The Northern mockingbird’s habitat varies by location, but it prefers open areas with sparse vegetation. In the eastern regions, suburban and urban areas such as parks and gardens are frequent residential areas. It has an affinity for mowed lawns with shrubs within proximity for shade and nesting. In western regions, desert scrub and chaparral are among its preferred habitats. When foraging for food, it prefers short grass. This bird does not nest in densely forested areas, and generally resides in the same habitats year round.
The plumage is generally light gray-brown and lighter and pinkish below. The wings have black spotting, and the outer tail feathers are white, contrasting with the black inners. Below the eye is a distinctive crescent-shaped area of dark feathers. The eyes are dark, with light skin surrounding them. The adult male has bright purple-pink patches on the neck sides, with light pink coloring reaching the breast. The crown of the adult male is a distinctly bluish-grey color. Females are similar in appearance, but with more brown coloring overall and a little smaller than the male. The iridescent feather patches on the neck above the shoulders are nearly absent, but can be quite vivid on males. Juvenile birds have a scaly appearance, and are generally darker.