Robins? We’re here.
Goldfinches? Yep, we’re here.
Where are my catbirds?
Foe the past 4 or 5 years, I have had one family of catbirds that nested in the rear of my yard. This year. – so far – I haven’t seen them They usually arrive in early April, and I’m getting a little worried.
Catbirds are lovely, graceful creatures with a song that sometimes imitates the meowing of a cat – therefore the name. Catbirds, like mockingbirds, will also mimic the calls of other birds. They are fairly friendly birds and don’t appear to be upset at the closeness of this human. I can often get within a few feet before they fly away.
Some confuse catbirds with cowbirds. They sort of look alike, but catbirds are true songbirds while cowbirds – which lay their eggs in other birds’ nests – are rogues and members of the blackbird family.
The phrase, “In the catbird’s seat” is an old English expression meaning “in a superior or advantageous position”. That’s because catbirds frequently find the highest limb or most prominent perch from which to sing.
Red Barber, the fabled Brooklyn Dodger announcer, made famous that phrase when he used to describe a batter with three balls and no strikes as “sitting in the catbird’s seat.” The batter had the clear advantage because he knew the pitcher had to bring the next one over the plate.
Interestingly, catbirds are never fooled by a cowbird’s attempt at leaving eggs in their nests. If they see a cowbird egg, they break it immediately. Robins, sometimes, will hatch and raise a cowbird chick.
My catbirds generally hang around until September, and then depart. I enjoy their company and I’m hoping they arrive soon.