EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Don't mess with Texas...or our state bird. University of Florida researchers say Mockingbirds seem to have an uncanny ability to tell people apart, and then react. Not always in a good way. This lone star trait may be unique to the lone star bird.
Ask anyone who's ever been attacked by one...
"One came down and it swooped and pecked me on the head," said Samantha Haltom. "I think, like five or six times."
Mockingbirds are not always the nicest birds.
"Maybe it's a territorial thing," said Haltom. "That's what I'm thinking."
Or maybe it's the result of some post bird stress. Seems a researcher studying nesting habits made one trip too many to a mockingbird nest. After a couple of days, the birds began squawking and squealing and attacking. While ignoring everyone else around her.
"They're pretty rowdy," said Tomianna Hutcheson, a Caldwell Zoologist. "I've seen them go after some squirrels that get too close to their trees."
It's all birds, all the time for Hutcheson. She says animals - including birds - are normally very in-tune with their surroundings.
"Other birds, I'm sure, they attack, but they may attack any potential threat they might see, not just specific people," said Hutcheson.
It's an unusual observation for our state songbird. Researchers went so far to bring in more people, men, women, old, and young with long hair and short to visit more nests. After a couple of days of the same thing, the researchers, wearing different clothes, were attacked while other people went by, peck-free.
Hutcheson says it's every animal's duty to survive, protect it's young and pass on those genes. But...
"I think the recognition factor with Mockingbirds might be solely to the Mockingbirds," said Hutcheson.
So, it's best to just stay on its good side.
Researches say past studies tried to figure out if birds could choose between people or photos of people, typically for a food reward. They say this time research was different because the Mockingbirds had to pick out the same person in different clothes.