The Bird Who Sings All Night

Northern mockingbird, singing with wing flash (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Northern mockingbird, singing and wing flashing (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

21 June 2016

This month someone in my neighborhood complained he was kept awake at night by birds singing loudly in the dark.  Every song was different so he thought it was a variety of birds.  Who was making that racket?  It was only one northern mockingbird.

Mockingbirds are well known for nocturnal singing.  The majority of those who do it are lonely bachelors trying to attract a female.  They belt out their songs as loudly as possible in all directions and they prefer to do it at the most aggravating time for humans — midnight to 4:00am.  Studies have shown they sing more on moonlit nights and in well-lit areas.  Woe to city and suburban dwellers near street lights!

The video below, recorded at 2:00am, is understandably dark. The bird is exceptionally loud.

Mockingbird singing at night (video embedded from SevereTStormFan on YouTube)

Over at my house there’s a mockingbird who’s definitely lonely!  Will he ever stop?

Birds of North America Online says:  “Typically, adults sing for approximately three fourths of the year (Feb through Aug, and late Sep to early Nov); occasionally sing during winter. … No nocturnal song occurs during the fall.”

So we wear earplugs to bed and pray that the mockingbird finds a mate.  Or we’ll have to wait until August.

(photo from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original. Mockingbird audio by SevereTStormFan on YouTube)

16 thoughts on “The Bird Who Sings All Night

  1. This brings back memories of waiting to catch a bus from Swissvale to Pitt at 4:40am while in nursing school years ago. On those cold dark winter mornings it was me and the lovely song of a mockingbird. He sat on top of a light pole next to the busway. Pure serenity in preparation for a hectic day.
    He or his offspring have made my neighborhood their home. They love the mulberries! I love the mockingbirds!

  2. Oh my, the same thing happened to me about 2 weeks ago! It had me puzzled! It sang all night and like you said, it was a different tune everytime. Thanks for clearing up the mystery. He finally moved on to another neighborhood.

  3. Years ago, before cell phone videos, we had a mockingbird in our neighborhood who could do a perfect rendering of the first 8 notes of the theme from “the Sting”. People would wonder why that stupid ice cream truck was out there at 2:00 A.M.

  4. I wish I had a mocking bird near my house. That wouldn’t bother me in the least – in fact its kind of relaxing. At times it sounds like spring peeper frogs that I listened to all the while I was growing up.

  5. Up early one summer morning here in San Francisco I had the pleasure of being serenaded by both foghorns– did I mention that it was “summer” in San Francisco?– and a mockingbird. It was beautiful.

  6. What is the who sings at night when it sees someone, in our country it is called “did you see it,” because that is what it says.

  7. Hi! a mocking bird comes to my kitchen windowsill in Brooklyn — I live on the third floor of a tenement and it comes to the fire escape where I feed cracker crumbs to birds of the backyards—there are bluebirds and their babies, starlings, doves, common sparrows, a small black bird with a white belly (?) and a cardinal couple, but they never come to my windowsill. The problem is that the mockingbird, who now answers to the name Pepino, has chased all the other birds away, he keeps watch and swoops down whenever he sees any near the crumbs. I am sorry, especially for the baby bluebirds. Is there anything I can do? It’s a small fire escape, so I can’t set up separate feeding spaces.

    1. What you’re seeing is a personality trait of northern mockingbirds which all the other birds know about. They move away, watch and wait for him to leave. If he is there during spring/summer (you mention baby birds) then he has included your fire escape as part of his nesting territory and will dive-bomb everything including humans to keep them away, too. If this happened during winter, he *might* be from an area further north and just visiting for the winter — in which case he will leave in March/April for his nesting territory. Since you don’t have other spaces to draw him away he will be there for as long as he wants to be. The good news is that he is very interesting to watch.

  8. I have one right now, that is keeping awake at night . I had to skip work because I needed some rest. I haven’t been able to sleep for the past 3 days. Is driving me crazy. Is impressive how persistent they are with they’re singing. But is also very annoying.

  9. I’ve always found their belting pretty calming especially at that time of night mostly because I can’t hear the neighbors, loud music from passing cars, helicopters, etc. Also, it tends to be pretty cool at night and I don’t have to worry about the sun.

  10. There is a Mockingbird who incessantly graces me with his songs each summer night right up until the early morning hours. When I listen to him, I get a real kick out of the seemingly endless repertoire of bird and insect noises he mocks, especially when he imitates the Blue Jay. I am retired from work so I can enjoy his music all night without having to set the alarm clock.

  11. I have a mocking bird in my tree o live in az . I’ve had him for two years now. He always chips and sings. It’s really beautiful I used to get so annoyed when he started singing around 4am. But I eventually grew to liking it and told myself a beautiful bird chose your house and Noone else’s to sing you should feel special. Now on the days he sings in the am. I have learned to turn on a fan to mild out his tunes.

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