Sunday, March 19, 2006

My Fine, Feathered Friend

He's hard to see, but look very closely at the street light. See that little thing on the top of the light? That, my friend, is a bird. A mockingbird, to be exact. Why do I point this out? Because this little fellow has winged his way into a special place in my heart.

You see, this little guy sings. He sings like no other bird that I have ever noticed before. His notes are piped all over our homes, backyards, and through our windows with such clarity, passion and unbridled joy! His repretoire is beyond amazing and so varied... he seldom repeats a song!

Still wondering why I point this out to the world? It's because...

He does his singing...
at night.
Pitch-black nighttime.
Two-in-the-morning nighttime.
Nobody-is-up nighttime.

I first noticed this little guy two springs ago. I was tossing in bed, trying to fall back to sleep. It was one of those beautiful spring evenings when you open the windows wide and sleep with a cool night breeze brushing your cheek. As I lay there in psuedo-slumber, trying to return to my dreams, I took notice that all was not quiet. I realized that I heard a bird. A singing bird. In the middle of the night. In the dark. At first I thought that perhaps the little guy had errantly received a shot of caffine by partaking of someone's double-mocha-two-percent-americano-espresso that they had left on a patio table or something. I mean, why else would any diurnal (that means 'daytime') creature even be up at this time?! I lay there for a good half-hour listening to his clear, sharp trills as they drifted through the cool, night air. How funny, I thought.

What was funny, though, was that the next night, he was back...singing his aria with just as much passion and gusto! "This can't be!", I thought. No bird sings in the middle of the night... again! This guy has his days and nights totally mixed up! But he did sing. And he continued to.

And I continued to listen.
And enjoy.
And follow his songs and their individual stories.

I was so captivated by this oddity, that I mentioned it to a teammate at work one day. She told me that it was probably a mockingbird; a bird with a strong determination, a bit of orneriness for good measure and the ability to mimick and sing a plethora of songs heard from other birds among it.

As the nights went by, I lay in bed listening to him sing and sing and sing....for hours each night!
He never seem to tire, or take a break, or just give up after a few minutes and head off to nest himself. I pictured him sitting in the mesquite tree in my neighbor's yard - cloaked among the branches and leaves. But I discovered that that wasn't his stage. His stage was the top of a street light. And not only was my buddy serenading our little neighborhood, he was also dancing - every few minutes, he would jump up about a foot or so, flail out his wings and then float back down to his spot. I had never seen this behavior before, and I wasn't sure why he was doing this, so I watched him for a while to make sure I really was seeing this display! He continued his song and dance routine as I drove off to work early in the morning.

This scene when on nightly, not daily, but nightly for several months. At times, I was worried for him...worried that some neighbor might be so bothered by this nightly performance that they would try to put an end to my buddy's solos. I was afraid that what I considered to be a gift and a treat would be viewed by someone else as a noisy disturbance and nuisance that needed to be silenced. But, luckily, that has never happened.

It's springtime - flowers are blooming, grass is greening, leaves are stretching out among tree branches and warm days are beginning to grace us. And my friend is back! Is this the ritual that mockingbirds perform in hopes of meeting their springtime love? Perhaps. But I don't think so for this little fellow.

What is he so happy about that he spends his nights warbbling and trilling into the cool, inky sky? Is he singing to the moon as she rolls overhead? Is he so full of joy, that his little body can't hold it all in and he has to sing it out to the world? Or is he singing lullabies to those of us who can't seem to sleep through the night and need help drifting back into slumber?

Who knows for sure.

But what I do know is that I appreciate his performances and I am grateful for his talent. If this little guy can be so happy and have so much to sing about, then surely I can too!

Look deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
-Albert Einstein

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