Friday, June 27, 2014

Taking Mr. Top 40 down




Mimus polyglottos, how I loathe thee!

Oh, computerized chess games may seem relentless. 

The IRS.

Sharks.  They never sleep.  Or at least that’s what their press agents want you to believe.

But on a cool summer’s night, when you have the windows open to a luscious breeze; when you’ve just drifted off with a hint of a smile and begun to float in dreamland.  Just then, just at that perfect moment, there’s nothing quite so ruthless as a mockingbird. 

Like Santa, he knows when you are sleeping.  That’s his cue to take the stage at treetop, just out of reach of your super-soaker.  I imagine he feels glorious up there as he drinks in the moonlit panorama from his vantage point.  And so, he draws a deep birdy breath and begins to “sing.”

An unmated male is the likely culprit.  Figures.  Like a drunken Romeo he prattles on as though he can win the heart of his Juliet with a continuous loop of tunes from around the ‘hood.  Second verse?  Same as the first!

His performance plays like the demo tape of a tribute band.  Nothing original.  Eight bars of everything from warbler to car alarm.  All of it in brass. 

Initially, we put his appearance down to the super moon.  You know, that dazzling full moon that rose on Friday the 13th.  The one that moved wolves to howl and the undead to stir and walk their funky walk.  That one.


We supposed it motivated him too.  Mr. Mocker.  And like Foghorn Leghorn, he reckoned he’d better announce what looked to him like the start of the day.  And announce.  And announce.  And announce.

That morning, after thrashing his way through the night, twisting the sheets and stuffing his pillows into his ears, my husband stood bedside and glared at me with an expression that, try as I might, I cannot unsee.  Eyes bloodshot, hair disheveled, he swayed on his feet, pointing toward me as though I were the one who squawked through the wee morning hours. 

“I’m going to get that bird,” he declared.

I actually have a grudging appreciation for this avian blowhard.  According to Chris Clarke, natural history writer and environmental journalist, male mockingbirds can learn as many as 200 distinct songs.  If only they wouldn’t sing them all!

Having a mockingbird in your yard is somewhat akin to having a batch of teenage girls in the car who know all the words to all the songs.  And you’re driving to Nevada. 

Changing stations won’t solve the problem.  They can pick up in the middle of whatever the airwaves toss out.  With gusto.  Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall…ninety-nine bottles of beer!

My own personal theory is that mockingbirds suffer from low self-esteem.  Why else would they try so hard to sound like some other bird, any other bird, but themselves?  Poor, poor feathered fellows!

Another thing in their favor is that female and male mockingbirds fearlessly defend their nests this time of year, dive-bombing cats and birds of prey, even humans if they’re perceived to be interested in climbing a tree and bringing home a clutch of speckled eggs to scramble up with some Jimmy Dean sausage.

But none of that offsets a sleepless night for my beloved.  No.  He’s tired and cranky and he will have his revenge.

I reminded him that most of the things he is willing to try aren’t worth the jail time:  His potato launcher might be effective, but the ammunition has to come down somewhere on the other end of the arc, where our neighbors live with their beloved pets and small children. 



His Red Ryder carbine-action, 200-shot, range model air rifle with the compass in the stock, though technically a toy, is most likely illegal to fire in city limits.  And will, as you certainly know, shoot his eye out.

So I’m surprising him with a plastic owl ‘scare crow,’ some SureFire EP3 Sonic Defender Earplugs and a white noise machine. 

If that doesn’t work, I’ll aim my iPhone at the offender and unleash my iBirdPro app’s recorded screeches of an eagle.  

From there I can go to scaffolding and a pressure washer.


Mr. Top 40 thinks he’s relentless?  He doesn’t know relentless.