Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spring Birds

What types of birds make this noise?

They do it all night long each spring!

EDIT: Thanks to my fine friends, the bird has been identified as a mockingbird!

This led me to do research on mockingbirds, and I now know it is a Northern Mockingbird which can be found all across the continental US, from coast to coast, Canada to Mexico.

They learn, or "mock", the sounds they hear around them to include other birds, cats, people, and even mechanical sounds! Typical mockingbirds learn 30 to 40 different sounds, though some learn as many as 200.

The rascals that chirp all night are the males who haven't found a mate yet. I guess female mocks love boisterous males. In any case, lots of great information can be found here at this website:

The comments that readers have posted at that site are fabulous! Some suggested using a watergun to chase them off, but a woman named Lori came up with an even better idea. Here is a sampling:

Bernie: "We have several mockingbirds that visit our house in Fredericksburg, VA. They very much enjoy the raisins I put in some of our feeders and the blackberry bushes near our two driveways. I’ve even found them to be quite playful with me, often gently “tagging” me on the arm or leg with a wing as they swoop past. They’ve even flown inside our garage (my workshop) to do this, then swooped right back out again. Last night though, things got a little crazy. I do construction for a living, and my truck has one of those “beep beep beep” backup alarms. One mock has started imitating this sound, and was perched on top of the truck doing it at 2:30 this morning. Then another mock started singing nearby, imitating the “chirp” sound of my Nextel phone. I joked with my girlfriend that if a woodpecker showed up the neighbors were going to think we had a construction job going on at night, with trucks backing up, walkie-talkies and jackhammers"

Liz: "I had the craziest experience with a mockingbird. Evidently, I was snoring loudly one night so my spouse woke me up. Minutes later he complained that I was again snoring. I told him I was awake and the noise was coming from outside the open window. I got up and sure enough, in the dark, our mockingbird was doing a great impression of my snoring. We had to close the window to get back to sleep. Needless to say, it was a little disturbing to know that I snored so loudly it attracted neighboring wildlife."

Will: "For several days this week I’ve been charmed by a mocking bird singing around one of the entrances to the building where I work at a university here. This critter can go indefinitely without repeating a pattern, except that each call is done twice, then on to the next.
You find yourself wondering, “When does this character ever take a breath?”
Then, in the middle of an extended cadenza of mimics consisting of sweet, melodious, and intricate musical gymnastics came two croaking squawks I later recognized as “grackle speak.”
I nearly fell down laughing, it was such an unexpected departure from the rest of the song."

Heather: "Interestingly, our local mockingbirds have learned to mimic my Jenday conure, who shrieks in a discordant and extremely loud voice when he wants attention. I first heard a mockingbird mimicking “Chili Pepper” early one morning as I went out to pick up the paper. Since Chili was still in “bed”, covered up in his cage, I was a bit confused. I quickly realized it was a mockingbird, who had learned his shriek, albeit at slightly reduced volume to account for the glass window he hears them through. It was amazing!
Since that day a couple of months ago, the first mockingbird appears to have passed on the new “song” to others in the area. We observed what had to be a young mockingbird learning songs from an older, much louder bird several houses away."

Sophia: "I am one of the people who are lucky enough to have a mockingbird outside of my window and be a light sleeper. I’m about to lose it on this bird. The houses here are so cheaply made that it sounds like I’m right next to it. The most I’ve done was squirt at the tree with the squirt bottle I train my puppy with. That quieted him for a little while. My neighbors suggested putting pepper in the 60ft tree. We are desperate. I know they are protected but how far can we go to attempt to quiet or noisy neighbor? and what time of day do they normally stop? i need to know so i can take a nap. It has gotten really bad for me because I am bipolar and lack of sleep is one of my triggers. I want to hurt everyone. PLEASE HELP ME!!! I’ll do anything. Even if it means climbing into a 60ft tree to put pepper in it.
P.S. My bird’s favorite sound to copy is a car alarm. thats real fun at 3 am."

Krissy: "We live in Las Vegas, Nevada. We have a mocking bird that has sits on top of a telephone pole in our backyard and gives an amazing concert for us every day. Our favorite is a meowing cat!!!! Our grandkids love it."

Mary: "My favorite mockingbird sounds are from a few that we experienced while living in California – the sound of seagulls as they fly away, the beeps that the streelight timers make to aid in crossing the street and, yes, a cat’s meow. Our new mocker in Florida is not quite as talented, but he is persistent. We’re verging on 6 weeks of almost constant singing! Any idea on how long this can last until he either mates or gives up?"

David: "I have aggressive mockingbirds in my yard. They had nests earlier in the year, but theyve all hatched,I think, and now its like theyre all juvenile delinquents chasing each other, buzzing peoples heads, chasing other birds away.It was suggested to me to put rubber snakes in the trees, and i heard mothballs.Its rough when you cant go out the front door without being attacked, or at least looking around to make sure its safe.My wife is fuming, even though I promised her that I didnt put them up to it.Im not hearing the singing as much as the fussing sounds, any help would be appreciated.I like the idea of the supersoaker watergun,but geez going out the door with a gun seems a bit much. David"

Lori: "A more humane method for ridding your yard of Mockingbirds? While spending time at my daughter’s home in Florida, we had our first nocturnal mockingbird experience. We enjoyed his first few hours of constant singing, but soon became weary from it. That is when my daughter placed her computer speakers in an open window, found a screeching Blue Jay sound file on the internet, and cranked up the volume. No more Mockingbird!"

Jennifer: "Mockingbirds near my mom’s house mock hawks and eagles all night long. When I lived there, they mocked my alarm clock sounds. They’re pretty neat little things. The other day when I was getting some stuff out of my car at midnight, a few of them dropped down to the ground and started making hawk noises, and then followed me to the sidewalk and watched when I went inside."

Charlene: "I swear that the mockingbird in my courtyard uses a “mike” to give his middle of the night concerts. His voice is so very loud (and beautiful). I think that if I were to be re-born it would have to be a mockingbird since the variety of song is so vast. How could you ever be bored?
I have personal favorites that are repeated but sometimes it takes quite a while which further impedes my sleep since I wait and wait, waking up my partner to hear what I happen to think is quite funny (he doesn’t see the humor). One is the mockingbird’s rendition of theme from “Rawhide” …..Rollin’….rollin’….rollin…keep those doggies rollin….’” and then he seems to be saying, “Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger, Cheese” I lay awake at night and wait for them to come around again.
I have heard other mockingbirds sing “Rawhide” and “cheeseburger.” It would be interesting to me to know if other mockingbird audiences find some of the same “songs” universal.

Jeff: "I live in a suburb in SE metro Phoenix, Arizona. A male bachelor Northern Mockingbird has taken up residence in the neighbor’s 40 foot tree. Unfortunately, our bedrooms are located on the the side of the house nearest to the tree. The bird is extremely loud, begins activity around midnight, and chirps a series of six different sounds, usually strung together in three or four chirps per sound.
The chirps are so repetitive and precise that, at first, my wife and I thought the neighbor had bought some mechanical bird chirping device and left it on. I went over to the tree (at 1am) and started talking loud enough that any ordinary bird would stop, but there was no break in the chirping. Then I stood directly under the tree and the noise stopped. But as soon as I walked away, the noise started again. Surely, a mechanical bird noise maker wouldn’t have a motion detector that stopped the chirps when motion was detected. I walked under the tree a couple more times. Each time, the chirps would stop and then start up again as soon as I walked away.
My wife and I were perplexed. Finally, I decided to give the tree a good shake. The chirping stopped, even after I walked away. Mystery solved… this was no bird device gone crazy, we were cursed by the bachelor mockingbird. The chirping temporarily stopped, but in the midst of the trial and error, we pissed off the neighbor’s five chihuahuas who were now barking up a storm. I’m not sure which noise is worse when you just can’t fall asleep. Time to have a strong drink and then crank up the humidifier which might dull the barking and chirping that assaults my senses. Perhaps in the morning, I’ll check on any last minute deals to Hawaii. Or maybe I should take my plastic garden owl and chuck it up in the tree to see if I can fool the bachelor into thinking he has found a mate."

Aaron: "I’ve noticed out here in AZ that mockingbirds don’t take no jive from anyone, even cats. I had an outdoor cat at my old house and there was a pair of mickingbirds that nested in the tree outfront (I think it was the same pair year after year, not sure) but they did not take kindly to him being around, they would dive bomb him daily especially during the spring and early summer. I came home one day and there was the poor cat huddled in a ball at the front door with a mockingbird on the left and one on the right each taking turns pecking at him and tearing hair out. My cat must have really ticked them off.
They also would make fun of my niece as she put it. My niece was only 5 or so and loved playing outside and she would always gt hurt and come in crying, and her crying is one of the most annoying loud sounds EVER. Well the mockingbirds started repeating the noise and it seemed that they associated it with her being outside. She started coming in crying saying “The bird is making fun of me”. We’d go outside and as soon as my niece was out there they would start making the same sound she did when she cried. It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard.
They also picked up the tune of the car alarms on the street and would sing them all the time."


GC said...

I live in Las Vegas and I eagerly await spring/summer each year when the birds start singing. I sit outside late at night and listen to these song birds music.
I find peace and serenity in their mocking music! God Bless the Birds.

J said...

I too love birds outside. Very soothing. But birds indoors - they drive me bonkers! Maybe being in a cage drives them bonkers and I can detect the stress in their song, I don't know. In any case, the mockingbird returned for the spring about a week ago. Welcome back, my friend.