Friday, March 20, 2009

To hear a mockingbird

I think it was many years ago that I first heard the call of the mockingbird. I was lying in bed, trying to sleep, when I suddenly realized there was a strange noise coming from outside. I wasn't sure if it had just started, or if it had been going for hours. For all I knew, I could have been hearing that same sound every night for my whole life, and never noticed it. But for whatever reason, I noticed it this night.

At first, I had no idea what it was. Why is there a bird singing in the middle of the night? Do birds do that? And its call was very distinctive. It would tweet one way three or four times in a row, then it would tweet another way three or four times in a row. And then it would tweet another way, and another way, never repeating itself. So I suddenly realized, it's one of those mockingbirds I've heard so much about!

I recall that in To Kill a Mockingbird, there was a single reference to mockingbirds:

"Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

But Miss Maudie! There's a mockingbird nearby that's always singing its heart out at 2:00 am. It's pretty loud too. Maybe if its call weren't so interesting to listen to, I would mentally block it out like I do with the freeway noises, but as is, I think it's cutting into my sleep! (Not that I would ever shoot at it...)


DeralterChemiker said...

That's the male singing all night long in the mating season! It starts in March or April and lasts a couple of months. I have always wondered if they ever sleep at this time of the year.

Anonymous said...

They are called mockingbirds because they are supposed to be imitating, or mocking, other kinds of birds. They do sound much like various other birds, but I have always wondered whether they do learn their calls from other kinds of birds.

Rouxlette said...

I have one outside going through his entire repetoire of car alarms, police sirens and telephone rings and it is only 12:30 am.. I am well versed in animal behavior and found it odd a mocking bird was outside singing his little heart out in the middle of the night trying to woo the females. At first I toyed with thinking nah.. perhaps it was just a loose cockatiel or small parrot who could easily have the vacob and messed up internal clock..but after a few minutes of internet search I find that no, it is a male trying to find a mate. From where he is broadcasting we have a huge church steeple all lit up like daylight. Funny little fella has his clock all screwed up. He may be too late to find a date, but at least he is early for church !

Anonymous said...

My neighborhood has wayyy too many single males. And active times are 12:30 to 5am!! Sun comes up and they go to sleep. Trying everything but might be getting a night scope with a pellet gun or something. This must stop

Unknown said...

I just moved here, Maybelle Ave, Oakland CA, September 2008. This 24-hour year-round, so far, singing mockingbird would occasionally pick up my monotone whistle & would come close to a nearby tree in the death of night and sing its heart out.It carries on even in the winter, but quits when it rains, day or night.

Peter T
June 18,2009 237A