Santa Barbara's Midnight Bird Singers

Santa Barbara is full of singing birds this time of year. The House Finch has a cheery song and seems to prefer close association with us, often building its nest in hanging flower pots on our porch or in a vine twining over our front door. The male finch is easy to spot with a robust red on his face and chest, while the female – though often joining her mate in song – is a plainer striped brown bird. 

Male House Finch | Bob Lewis
Male finch. Photo Credit: Bob Lewis,

But no bird captures our attention like the Northern Mockingbird. Even the most distracted among us can’t help but hear this inventive singer. Called Mimus polyglottos (for a mimic with a variety of songs), the mockingbird laces it melodious songs with a variety of borrowed sounds including, but not exclusively – the squeaks of a rusty gate.
During breeding season, the mockingbird sings its remarkable song all day long and often into the night. The bird singing down your chimney at 2 am is probably a desperate male still trying to attract a mate.

Mockingbird | Bob Lewis
Mockingbird. Photo Credit: Bob Lewis,

Sometimes a mockingbird seems so overwhelmed with ecstasy that it will rise above its perch on open, gray and white wings, floating back down, never missing a beat. Beware this fierce bird though. If you or your cat or dog approaches its nest too closely, it will attack, delivering smart blows to the head.