Baby Catbirds!

I fancy I have a special relation with The Catbird, as I described back in 2015. Last summer, however, he seemed to abandon us; there were few around, and there was a dearth of the imitative singing they offer. Maybe it was the drought; had it dried up all the good bugs? Certainly by August the water over the big dam at Saxonville had diminished to barely a trickle, and when we canoed from Pelham Island Road upriver (but down from us—we are above the dam) we discovered that beavers had built their own dam all the way across the Sudbury River. I doubt if they could have managed that in other years.

This year, however, the catbirds are back; not throngs, but a couple at any rate. And not, apparently, the one who learned my ‘Come and get it’ call, and, so far, not the loquacious ones at all. I’m not sure what stimulates them to excesses of verbiage, but here they’ve been mainly mewing, which to my mind is mainly a caw, like a crow but more demure. I should mention that last month, on an afternoon paddle on the Charles River south of here, there were quite a few singing catbirds. So maybe the catbirds in our little patch of woods are not quite at the demonstrative stage, whenever that is. Maybe it’s still the bugs.

They are, however, breeding. We were delighted to discover that a pair had built a nest at eye level in a shrub right next to the path to the river. Here’s the Momma bird on the nest on July 9th:


And here she is out on business (July 12th):


I can’t actually tell the males from the females, so I’ll assume it’s Momma (why are some birds sexually dimorphic, while others are not?). While she was out, we got a glimpse of the nest. It’s out of focus, but you can see a beak or two if you look closely (July 14th):


Mama’s back on the nest (July 15th),


and then she’s off. Here are two beaks waiting for lunch:


A couple of days later, bright-eyed and alert (July 17th)


Wait! There are three young’uns! (July 18th):


Continue reading