Backyard Bird–The Catbird


October 5, 2009bird BirdsNo comments

by: Gary Machado

It’s quiet, now.

Gone is the constant chatter, whistles and meowing sounds as you jump from branch to branch safeguarding your territory against all trespassers.

Gone too is the uniformally gray body with the black cap and tail feathers, with just a smidgen of rust coloration under the tail coverts, that allows you to blend in with your natural habitat of dense undergrowth and thickets.

They call you a skulker, a bird hard to see in the dense underbrush. Usually heard but not seen.

Definitely NOT a backyard bird.

Except in my backyard.

Maybe it’s because my back yard is filled with trees and dense underbrush along the rear and side fences.

Or maybe it’s because there is a wooded area of trees and underbrush in the low-lying parcel of land across the street.

Or maybe it’s because of a reason I can’t fully understand.

I know you don’t stay because of my bird feeders, because you don’t have bird seed in your diet.

You prefer insects, spiders and fruit berries instead.

But whatever the reason, I’m grateful.

I’m grateful that you have chosen my rear yard as your place to breed and have baby chicks.

And not just this year. But last year too. Definitely unusual.

I’m delighted to watch you jump and fly from one low hanging branch to another, or from one small tree to another, constantly chattering or meowing your right of territory.

But I never did get to see your mate’s nest. You never led me there. So I don’t know how many chicks you fledged and whether they all survived.

But it’s late summer now. And it’s quiet again.

Are you already heading south on your long migration journey? To southern Florida. Or Texas? Or even to eastern Mexico?

I understand that for this trip, you’ve teamed up with some other catbirds, so that you are in a group of a dozen or so. For protection? For guidance?

Whatever the reason, I hope your migration south and your return next year is succesful. I would really like it if you or one of your chicks return next year. I look forward to your whistles and meowing as you build your nest and defend your territory.

But until next year, “skulker” catbird,

Good bye…

About The Author

Gary Machado has been both a field and backyard birdwatcher for over 30 years. Visit his site at

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