Sunday, April 27, 2008

Nocturnal Birdsong

I've been in my current neighborhood for three years now and never until this year have I been woken up at midnight by loud birdsong. It starts with one bird with a characteristic pattern of notes and then a couple of others join in what appears to be an interactive session. Their sound is loud and piercing but not unpleasant. Any other time of day it would have been quite delightful but that late at night it is anything but. I've begun to dread that hour because the birds are always exactly on time.

There is the theory that urban birds have resorted to singing at night because the daytime traffic drowns their melodies - traffic in my neck of the woods is pretty light any time of day so I'm not sure it that explains it. The nights that I've lain awake reading waiting for the birdsong musical to end, I've found myself thinking how hard it must be for these birds to be spending their energy singing at night because we humans in different ways have pushed them to behave out of character. Maybe they are desperate to attract a mate, maybe time in running out. It might just be my imagination but I hear a tinge of despair in their nocturnal songs that is quite unlike anything I hear by day.

I wonder if they can get through the day being sleep deprived - I have caffeine to help me. Are the female birds awake at night to listen to all this serenading or do they end up being missed connections that have no Craigslist to reunite them. When I see it from the birds' perspective, my sleep being cut short by a couple of hours seems infinitely inconsequential. I could invest in a sturdy pair of earplugs and all would be well but the birds would continue to beseech their mates in the middle of the night perhaps mostly in vain. Being the guilty species, it seems the least I could do is to get used to it.

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