Mimidae – Mockingbirds, Thrashers & Allies

Chalk-browed Mockingbird Mimus saturninus ©James Lowen Website

The mimids are the New World family of passerine birds, Mimidae, that includes thrashers, mockingbirds, tremblers, and the New World catbirds. As their name (Latin for ‘mimic’) suggests, these birds are notable for their vocalisation, especially some species’ remarkable ability to mimic a wide variety of birds and other sounds heard outdoors.

There are over 30 species of mimids in two larger and some 10 small or monotypic genera. They tend towards dull greys and browns in their appearance, though a few are black or blue-grey, and many have red, yellow, or white irises. They range from 20 to 33 centimetres in length, and 36 to 56 grams in weight. Many mimids have a rather thrush-like pattern: brown above, pale with dark streaks or spots below. They tend to have longer tails than thrushes (or the bigger wrens, which they also resemble) and longer bills that in many species curve downward.

They have long, strong legs (for passerines) with which many species hop through undergrowth searching for arthropods and fruits to eat. Their habitat varies from forest undergrowth to scrub, high-altitude grasslands, and deserts. The two tremblers live in the atypical habitat of rain forests in the Lesser Antilles, and the brown trembler has the particularly atypical behaviour of foraging while clinging to tree trunks.

All known species build somewhat messy, bulky twig nests in dense growth, in most species on the ground or no more than 2 meters up. They usually lay 2 to 5 eggs that hatch in 12 or 13 days, which is also the length of time the chicks stay in the nest. Breeding usually starts in the spring or early in the rainy season, and many species can have two or even three broods per year. Most failures to fledge young are due to predation. Pairs often stay together for more than one breeding season.

There are 34 Species in this family, all exclusive to the New World – both Western Nearctic and Neotropical zones. They are:

Grey Catbird Dumetella carolinensis

Black Catbird Melanoptila glabrirostris

Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
Tropical Mockingbird Mimus gilvus
Bahama Mockingbird Mimus gundlachii
Chilean Mockingbird Mimus thenca
Long-tailed Mockingbird Mimus longicaudatus
Chalk-browed Mockingbird Mimus saturninus
Patagonian Mockingbird Mimus patagonicus
White-banded Mockingbird Mimus triurus
Brown-backed Mockingbird Mimus dorsalis
Galapagos Mockingbird Mimus parvulus
Floreana Mockingbird Mimus trifasciatus
Hood Mockingbird Mimus macdonaldi
San Cristobal Mockingbird Mimus melanotis
Socorro Mockingbird Mimus graysoni

Sage Thrasher Oreoscoptes montanus

Brown Thrasher Toxostoma rufum
Long-billed Thrasher Toxostoma longirostre
Cozumel Thrasher Toxostoma guttatum
Grey Thrasher Toxostoma cinereum
Bendire’s Thrasher Toxostoma bendirei
Ocellated Thrasher Toxostoma ocellatum
Curve-billed Thrasher Toxostoma curvirostre
California Thrasher Toxostoma redivivum
Crissal Thrasher Toxostoma crissale
Le Conte’s Thrasher Toxostoma lecontei

White-breasted Thrasher Ramphocinclus brachyurus

Blue Mockingbird Melanotis caerulescens
Blue-and-white Mockingbird Melanotis hypoleucus

Scaly-breasted Thrasher Allenia fusca

Pearly-eyed Thrasher Margarops fuscatus

Brown Trembler Cinclocerthia ruficauda
Grey Trembler Cinclocerthia gutturalis

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 34

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