Northern Mockingbird – Mississippi State Bird
Mississippi is a great place to watch and feed birds. Birdbaths, misters and drippers are especially effective in attracting birds, including non seed-eating species.
Species that might be expected at feeders include: American Goldfinch, Carolina Chickadee, Blue Jay, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Cardinal and Mourning Dove. Each of these species is shown in the Nifty Fifty mini-guide.
On this page
The Nifty Fifty Birds of Mississippi
The Nifty Fifty is a mini-guide to the birds of Mississippi. It includes descriptions, images, video and songs of 50 of the most often observed birds of Mississippi.
Developing bird-friendly habitat in your yard is the best way to attract a greater variety of species and to support local and migrating species. Native plants provide food and cover, are more insect and disease resistant than non-native species, and may require less water. A list of bird-friendly native plants for Mississippi are available by following the link on the left.
Bluebirds in Mississippi
The eastern bluebird is a permanent resident in Mississippi. Populations increase during the winter months as more northern populations move south for the winter.
The Eastern Bluebird has a pleasant, musical song and a similar easy-to-identify flight call. They are most often found in open woodlands, parks, fields, along golf courses and cemeteries. The can be found in suburban areas with adequate open space.
Bluebirds can be attracted to peanut butter mixes, suet and fruit. Raisins soaked in hot water to soften them are well received. The bluebird’s special favorite is mealworms.
In Mississippi, nesting commences in early spring and continues well into the summer. One or two broods may be produced each year.
Visit the bluebird section for detailed information on feeding bluebirds or building your own bluebird house.
Hummingbirds in Mississippi
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only species that regularly visits Mississippi. It nests in the state each year, before migrating south. It flies across the Gulf of Mexico twice each year.
Visit the hummingbird section for details on attracting hummingbirds as well as images of all regularly occurring North American hummingbirds.
Purple Martins in Mississippi
Purple Martins arrive in Mississippi in mid to late February, returning from their wintering grounds in South America. They are found througout the state. Open your martin houses in early February.
Detailed Purple Martin information is available in the Purple Martin section.
Purple Martins are one of America’s favorite birds. Their arrival each spring is a much heralded event in many backyards and their departure each fall marks the passing of another year for many. In the eastern U.S., Purple Martins nest almost exclusively in Purple Martin houses and gourds provided by man. In the west they nest more regularly in natural cavities.
Purple Martin Scouts
Scouts are the earliest arrivals each year. They are the oldest members of the population and head north each year to claim the best nesting locations. Scouts can be either male or female birds.
In Mississippi look for scouts to start arriving in early to mid-February. Martins move north as the weather warms and insect populations start to increase.
Purple Martins winter in South America. The journey can be as long as 5000 miles each way, each year! Martins follow at least three different paths as they return each spring. Some move through Mexico on their way to the West Coast. Others cross the Gulf of Mexico, leaving from the Yucatan Peninsula or take a route through the Caribbean islands to arrive in Florida.
Fall migration can start as early as mid-July in some parts of the country. In Florida migrants can be seen into September or October, with isolated reports even later in the the year. Prior to heading to South America, flocks of thousands of martins collect in roosts, some as large as hundreds of thousands of martins.
During the winter season these birds are apparently concentrated chiefly in the Amazon Valley of Brazil (Manaqueri, Barra do Rio Negro, and Itaituba) but are found in other parts of South America. A list of possible martin roosts in Alabama is available on the Purple Martin Conservation Association web site.
Martin nests typically have from five to six white eggs. One egg is laid each day at sunrise and no days are skipped until the egg-laying stops. Incubation lasts about 15 days but may last longer in cool weather. Purple martins fledge about 25-35 days after hatching.
Visit thePurple Martin section of the main Birdzilla Web site for information on martin houses, attracting purple martins and becoming a good purple martin landlord.
From the Bent Life Histories
Finally, here’s a glimpse at what noted ornithologist Alexander Sprunt Jr. said about purple martins in the Bent Life History series:
“It has always seemed to me that literature has been somewhat chary of the purple martin. Song and story have long stressed the advent of robin, bluebird, and goose as heralds of spring, and so they are, but is the martin any less so? True, it comes somewhat later than these others, but who can fail to thrill when, on waking early one morning, one hears the rich, gurgling calls of the first martin! It is a signal that spring is really at hand, indeed, at one’s very door. When the martins come, can summer be far behind? This largest of the swallows, in its handsomely glossy livery, whether slurred by literature or not, has ken a favorite with humanity for many generations. Even before the White man came to America’s shores it was a dooryard bird in Indian villages, and its status as such is unchanged today. It is, beyond all doubt, the “bird-box” species of this country. Its range is extensive, almost universal indeed, and it occurs from coast to coast and border to border. Young and old admire it, encourage it, and protect it, and those who have a word of criticism for it are few and far between. Alexander Wilson said that, in his day, he never found but one man who disliked the martin, and many a modern ornithologist will have had the same experience, if indeed it can be matched! Some birds occupy high pedestals in human regard, typified by the robin in the North and the mockingbird in the South, but in North and South the purple martin comes and goes as a welcome arrival and regretful departure; an always invited avian neighbor. Few are those anywhere who would fail to subscribe heartily to the wish: may its tribe increase.” (Mr. Sprunt and Mr. Wilson are two of America’s best known and most respected early ornithologists.)
Mississippi provides birders with a variety of exciting birding locations.
The birding section of this site has tips on birding locations and bird identification. The state-based birding information section provides additional birding related information.
Mississippi Resource Information
Jackson Audubon Society
5120 Reddoch Dr
Clinton, MS 39211
Mississippi Coast Audubon Society
Vancleave, MS 39565
Okatibbee Creek Audubon Society
7824 Hwy 493
Meridian, MS 39305
Oktibbeha Audubon Society
195 Autumn Trail
Columbus, MS 39705
Pine Woods Audubon Society
544 W 4th St
Hattiesburg, MS 39401
Mississippi Birding Festivals
Hummingbird Migration Celebration
Usually in September
Holly Springs, Mississippi
Each fall thousands of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds migrate from Canada through Mississippi to their wintering home in Central America. Like a river, these birds are on the move daily through the fields and woods of Strawberry Plains. The gardens are thick with hummingbirds feeding at flowers and feeders to fatten up for their long journey south. Join hummingbird scientists and naturalists at Strawberry Plains Audubon Center to witness this spectacular migratory event. Look close and learn while these tiny birds are caught and banded right before your eyes. Some folks may be lucky enough to release one back into the wild.
Mississippi River Nature Weekend : August
An exciting family festival for the outdoor adventurist, both young and seasoned. Activities include guided birding tours, sunset birding excursions, boating, nature trails, nighttime music, meals, and more. Day passes and weekend packages available. Weekend packages include lodging, food, activities, and seminars. The festival is highlighted by the Wading Bird Migration in the Mississippi Flyway. We are adjacent to the Mississippi River and have an excellent rookery to view.
Stork & Cork Mississippi River Birding Festival
Usually in August
Tara Wildlife , Vicksburg, Mississippi
Birding trails, car caravan tours, roosting sites, island birding party & fossil hunt, sandbar hikes, nightly speakers. BIRDS: Wood storks, white pelicans, bald eagles, ospreys, white ibis, least terns, raptors, swallows, possible roseate spoonbills, all sorts of wading birds & neotropicals including painted buntings and other neat stuff. Tara Wildlife is a 17,300 acre private foundation situated on the mighty Mississippi River and founded by Maggie Bryant, renowned international conservationist and former chairman of The National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.
Tara Spring Birding Weekend : May
Weekend of excellent birdwatching during spring migration of songbirds and more in the Mississippi Flyway. Both casual birding opportunities with organized birding tours led by seasoned birders. Enjoy a tour on our open air bus or walk the nature trails through the woodlands to the wetland areas where you can view waterfowl and wading birds. Adjacent to the Mississippi River