(Wanting) to kill a mockingbird

“It’s like listening to a Fox News panel discussion, only with birds,” I told Mr. Brooks, trying to describe the nightly ruckus that had begun recently. “There’s one that sounds like a feeble cricket, one that sounds like a high-pitched car alarm, one godawful screecher, and one that sings — really loud. And they just keep shouting at each other all night.”

On the first night, I assumed the offenders would just die down after a while — don’t birds sleep at night? But the sounds continued long enough that even after I had fallen asleep, they affected my dreams: I was living in Bodega Bay, the fictional town of “The Birds.” No attacks were part of my dreams, which stayed in the “holy crap there are a lot of birds around” scenarios much like pictured at right. I remembered the dream the next morning, but not the previous night’s actual serenades; I just thought I had a weird dream.

Until around 11:30 that night, when the noises kicked in again. “That screeching bird sounds just like the ones in the movie!” I realized. “No wonder you dreamed about them all night.” So I went digging for some foam earplugs, which I’ve had since my newspaper days; the pressmen used them to guard their hearing during the press run, and I would surreptitiously lift a pair or two to take home for occasions just like this.

They’re moody little bastards — to really block the noise you’ve got to insert them so they expand into the ear canal, not poking out of it. A millimeter or two too far and you’re left with sore ears. A millimeter or two too far the other way and they don’t work — and the next morning you wake up with them somewhere in the bed, so you get to go on the lamest treasure hunt ever while you try to track two down two of them (one of which you’ve usually slept atop, so it’s squished into oblivion like the one above).

Mr. Brooks, who works overnight shifts at a hospital, thought I was exaggerating. He remembered a bird that used to live in our neighbors’ giant tree —which had been cut down, as you might remember — so it would make sense it would look for lodging elsehwere. But he didn’t remember it being anywhere as raucous as I was making it out to be.

Until he had two nights off. The first text came at 12:39 a.m.: “The bird lives in the tree in the front yard … oh my God … so loud.” And, at 5:27 a.m.: “By the way … all those sounds you hear … he makes them all.” The bird had kept him up most of the night — so much so that Mr. Brooks went outside to face down this demon.

Photographer Steve Creek captured this shot of a northern mockingbird. (Click on photo to go to Steve’s website.)

It’s a mockingbird. I knew the birds mimicked other noises — thus the name, I’m assuming? — but I didn’t know they had such a range. (Click here to listen to a recording of one in Georgia.) Knowing that, I wonder why the hell in the song “Papa” would think that that buying his “hush little baby” one of these demons would be a good idea. That’s something you’d do to someone you don’t like, not your own flesh and blood. Rude!

All About Birds says that most mockingbirds that sing at night are unmated males. So basically our front yard fiend is a bachelor who’s on the hunt for some (feathered) tail. I guess that doesn’t make him that different from humans, who’ve also been known to stay up late looking for some easy companionship. Knowing that, I’m trying to cut him some slack, hoping that if he settles down, he’ll … settle down.

WHAT SAM WORE: 5-29-12
The shirt and tie: Long-sleeved slim-fit cotton shirt and silk tie by Calvin Klein,
from the outlet store in Anthem.
The pants: Trousers by Ted Baker, from the store in Soho.
(These pants, to be exact.)
The shoes: Loafers by Prada, from Last Chance.

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