I’m not a bird person.
I suppose I enjoy waking to birds singing and seeing some cute little fellow alight on the balcony about as much as anyone, I suppose.
But it’s not like I’m going to grab the binoculars and field guide if I spot a strange puff of feathers in the tree across the way. And as far as I’m concerned, those pigeons people feed are just rats with beaks and wings.
So it’s odd that some of my most vivid memories of riding involve birds.
Take the time I got dropped by a couple of roadrunners who darted past my wheel like sprint specialists fighting for a stage win. Or the time I watched a flock of San Diego parrots burst into a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors as they took flight.
I’ve seen a hawk silently dive bomb into an unsuspecting rabbit, while riding through the grasslands of eastern Colorado. And once even felt the wingtip of an eagle brush my shoulder as it swooped down to snatch a snake curled just feet from my wheel.
And if that doesn’t get your heart pounding, you might as well just lie down and close your eyes. Because you may be dead already and just don’t know it yet.
Then there’s the ones that I heard more than saw.
Like the eerie call of a lonely owl across a mountain moraine or the staccato jackhammer of a woodpecker in a Louisiana swamp. The lovely lilting melody of a meadowlark rising from a fencerow along a high country highway.
Or that of a bobolink, whose distinctive call sounds much like its name, rising on the last syllable.
I could sometimes imitate it well enough to get a response as I rode; although I suspect, like a foreign tourist who attempts a few words in the local language, they weren’t so much fooled as simply appreciated the effort.
Still, it’s a sound I know almost as well as the sound of my own name.
So when I heard that distinctive call outside my window the other day, there was one thing I knew for certain.
It wasn’t a bobolink.
I hadn’t heard that call in the two-plus decades I’ve lived in Southern California. And to the best of my knowledge, the bird’s range doesn’t extend much west of Utah.
On the other hand, hearing it gave me a clue to just what had been singing loudly enough outside our window to keep my wife awake at night for the past few weeks — and annoy the hell out of her during the day.
So I followed my hunch with quick search online, and sure enough, found the following on Wikipedia:
Mockingbirds’ willingness to nest near houses, their loud and frequent songs, and their territorial defense often annoy people… Mockingbirds are often found in urban and suburban areas, where they perch on telephone poles, streetlights, or high points on buildings.
A simple look outside confirmed the presence of a little grey bird, very much like the one in the picture, atop the TV antenna on the building next door.
Game, set, match.
A little more research revealed that those loud calls that were driving my wife up the wall were an attempt to attract a mate, and that he should quiet down once he finds one.
So what we’re dealing with here is just another horny guy disturbing everyone around him in a vain attempt to get laid.
And what man among us couldn’t relate to that?
So if you happen to know a cute, single female mockingbird, let me know. I don’t mind a little bird pimping if it will shut him up and let my wife get some sleep.
Besides, this isn’t the first mockingbird we’ve had around here.
And I’d really like to calm this one down before he learns to imitate a car alarm.
Santa Monica’s Cynergy Cycles hosts a lecture on Surviving Multi-Day Cycling Events on Wednesday; their Spring Sale starts the next day. A local lawyer offers advice on what to do if you’re doored; as often as it happens, you might want to bookmark it. Downtown sees a rise in bike thefts — and arrests. Less than 10 days after the tragic death of their teammate, the Bahati Foundation team competes in the Sunny King Criterium in Anniston. The path to better biking runs down the road, not through spin class. Set aside your “me first” culture, drive slower and watch for bicyclists. Colorado’s bike-riding Governor is back on the saddle six weeks after breaking six ribs, and a look at ghost bikes in the Centennial State. Salt Lake’s mayor has his bike stolen across the street from the Utah Bike Summit. A Florida cyclist is severely injured in a collision with a police car; police say the rider turned into the path of their vehicle, and who’s going to argue? A pair of DC-area PSAs say don’t cut of the bike and look before opening your door. The CBS Early Show discovers bikes. Why do salmon cyclists insist on riding against traffic? Advice on buying your first bike. A New Zealand cyclist is killed after colliding with a runaway labradoodle; reports suggest the dog will be fine. Auckland cyclists are tough; unfortunately, the roads are tougher. An economist explains why cyclists shouldn’t have to pay to ride. Six thousand miles in eight months come to a fatal end for a British woman in Australia. A British man goes out for a bike ride and comes home without his bike, backpack, cash or memory.
Finally, fallout from the fallout from the Icelandic volcano keeps top European pros at home; but for once, a bike offers a benefit in the non-biking world as stranded travelers have to buy one — and ride it — to get the last cyclist-only tickets home. And one of the world’s most popular bike blogger considers renting a bike to ride home to Copenhagen.