Listen To The Mockingbird

For a few weeks now, Susan and I have been bamboozled by the beeping bird. Usually in the early morning hours was when we’d hear it the best — just a solitary and evenly interval’d “BEEP!” But despite efforts I was never able to get a visual on the feathered fiend.

Early on in the mystery I asked Susan if there might be a smoke detector in the upstairs whose battery was failing thus triggering a warning alert, but Susan insisted they were all hardwired and that couldn’t be the source of the sound. In addition sometimes the sound would emanate from the trees around the southeast corner of the house and sometimes I would hear it distinctly from the trees to the northwest across the street, Then there were the extended periods where we wouldn’t hear it at all.

I was all set to chalk it up to general wildlife weirdness when the enigma was revealed Thursday whilst up on the roof hanging our holiday lights on the front dormer. Suddenly: BEEP! And it was close. I scanned the trees around me, but was pretty dang sure it came from inside the upstairs, so I stopped what I was doing and listened intently by the front window and in about a minute there it came again: BEEP!

Removing the screen I clambered inside and stood still. In a few more seconds the sound came again and I had a visual. But it wasn’t a bird at all. It was, in fact, the smoke detector in what had been our tenant’s bedroom. When I detached it from its wall mount I found it was indeed hardwired — but also came with a battery back-up in case of a power failure. Aha!

I brought the unit downstairs and showed Susan and we both did some eye-rolling in relief that our weeks-long residential conundrum was finally over — and we figured that the reason we thought the sound originated from different places outside was because of what window it would come out of and what obstacle the waves would bounce off of.

That may be true, but I learned yesterday that’s not the whole truth.

See, whilst raking leaves in the backyard Saturday morning, from overhead came suddenly: BEEP! I looked up at the rear dormer wondering could there be another failing detector upstairs, but as if in answer there came a second BEEP! and I wheeled around to find the culprit. Let’s just say they don’t call them mockingbirds for nothing.

As best I can figure it the sound was such a regular occurence that one of our local mockers couldn’t help but eventually pick up on it. And with such a pitch-perfect impersonation that might also explain why Susan and I were hearing it from beyond the house.


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Will Campbell arrived in town via the maternity ward at Good Sam Hospital way back in OneNineSixFour and has never stopped calling Los Angeles home. Presently he lives in Silver Lake with his wife Susan, their cat Rocky, dogs Terra and Hazel, and a red-eared slider turtle named Mater. Blogging since 2001, Will's web endeavors extend back to 1995 with, a comprehensive theater site that was well received but ever-short on capital (or a business model). The pinnacle of his online success (which speaks volumes) arrived in 1997, when much to his surprise, a hobby site he'd built called VisuaL.A. was named "best website" in Los Angeles magazine's annual "Best of L.A." issue. He enjoys experiencing (and writing about) pretty much anything creative, explorational and/or adventurous, loves his ebike, is a better tennis player than he is horr golfer, and a lover of all creatures great and small -- emphasis on "all."