Natural Sightings #558 - Mockingbird and House Sparrow.jpeg

A male House Sparrow and a Northern Mockingbird appear to have a little dispute.

Erika Hoenisch Elliot took this photo of a male House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) and a Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) having a little dispute at a bird feeder. Actually, it looks like the Mockingbird on the right is the one with the issue, while the little House Sparrow looks on calmly with some bird seed visible in its bill.

House Sparrows were first introduced into the U.S. from Europe in 1851, and with a couple of other releases, it spread into all the lower 48 states. As its name suggests, it is associated with houses and other places of human activity — parks, boardwalks, outdoor cafes, etc.

Mockingbirds, on the other hand, are native birds but they seem to have benefited from the expansion of humans into most parts of the U.S. They are not typically birds of the wildest regions, but are more common in mixed areas of farmland, suburban yards, parks and similar habitats.

Mockingbirds typically eat insects all summer, and switch to fruits and berries in the fall and winter. The fact that this one was visiting a birdfeeder is somewhat unusual because seeds aren't their favorite food, but in times of scarcity they eat what they can.

House Sparrows tend not to be easily intimidated, because they usually live in flocks with other House Sparrows, as well as in close proximity with other songbirds, so squabbling and competition are nothing new to them. You can sometimes encounter them on Southern California piers and beachfronts, competing with much larger pigeons and gulls for food scraps and handouts.

NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: editorial@tehachapinews.com.