What can I do about a bird that sings all night long outside my window?

April 19, 2009
Northern Mockingbirds are prolific songsters who, on occasion, will sing all night. Photo by Cleber Ferreira via Birdshare. Northern Mockingbirds are prolific songsters who, on occasion, will sing all night. Photo by Cleber Ferreira via Birdshare.
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The Northern Mockingbird is typically the culprit in these all-night song marathons. Mockingbirds that sing all night long tend to be young, still-unattached males or older males who have lost their mate, and so the best way to shut him up is to entice a female mockingbird to your yard, too. He’s already doing his best to accomplish this, though to the disappointment of both of you, he’s not succeeded yet.

One thing that very well might work would be to cover your tree with bird netting—the kind sold in gardening stores to keep birds out of fruit trees. You’ll need to check on it occasionally, since sometimes tiny birds get entangled in it, but you can do that in the daytime after a good night’s sleep. And maybe by sending your bird elsewhere, you can sleep and he can be more effective in attracting a mate.

I don’t know if it will help to know that the mockingbird was Thomas Jefferson’s favorite bird. He wrote a lot about its amazing mimicry abilities and songs, and how England had nothing to compare with it, in his Notes on the State of Virginia. He also had a pet mockingbird named Dick who lived in the White House.

Robert Frost’s poem, “A Minor Bird,” will be less than consoling, seeming rather judgmental for someone who just wants a decent night’s sleep:

I have wished a bird would fly away,
And not sing by my house all day;

Have clapped my hands at him from the door
When it seemed as if I could bear no more.

The fault must partly have been in me.
The bird was not to blame for his key.

And of course there must be something wrong
In wanting to silence any song.

Because of course there must be something right about wanting a decent sleep at night.

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