Atticus Finch told his daughter, Scout, “Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” in Harper Lee’s great American novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.
But I wonder if ol’ Atticus ever suffered sleep deprivation because of one of those noisy birds.
The last few nights here at Mama’s Empty Nest, it hasn’t exactly been quiet. We’re enjoying some summer-like weather and sleeping with bedroom windows thrown wide open. Fresh air streams in and I usually sleep well because of it.
But right after I settle into my comfy bed, punch up my pillow just the way I like it, close my eyes, whisper my nightly prayers, listen to the steady whoosh of hubby’s CPAP machine and prepare to nod off to dreamland, it starts. Noisy, raucous bird calls.
The first night this happened, a strange sound outside caused my eyes to flutter open. What odd animal was making that noise? Then I heard a bird chirp…and chirp….and chirp. Next came a “chuck, chuck, chuck” kind of sound followed by what I thought must be a bird trilling.
“What the heck is going on out there?” I thought.
Why were those crazy birds singing so late at night? Our calico kitty was safely snuggling indoors for the night, so it couldn’t be her presence causing the birds’ tizzy. Was there some animal threatening their nests or what?
Every time I closed my eyes and thought I’d nod off, I heard the sounds again. Over and over and over it lasted, keeping me on the edge of sleep but never really able to dive into that restful, deep sleep until early morning.
Upon awakening, I asked hubby if he heard the odd chorus of the night. He did notice it but then drifted off easily as he is prone to do. Lucky man. He falls asleep effortlessly and I must admit I envy his ability to do that.
The next night at bedtime, we opened our windows once again. Within seconds, hubby fell asleep while I listened to another nocturnal crescendo of loud chirps, squawks, cheeps and trills. It sounded like I was in the middle of the jungle or at the very least the zoo!
Hour after hour, the cacophony of sound continued. Being one of those unfortunate people who does not fall asleep easily, I tossed and turned while the never-ending racket continued. I ventured to the window, looked out, saw nothing but darkness and continued hearing the din. I wanted to yell loudly, “Would you just SHUT UP?!” But I feared I’d scare my sleeping husband.
After my second mostly sleepless night, I did what anyone would do the next morning – I googled “What kind of bird makes noise all night long?” The answer: the Northern Mockingbird.
I’m not much of a bird-watcher, although I do marvel at winged creatures soaring through the air and perching here and there in the trees. During the daylight hours, I love hearing the birds sing in my yard, especially as I awaken in the morning.
But the one-bird party this mockingbird was hosting deprived me of my much beloved sleep. And I couldn’t believe how many different sounds the mockingbird makes because, according to what I read at allaboutbirds.org (Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology’s website), these birds add new sounds to their repertoire throughout their little bird lives.
“If you’ve been hearing an endless string of 10 or 15 different birds singing outside your house, you might have a Northern Mockingbird in your yard,” this website advised me. “A male may learn around 200 songs throughout its life.”
Two hundred songs!!! No wonder it sounded like a bird aviary outside my bedroom window! Apparently, there was one noisy male mockingbird causing all the commotion.
Now that I’ve discovered information about my loud visitor, I’ve become accustomed to his nightly warbling and I’m falling asleep easier, but sometimes I catch myself singing, “Mock – yeah. Ing – yeah. Bird – yeah. Mocking Bird, now everybody have you heard, he’s gonna buy me a mockingbird….” with visions of James Taylor and Carly Simon in my head.
Yes, you are so welcome that now you too have that song planted in your brain! But if you’d rather hear a sample of our nocturnal serenade, you can listen to this:
Tonight, in Chapter 5, Page 28, of my book called Opportunity, I’ll open my bedroom window and listen for the mockingbird. But now that I’ve become familiarized to his wild repertoire, I’ll let him sing me to blissful sleep.
“Then from the neighboring thicket the mockingbird, wildest of singers, Swinging aloft on a willow spray that hung o’er the water. Shook from his little throat such floods of delirious music, That the whole air and the woods and the waves seemed silent to listen.”~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in Evangeline