards, mockingbirds have also been known to eat small snakes. Although this is less common, these adaptable creatures can tackle and consume small snake species when the opportunity arises. Snakes are another source of protein and can help fulfill the birds’ dietary needs.

Moreover, crayfish are on the menu for mockingbirds, especially when other food sources are scarce. By scooping these freshwater crustaceans out of the water, mockingbirds can obtain essential nutrients that may not be found in their usual diet. Consuming crayfish is a testament to the mockingbirds’ resourcefulness and adaptability.

Furthermore, more surprising items on the menu include tree sap and plant matter. Mockingbirds are known to occasionally feed on sap from trees, which provides them with additional sugars and nutrients. This proves that their diet can be more diverse than just insects and fruits.

Finally, while mockingbirds are primarily insectivores and frugivores, they have been known to sometimes eat small animals such as rodents or other birds’ nestlings. It is essential to note that this behavior is not common, and the majority of their diet still consists of insects and fruits. Nonetheless, the occasional consumption of meat highlights the diverse diet and adaptability of these fascinating birds.

Overall, the diet of mockingbirds showcases their versatility and resilience in finding food sources. They are not just limited to insects and fruits but can consume a variety of other prey like lizards, small snakes, crayfish, tree sap, and occasionally, small animals. This diversity in their diet demonstrates the adaptability and resourcefulness of the mockingbird as a species.

Feeding Techniques


Northern Mockingbirds are known to be skilled foragers, searching for a variety of foods in their environment. Their primary diet consists of insects, berries, and fruits. Insects make up a significant portion of their food intake, as Mockingbirds have an essential role in controlling unwanted pest populations, which include grasshoppers and ants. During the breeding season, they consume more arthropods and invertebrates than plants, which are rich in protein and essential for their chicks’ growth.

As the seasons change, so do Northern Mockingbirds’ feeding habits. In the winter, insects become scarce, leading the birds to rely more heavily on plants for sustenance. They’ll feast on berries and other available fruits, even eating from bird feeders when provided with treats like suet and sliced fruit, such as oranges and apples.


Not only are Northern Mockingbirds excellent foragers, but they’re also adept hunters. These versatile birds hunt insects and small animals both on the ground and in the air. They often use their keen eyesight to detect their prey, swooping down to snatch up insects and spiders. Their agility and speed enable them to capture fast-moving insects quickly and efficiently.

Aside from insects, Northern Mockingbirds may occasionally hunt snakes, although this is rare. They’re also known to eat mealworms, which can be offered at bird feeders and are an excellent source of protein for these birds.

When dealing with predators, Northern Mockingbirds exhibit incredible bravery in defending their territory and nests. They’ll fiercely confront any potential threats, regardless of size, thanks to their incredible vocal capabilities that help them mimic a variety of other bird species’ calls. This ability helps them deter predators and protect their young from potential dangers.

Attracting Mockingbirds to Your Yard

Creating a Mockingbird-Friendly Environment

Attracting mockingbirds to your yard can be accomplished by providing them with their favorite foods and an inviting habitat. These fascinating birds are drawn to areas that offer a mix of vegetation, such as trees and bushes, which provide shelter and nesting opportunities.

When it comes to feeding, mockingbirds are particularly fond of meat-based meals like mealworms and suet. Setting up a suet feeder in your yard is a great way to grab their attention. Additionally, you may also offer plant-based foods such as sunflower seeds, peanuts, and fruit. If you choose to feed them peanuts, remember to chop them up well before placing them in your bird feeder.

Apart from food, it’s essential to provide fresh water for these birds. Installing a birdbath or a water dish is an excellent way to attract mockingbirds to your yard. Make sure the water source is placed in a safe location, such as a tree branch or a spot where predators cannot easily access it.

Also, consider planting sunflowers and other flowers around your yard. These can naturally attract mockingbirds and provide them with an additional food source. Including native vegetation and plants with berries can also encourage these birds to visit your yard, as they can provide shelter and nesting materials.

During winter months, mockingbirds may require a little extra help to find food. Their natural diet includes insects like grasshoppers, so providing suet, mealworms, and seeds can be especially beneficial during this time of the year.

By following these guidelines and creating a welcoming environment, you can successfully attract mockingbirds to your yard and enjoy their beautiful songs and unique behavior.

Northern Mockingbird: A Unique Species

The Northern Mockingbird, a widespread species found across North America, is known for its remarkable singing capabilities. They can mimic the calls of various birds, manmade sounds like music and machinery, and even the calls of at least 12 North American frog and toad species. This skillful adaptation makes the Northern Mockingbird a fascinating bird that stands out from the rest.

These birds exhibit unique behavior patterns, often recognized by their territorial nature during the breeding season. Northern Mockingbirds will defend their territories fiercely, chasing away intruders and even engaging in aerial battles with other birds. This territorial behavior is not limited to just other birds, as adults have been known to defend their space against animals and humans as well. To further solidify their territories, mockingbirds frequently sing from high perches, such as tall shrubs, poles, or utility lines.

The Northern Mockingbird’s adaptability is another noteworthy characteristic. Found in various habitats ranging from urban areas to forests, these birds demonstrate remarkable growth and resilience. They are often seen running or hopping across lawns as they forage for food. Interestingly, their diet is quite diverse, mainly consisting of insects, berries and fruits, nuts and seeds, snails and worms, and even flowers. This varied diet further emphasizes their ability to flourish in different environments.

During the breeding season, Northern Mockingbirds tend to form monogamous pairs. Both parents work together to build nests and raise their young, sharing the responsibilities of feeding and protecting the offspring. This collaboration between the parents showcases the social nature of these unique birds.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do Southern mockingbirds eat?

Southern mockingbirds, like their Northern counterparts, are also omnivorous. Their diet consists of a mix of insects, arthropods, fruits, and seeds. They primarily enjoy feasting on grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, wasps, and ants, and appreciate a variety of berries and fruits as well.

What do baby mockingbirds eat?

Baby mockingbirds are primarily fed a diet of insects and invertebrates by their parents. They consume protein-rich foods such as caterpillars, spiders, and earthworms. As they grow older and become more capable of foraging, they start to incorporate fruits and seeds into their diet as well.

Do mockingbirds eat sunflower seeds?

Though mockingbirds might not have sunflower seeds as a primary part of their diet, they may occasionally eat them. They do prefer insects, arthropods, and fruits, but they are known to be opportunistic eaters, and if they come across sunflower seeds, they might give them a try.

Do mockingbirds eat blueberries?

Yes, mockingbirds are fans of blueberries. They enjoy a variety of fruits and berries as part of their diet and can often be found snacking on blueberries. Creating a bird-friendly environment by planting berry-producing plants can help attract mockingbirds to your garden.

Do mockingbirds eat peanuts?

Although peanuts are not a natural part of a mockingbird’s primary diet, they are versatile eaters and may occasionally indulge in peanuts if they are available. However, it’s more likely to see them feasting on insects and fruits, which provide them with essential nutrients and energy.

What fruits do mockingbirds eat?

Mockingbirds enjoy a variety of fruits, including berries, cherries, figs, grapes, and apples. They also consume other plant-based foods such as seeds and flowers. Providing fruiting plants or fruit feeders in your backyard can be an excellent way to attract mockingbirds and create a welcoming habitat for them.

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