Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Friend? or Foe?

I've been having a bit of an odd experience lately. We have a catbird (a Gray Catbird) living somewhere in our backyard (I suspect the nest is in a particular bush near the house). Every morning when I go out he (or she) is sitting on the trellis looking at me. I've taken to saying "good morning" and going about my business. I swear he (she) follows me around the yard but he (she) is doing his (let's just say its a "him" for now) business like getting nesting material, finding food, etc.

Now that's weird enough but I went to work Friday, 6 miles away, and there was another (?) catbird sitting on the gas meter eying me. He didn't hang around for long so far as I know as I had to go inside, but there he'd been. THEN I went to Mom's and guess what, another catbird was there to greet me. Ok... So, I got home and, yes indeed, there was "my" catbird on the trellis.

What is going on here? Is the catbird following me about? Do catbirds have a secret society of Hobie observers? Are catbird populations suddenly on the rise?

One nice thing about catbirds is that they will sit not too far from you on a handy branch (or trellis) and sing. Very nice and it nearly drowns out the traffic noise. I'm getting to the point that I really dislike the traffic noise.

The Gray Catbird (this photo obviously far better than the one of MY friend) is a medium-sized northern American perching bird of the mimid family. It is the only member of New World catbird genus Dumetella.  Adults are dark gray with a slim, black bill and dark eyes. They have a long dark tail, dark legs and a dark cap; they are rust-colored underneath their tail.

Named for its cat-like call but, like many members of the Mimidae family, it also mimics the songs of other birds, as well as tree frogs and even mechanical sounds. Because it has a syrinx like most birds, it is able to make two sounds at the same time. Considered to sound raspier than a mockingbird. 

They build a bulky cup nest in a shrub or tree, close to the ground. Eggs are light blue in color, and clutch size ranges from 1-5, with 2-3 eggs most common. Both parents take turns feeding the young birds. They mainly eat insects and berries and that is what they've been gathering in our yard. Apparently we have lots of bugs!

I'm sure there are myths or old wives tales about these birds as Nana told me the first I'd heard about catbirds. That is, they will peck out your eyes. She didn't know more. Maybe my baby blues is what is attracting one or both of this pair for constant visits!

- Smithsonian Bird of the Month!

1 comment:

DiamondD said...

Kinda makes me wonder if Homeland Security has a new Catbird Czar. Big Brother is watching!! 8-)