I've been doing a bit of research aimed at what's been keeping me up nights outside my window: The northern mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos, "many-tongued mimic" in Latin. For a long time my roomates believed the same car alarm was going off for 8 hours every night.
This mocking bird has impelled me to rise from my bed with intentions to yell and damn it to hell. I am so intrigued by its repertoire of sound bites that I compromise all steadfastness and lamely begin to plead with the bird.
"Come on bird, I'm trying to sleep. . . I mean all night, all f_ _ _ing night?"
(Sigh, frustrated man walks a circle with arms holding hips.)
Interesting to know:
Male mockingbirds are among the world's most accomplished vocal copyists. Their long musical solos borrow songs and calls from as many as 50 other bird species, and also sounds from other animals: frogs peeping, crickets chirping, the barking of dogs. Mockingbird's songs even include mechanical noises such as the squeak of a wheelbarrow, sirens, or car alarms. They mimic so well that electronic analysis of the mockingbird's "copy" shows no difference from the original.
Male mockingbirds exercise their vocal artistry most during the early spring and summer mating seasons. They sing for reasons similar to those which motivate human males to cruise city streets: to advertise their maleness, attract mates, discourage competitors, and to delineate their territories. The more extensive his vocal repertoire, the better chance a male mockingbird has of mimicking and driving away other birds, thereby gaining a larger share of habitat, and more access to the female listening audience. The songsters pick high perches - television antennas, utility poles, or tall cacti, shrubs, or trees - to better broadcast their signals. Unmated males sometimes sing all night long! (Thats our bird, the most lame and lonely mockingbird in Davis)
Male mockingbirds also defend their territories with body language: two males may confront each other at a territorial boundary and "dance," rapidly hopping sideways, flashing their black and white wings, flicking their long tails, like boxers sparring for an opening. But the pair never actually spars; the name of the game is to intimidate, not to injure.