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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Gladys and the Call of the Wild, Part 1

“Working at home,” (this month I use the term “working” loosely) offers the benefit of spontaneity. So when a friend pulled into my driveway yesterday seeking the location of a house down the road where she needed to sign up to attend a future estate sale, I hopped in her car to show her, planning on walking back. I had an agenda for my return stroll.

My husband often calls me Gladys Kravitz, after the nosy neighbor in the old TV show Bewitched, and though I prefer the word curious, he’s right. This time however, it’s for good cause. For the past two weeks, a raucous cry from some unknown bird has woken me at dawn and continued bleating all day. We’ve never heard a sound like it, a blend between a laughing hyena, a creature out of an African jungle, and someone trying to start a stalled lawn mower. I suspected it could be a type of woodpecker because I’m not kidding, the first time I heard it, I thought of the old Woody the Woodpecker cartoon and his maniacal laugh, but we’ve heard no drumming on wood. We could tell the bird has nested somewhere in our neighbor’s yard…a property situated so that his house blocks our view. The owner is rarely home.

On my trip back from delivering my friend, I planned to walk up the long driveway next door and find the source of the sound. My friend had another idea. “There’s an antique store in town selling a book of bird calls. We can go there, listen to some woodpeckers and see if you can identify it.” I was game. I’m not a birdwatcher at all…never knew such a thing as a book of bird sounds existed, but this mystery is so vocal that I’m determined to uncover its source.

One mahogany dropped-leaf table, a World War I megaphone (my friend’s purchases, not mine) and a bemused shop owner later, I was convinced we had a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker next door. Then I came home, listened to more bird calls on YouTube and decided, no, it’s much louder than a Sapsucker; a Pileated Woodpecker, maybe, but still, the voice wasn’t quite right.

Gladys knows no boundaries. This morning my husband and I conducted a proper investigation, tiptoeing (AKA: trespassing) up the curved driveway of the empty house as we tracked the call of the bird, until we stood directly under the portico leading to the entrance to the home. Gazing toward an open third floor window, it became apparent that our absentee neighbor, a business man who travels extensively, has some kind of exotic bird living on his top floor. Huh?

So of course, Gladys hopped on to YouTube again in search of exotic bird calls, which ruled out Cockatoo, Cockatiel, Macaw and Toucan. Then I ran out of the tropical bird names I knew and threw up my hands, determined to put the mystery behind me for the day--until my husband announced that the noises emanating from that window are coming at exact intervals. Every 1 minute and 20 seconds, the same broadcast floats into our windows from his. Hmmm, a very regular bird? Or a recording? This does not bode well for Gladys, whose compulsion to see all and know all has her chewing her lip and pacing the floor.

Stay tuned for future developments, which will be reported as they occur.

What do you imagine is going on next door?


Robin said...

I'm surprised you haven't found a way to shimmy up to that open window and have a peek for yourself. Are there no trees or trellis to climb? Do you not have a ladder that will reach? This is a mystery that must be solved!

Jennifer Shirk said...

I'm sure you're not as bad as Gladys was. LOL!
But honestly, I LIKE nosy neighbors. I feel safer, knowing somebody is watching out. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

After all this trouble, I hope you discover the species! If you decide to peer in the window, don't fall off the ladder. That would be difficult to explain to your neighbor - or the police.

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Tabitha Bird said...


Go knock on the door and ask him! :)

Andria said...

Hmm, this is indeed a mystery. I'm excited to discover the end of this story. :)

Liza said...

Robin, Alex...his third floor window is way too high...and I wouldn't dare anyway. Jennifer, maybe I'm not Gladys...but this mystery has me close. Tab, he's not home...Andrea, me too!

Ro said...

He's not home? And his bird is bleating away on it's own? Very, very strange. Can't wait to find out what you discover next! :)

Helen Ginger said...

I can see a recording of a dog, but a bird to scare away burglars and nosy neighbors (uh, ignore that last part)? That's a bit strange.

Tamika: said...

You're better than Glady's and more tactical! Now you just mind find out for our curosity's sake:)