Chilean Mockingbird Mimus thenca Scientific name definitions

Natacha González, Vicente Pantoja, Maria Jesus S. Mallea, Matías Garrido, Antoine Touret, Angélica Almónacid, Heraldo V. Norambuena, and Fernando Medrano
Version: 2.0 — Published March 3, 2023


Identification Summary

The Chilean Mockingbird is the commonest mockingbird present in central and southern Chile. Sexes are alike, with males slightly larger than females, but measurements are not useful for sex allocation (1). The most noticeable field marks include a black malar stripe, conspicuous white brow, and distinctive dark streaks in the flanks. Differential diagnosis should exclude White-banded Mockingbird (Mimus triurus) and Patagonian Mockingbird (Mimus patagonicus) in Argentina and Chile, and Chalk-browed Mockingbird (Mimus saturninus) in Argentina.

Field Identification

A large brownish mockingbird with a long tail, and long and thick bill. Broad whitish supercilium. Brownish-gray above. Darker streaks on the head, neck, and back. Rump browner but northern birds generally paler (see Geographic Variation). Upperwing coverts have whitish tip forming two narrow wingbars. Wings blackish. Tail feathers with white tips (except central pair). Outer rectrices with white edges. Rest of the wing feathers are blackish. Throat whitish. Brownish-black malar stripes. Underparts are lighter brownish-gray, becoming dirty white on the belly. Flanks buffy brown with elongated blackish stripes.

Similar Species

White-banded Mockingbird (Mimus triurus): this species is now considered a scarce but regular migrant in central and southern Chile, especially from March to October (2). Due to the coveted status of this species by the Chilean birding community, attention always needs to be paid to mockingbirds in Central-South Chile. In Argentina, it is possible to expect some overlapping in their distribution due to the range expansion of the Chilean Mockingbird. Notable features of the White-banded Mockingbird include the white patches on the wings and external tail feathers. These are more visible during flight. Additionally, look for a lack of streaked flanks and marked malar stripes.

Patagonian Mockingbird (Mimus patagonicus) is one of the commonest Mimus in the Neuquén area in Argentina. While in Chile, Patagonian Mockingbird appears in the Chilean Mockingbird range as a vagrant. Similarly, the Chalk-browed Mockingbird (Mimus saturninus) is common in Neuquén, while it has been recorded in Chile. As both species are quite similar, these can be differentiated from the Chilean Mockingbird due to smooth malar stripes and the lack of streaks on the flanks.

Recommended Citation

González, N., V. Pantoja, M. J. S. Mallea, M. Garrido, A. Touret, A. Almónacid, H. V. Norambuena, and F. Medrano (2023). Chilean Mockingbird (Mimus thenca), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (N. D. Sly, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.chimoc1.02