Galapagos mockingbird (Mimus parvulus)

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Galapagos mockingbird perched on Opuntia cactus
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Galapagos mockingbird fact file

Galapagos mockingbird description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyMimidae
GenusMimus (1)

The limelight may have been stolen by Darwin’s more famous finches, but it was the mockingbirds of the Galapagos that had the greatest early influence on his theory of Natural Selection. Of the four species of mockingbird that occur in the archipelago, the Galapagos mockingbird is by far the most widespread (3). The crown, nape and tail of this mockingbird are blackish brown, while the brown wings are partially tipped with white, and the throat, chest and belly are broadly white, with flecks of brown to the flanks (3) (4). Seven subspecies are currently recognised that differ slightly in overall size, colouration and markings (2) (3).

Synonyms
Nesomimus parvulus, Nesomimus transfasciatus.
Size
Length: 25 - 26 cm (2)
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Galapagos mockingbird biology

The Galapagos mockingbird is a cooperative breeder with territorial groups generally comprising two to five adults but sometimes many more (3) (6). These intriguing and often complex social groups may comprise a single breeding female or several, with breeding pairs occupying individual nests but defending the group territory collectively. Typically contributing to the group dynamic are non-breeders (usually male off-spring from previous broods or failed breeders) that help to raise nestlings. Furthermore it is not uncommon for breeders to also help raise nestlings that aren’t their own (2) (3). The nests are made from twigs and located low down on cacti or higher up on taller vegetation. Four eggs are normally laid and incubated over 12 to 13 days before hatching (2).

Instead of flying, the Galapagos mockingbird is often seen running along the ground (7). It has a varied omnivorous diet comprising arthropods, fruit, nectar from cacti and other plants, small vertebrates, sea bird eggs and nestlings, and carrion (2). In addition, this species will remove ticks from the bodies of land iguanas, and populations on Santa Fe Island are known to occasionally drink blood from the wounds of living land and marine iguanas (2) (5) (8).

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Galapagos mockingbird range

Endemic to the Galapagos Islands, the Galapagos mockingbird is found on most of the major islands except those inhabited by one of the other three mockingbird species (2) (5). The different subspecies are found on separate islands: Mimus parvulus parvulus is found on most of the central islands including Santa Cruz, North Seymour, Isabela and Fernandina; M. p. personatus is found on Pinta Island; M. p. barringtoni is found on Santa Fe Island; M. p. bauri is found on Genovesa Island; M. p. bindloei is found on the islands of Marchena, Santiago and Rabida; M. p. wenmani is found on Wolf Island; and M. p. hulli is found on Darwin Island (3)

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Galapagos mockingbird habitat

The Galapagos mockingbird is found in a range of habitats including arid, coastal scrub, low Bursera woodland and mangroves (2).

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Galapagos mockingbird status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1). Subspecies: Galapagos mockingbird Mimus parvulus parvulus, Pinta mockingbird Mimus parvulus personatus, Santa Fe mockingbird Mimus parvulus barringtoni, Genovesa mockingbird Mimus parvulus bauri, James mockingbird Mimus parvulus bindloei, Wolf mockingbird Mimus parvulus wenmani and Darwin mockingbird Mimus parvulus hulli (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern

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Galapagos mockingbird threats

The Galapagos mockingbird is relatively common throughout its range and its overall population is not thought to be declining. Consequently, of the four species of mockingbird that occur within the archipelago, only the Galapagos mockingbird is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List (1). However, there is some speculation that a population of Galapagos mockingbirds may have existed on Pinzón Island, and been driven to extinction by introduced black rats before the first naturalists visited the island (3).

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Galapagos mockingbird conservation

There are currently no known conservation measures in place for the Galapagos mockingbird.

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Find out more

For further information on the conservation of the endemic flora and fauna of the Galápagos see:

For more information on this and other bird species please see:

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Authentication

Authenticated (01/07/09) by Paquita Hoeck, University of Zurich.
http://www.zm.uzh.ch/zmneu/englisch/forschung_e/forscher_e.php?id=23

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Glossary

Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Incubated
The act of keeping eggs warm so that development is possible.
Subspecies
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2008)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2005) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 10: Cuckoo-Shrikes to Thrushes. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. Robert L. Curry, Department of Biology, Villanova University (November, 2008)
    http://www.homepage.villanova.edu/robert.curry/
  4. Darwin, C.R. (1845) Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle round the world, under the Command of Capt. Fitz Roy, R.N. 2nd edition. John Murray, London.
  5. Charles Darwin Foundation. (2006) Charles Darwin Research Station Fact Sheet: Mockingbirds (Nesomimus spp). Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands (AISBL), Galapagos, Ecuador. Available at:
    http://www.darwinfoundation.org/files/species/pdf/mockingbird-en.pdf
  6. Hoeck, P. (2009) Pers. comm.
  7. Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
  8. Curry, R.L. and Anderson, D.J. (1987) Interisland variation in blood-feeding by Galapagos Mockingbirds. Auk, 104: 517 - 521.
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Image credit

Galapagos mockingbird perched on Opuntia cactus  
Galapagos mockingbird perched on Opuntia cactus

© Krystyna Szulecka / www.flpa-images.co.uk

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