Ask Bird Brain - The Bird Advice Column

Dear Bird Brain,

I am very tired today because a bird kept me up all night long. It started around midnight and went on for hours and hours. It sang a lot of different, really loud songs. Why wasn’t it sleeping? Aren’t birds supposed to sleep at night?

Sleepy in Seattle



Dear Sleepy,


You’re right; most birds do sleep at night. The bird you probably heard is called a mockingbird. They sing both in the day and in the night. Mockingbirds have very loud voices and sing a variety of tunes. They can also mock, or imitate the call of other birds.


Mockingbirds are small. They only weigh around 3 ounces, which is about as much as a lime. But don’t be fooled by their size—mockingbirds have the voice of a much larger bird.


Only the male sings. He does this for two reasons: to try to attract a female and to mark his territory. If you’re another bird and you can hear him, you’re in his territory. So go away.


Mockingbirds are known to keep people awake. I heard about one bird that was terrorizing an entire city block in Brooklyn. The bird kept everyone awake from 12:00 to 4:00 each morning. After several tired weeks, someone finally decided to do something. He scared the bird away by spraying him with a hose.


Bird Brain