Over several years now, I’ve had both the mockingbird and catbird visit my yard for extended periods of time. Both were solitary and both were male, or so I assumed. The mockingbird was the “boss” of the yard. He would control who was allowed to use the birdbath and when. If anyone went near the holly tree he would zoom right over and chase them out. I loved to watch him in command. And I also loved to listen to his extended songs. His repertoire varied but almost always included what I swear was “pretty bird, pretty bird”. And sometimes he included what sounded like a car alarm trill. Amazing!
I never really noticed the catbird singing. But whenever I went outside he would follow me around and make awful screeching sounds similar to a cat. He stayed out of the mockingbird’s way and was pretty low key.
I haven’t seen the mockingbird since a huge flock of robins, yes HUGE flock of robins, descended upon the holly tree the winter before last. There are people who will say that robins don’t flock together. But I saw at least 50 of them arrive together late one winter afternoon. It was even hard for me to believe my own eyes. But there they were and headed over to the holly. The mockingbird tried to chase them away but he was outnumbered. I felt so sorry for him. Shortly after that episode, he left.
So, I was delighted when I heard the mockingbird singing up a storm outside my window a couple of weeks ago. He even had the familiar “pretty bird, pretty bird” incorporated within his trill. I kept watching to catch a glimpse of him. But no mockingbird. The song was coming from the catbird! How could that be?
I did a little research on the catbird and discovered that he and the mockingbird, along with the thrush, are from the same family and they are song birds. The catbird and mockingbird’s songs are very similar.
Then I discovered the reason for the catbird’s song…he had found a mate! It looked like she might be building a nest in the pyracantha outside my kitchen window. While she worked, he sat at the top of the branches and sang. This is a photo of him in between songs:
He was in love! There was a song in his heart and he had to let it out! He sings almost all day…honestly, I don’t know when he has time to eat!
The following illustration is from the 1897 book “Bird Neighbors” by Neltje Blanchan. The catbird is called the “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” in this book. “Exquisitely proportioned, with finely poised black head and satin-gray coat, which he bathes most carefully and prunes and prinks by the hour, he appears from his toilet a Beau Brummell, an aristocratic-looking, even dandified neighbor. Suddenly, as if shot, he drops head and tail and assumes the most hang-dog air, without the least sign of self-respect; then crouches and lengthens into a roll, head forward and tail straightened, till he looks like a little, short gray snake, lank and limp….In song and call he presents the same opposite characteristics. How such a bird, exquisite in style, can demean himself to utter such harsh, altogether hateful catcalls and squawks as have given the bird his common name, is a wonder when in the next moment his throat swells…and he gives forth a long glorious song, only second to that of the wood thrush in melody.”
I’m truly enjoying his singing and am delighted that Mr. Catbird and his bride have taken up summer residence here.
Everything outside is so green. Lush, that’s the word.
My beloved giant hosta is growing by leaps and bounds as are the phlox and daylilies.
I remember one summer several years ago when we were having a pretty serious drought. The grass had turned brown and crunched when you walked on it. The perennials were all limp and lifeless. I even lost some well established shrubs. I couldn’t water the plants or the lawn as I’m on a well and I was lucky I still had water for the house. I didn’t even like looking out the window during that period of time…it was too upsetting. I remembered that drought as I walked around the yard and took these pictures.
Lush and green…definitely a good thing!
Just before I was about to publish this post, I noticed something on the screen door. I grabbed the camera and went outside. It looked like a white moth…but it was weird as it had fur on both ends. It wasn’t until I cropped the photo and enlarged it that I realized what it was.
It wasn’t one moth, it was two moths copulating. Right there on my screen door! What do you think about that?
At long last, love!