This will be the second season for my Northern Mockingbird who has made my neighborhood his home. At the onset of winter, I put up the bird feeders using a wide variety of bird foods along with suet for the Woodpeckers. During mid-winter I noticed the Northern Mockingbird stopping by the platform feeder and was picking through the seed for his favorites. As the days of snow, rain and sleet picked up I decided to obtain a bag of dried mealworms to try out.
By mid-January, I started to mix the mealworms with the bird food and see which bird takes the mealworms, of the birds visiting my feeders such as Blue Jays, Cardinals, Dark-eyed Junco, Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadees, American Finches, Sparrows, and Carolina Wrens - It was the Northern Mockingbird who first took an interest in the mealworms and ate them with delight - in fact, my Northern Mockingbird loved them.
Taking it up a notch - Now that I know my Northern Mockingbird likes dried mealworms - what if I offered some live mealworms? I went online and ordered a 1000 and in a few days, the live mealworm feeders were at my doorstep.
The ritual begins - I established a special feeding bowl for my Northern Mockingbird and had been stocking it with dried mealworms. The day following the arrival of live mealworm feeders I replaced the freeze-dried mealworms with "live" mealworms and the Mockingbird's reaction was amazing. I could literally see how happy this Northern Mockingbird when he saw what was in the feeder tray.
Watchful Northern Mockingbird - My Northern Mockingbird will sit out behind my house and watch for me through the patio window and when he sees me through the glass he will swoop down and perch on the deck landing zone and basically let me know he wants some mealworms. As I get out the container of live mealworms the Northern Mockingbird will hop over and wait for me to stock the feeder tray. Occasionally I will toss a worm out and he will dive down and pull it from the grass - amazing eyesight. As soon as the feeder tray is stocked my Northern Mockingbird will run down the patio rail and jump on the feeder.
Note: This is the only bird that interacts with me for which I provide food for in this way. My Northern Mockingbird knows where the worms come from and will let me know when he wants some, and this bird will approach and eat while I am standing close to the feeder.
Smart and Inquisitive - To make things more interesting I will at times place the mealworms along the fence and then motion for the Mockingbird using the worm container - the mockingbird relates me and the container with food. The Northern Mockingbird will dive down to the fence and I will point to the group of mealworms and the Mockingbird will run down the fence to where I am pointing and find the worms I placed.
Needless to say, this Northern Mockingbird has a special place in my backyard due to his friendly, trusting nature and how fast he picked up a change in the normal routine. The other thing I like about my Northern Mockingbird is he chases the Starlings away.
Photographing The Northern Mockingbird - Out in the wild the Northern Mockingbird is not too timid which allows for a better opportunity to photograph the Mockingbird in its natural environment. The rule of thumb like most bird photography is to be patience, approach slowly and make no sudden moves and if at all possible try not to make direct eye contact.
In Your Back Yard - If you are lucky enough to live in an environment that supports the Northern Mockingbird such as open grassy areas close to shrubs, bushes, and trees you can attempt to befriend a Northern Mockingbird with some food tidbits on a recurring basis. This helps with a trust relationship and allows you to get frame filling close even with a non-telephoto lens, late winter or early spring is the best time to befriend a Northern Mockingbird. The more the Mockingbird trust you the better your photos will be.