A couple of days ago the catbirds came back.
Shy at first, they are growing bolder – making acrobatic forays to the suet cakes and observing our behavior. We are quickly being classified as reasonably harmless food providers.
This catbird is pictured out past the pond and big garden, at the beginning of the red maple swamp woods. They do seem to like this area, I remember from last year too, maybe because there are winterberries growing wild there.
I saw 5 or 6 catbirds yesterday. Maybe some are just passing through. Last year we had a couple of pairs that nested nearby and visited feeders regularly.
I heard catbirds before I saw them. Their “catty mew” is distinctive.
If you’re convinced you’ll never be able to learn bird calls, start with the Gray Catbird. Once you’ve heard its catty mew you won’t forget it. Follow the sound into thickets and vine tangles and you’ll be rewarded by a somber gray bird with a black cap and bright rusty feathers under the tail. Gray Catbirds are relatives of mockingbirds and thrashers, and they share that group’s vocal abilities, copying the sounds of other species and stringing them together to make their own song.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology video: Catbird Mimicry