To Not-Quite-Kill a Mockingbird
UPDATE 5/1/2012: I’ve received many comments on this blog-posting, some lauding me as a hero, others vilifying me for tormenting these poor, fragile birds. I sincerely wish everyone luck in ridding their nights (and days) of this scourge. Cheers. -Todd
It’s been over a month of sleeplessness for me and my wife (and I have to assume my neighbors). But no one has had the guts to deal with the problem.
The ‘problem’ is a foe so diabolical, he’s driven many to near-insanity. Like thousands of other Brooklynites this summer, my arch-enemy for the last month has been a 3-ounce lightweight that packs a big, audible punch: the northern mockingbird [Fig. 1]. But tonight I say “enough”; I will no longer let this bastard control my life. Tonight is the night I bring the beatdown.
Here’s some audio I captured (with commentary) so you can get a taste of this special li’l fella’s song–often said to resemble a car alarm in its incessant and varied song.
He goes off like clockwork every night at 11:40pm. His warm-up consists of a ‘blaaat’ sound similar to a flatulating Model T, then he adds a little musical flourish to the end. But that’s just the teaser to let you know he’s out there, ready to party. The northern mockingbird doesn’t make a peep again until 12:45am then sings all through the night until–wait for it–5am. You’re thinking, “bullsh*t.” Bulltrue. Just one look at those beady little eyes in the pic above and you know who rules the roost. Hint: he does.
So I asked for some help from my old pal The Internet. Search “Kill and Mockingbird” and obviously the results revolve around the book and author Harper Lee. Beyond that, there’s really only one page with remotely relevant information, but the guy’s such a bird-loving pacifist, you get no useful tips on how to get rid of it.
“Without a doubt, losing sleep because a Mockingbird is singing at night is no fun. The answer to this problem is to change our own behavior and not the birds…a step you can take is to move your sleeping quarters to another room in your house.
Remember, he is trying to attract a mate, his song is a courting song. If we stop to consider… we may remember what kind of nuisance we once were, when we went a-courting”
I’m sorry, but when you use the phrase “went a-courtin,” I’ve lost all respect for you. But that’s the least of my issues with this person’s post. The solution is that I can “move my sleeping quarters”? Oh right, I have so many choices when it comes to bedrooms in our one-bedroom apartment. The internet let me down, it was time to earn a new merit badge all on my own: Mockingbird Hunter.
Preparations for Battle
So how to rid the communal backyard of our mutual foe while everyone else pretended to sleep? BB Gun? After much thought, it’d be a random shot without the assistance of night vision or infrared goggles. Besides, when I knock out a couple of windows and permanently blind a child, a bird is the least of my problems. Flamethrower? No longer available at my local hardware store. Jumping into the tree in a flailing rage? There’s more of a chance of impaling myself on a branch than achieving my goal. What’s the humane yet most-likely-to-succeed approach? It was so obvious: a concentrated blast of water. Time to suit up:
HOSE provided by Landlord who was also losing sleep for over a month [√]
Then it was time to wait. And that wouldn’t take long if I knew my adversary.
The Night of Reckoning
Just like clockwork at 11:40pm, the villain cleared his throat. My wife said, “Here he goes again.” I replied in a flinty tone, “No, he’s teasing us.” An hour later at 12:45, right on his regular schedule, he began his first ‘set.’ I got up, slipped on my sandals, and headed out to the roof.
I triangulated the bird’s position with my finely-tuned senses and pointed the nozzle as close to the sweet-spot as I could figure. Moments after the first burst of water sprung forth from the mighty howitzer, I saw a shadow on the neighboring building wall–a tiny form, small as a bumblebee–rise up and fly off. I couldn’t believe it: one blast of water did it after a month of tyranny? Was victory truly at hand? [see Fig. 2]
As I returned to bed from battle, my wife lay silent next to me, unstirred. No ticker tape parade for this hero. No medals or keys to the city (much less neighborhood). But in my elation, I couldn’t let the moment pass, so I nudged her and asked, “Do you hear that?”
She replied, “Hear what?”
I said satisfied: “Exactly.”
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