Monday, May 28, 2007

The Week of the Catbird

This weekend I took an early morning walk on my favourite river trail and enjoyed the little sunshine we had that day. (We do need rain and I am not complaining about the wet, cool weather.) I have walked this trail weekly this spring and have been delighted with some new discovery every time. A couple of weeks ago, there were many Baltimore Orioles visible as they sang in the trees. The next week I saw numbers of Yellow Warblers working with nesting materials. This was the week of the Catbird.

I saw the first Grey Catbirds in our neighbourhood and around the hospital at the end of last week, but did not hear their distinctive call. While walking the trail on Saturday, I saw four Orioles, two Yellow Warblers, heard one Warbling Vireo, and saw an abundance of Catbirds. They were "mewing" in the low shrubs and bushes and it took only a couple of minutes waiting to see them move around the higher branches, still vocalizing in their unique way. The Catbird is an imitator like the Mockingbird and Brown Thrasher, but it has a squeakier voice and imitates a song only once. They do not always make cat-like sounds, but that is what I heard on this day.

While this bird is not uncommon, it is on the "Conservation Priority" list for this river shed area.

These species have been identified by Bird Studies Canada to help planning authorities set priorities for conservation efforts. In this way, bird species and habitat that are significant within the Grand River Watershed are targeted for conservation efforts. A total of 120 species in our watershed have this status. (Source)

I have identified fifty-three bird species along this trail so far this year. There are 292 birds on sighting list for the Grand River watershed, so I have a lot more to find. Who knows what the next bird of the week will be??


  1. Hello, body soul and spirit

    Sounds like that place is better than Point Pelee! But I had seen a few catbirds at point pelee. Maybe the next week it will be the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. ???

  2. Lots of species to look forward to! Love the photo of the tree Ruth...just spectacular.

  3. Anonymous8:08 am GMT-4

    I just love watching catbirds! You took some wonderful photos here!

  4. That's a beautiful area, Ruth. I'm glad you get the chance to enjoy it on a regular basis and thanks for sharing it with us.

    I now have a catbird hanging out in one of my evergreens (I hope she will nest there). You're right, her variety of calls is wonderful to hear.

  5. Birdman- I didn't find all the birds on one trip. I have been counting since February, and birds like the Mergansers and Buffleheads are gone now. The numbers add up over time, but at Point Pelee, I think you can see greater numbers in one day.

    Jayne- Thanks. I am inspired by "trees planted by the water". And they look different every week.

    Monarch- Thanks. I appreciate a compliment on the pictures from a master.

  6. You are so lucky to have a natural area like this close by. It nourishes Body, Soul, and Spirit :0)

    This morning I handed my binoculars to my hubby so that he could see (for the first time!) the chestnut patch under the Catbird's rump. He was delighted.

  7. That tree photo is terrific!

    When I saw a catbird last week, it sat quietly. I would have loved to hear it - I understand it's sound is quite funny.

  8. We've got a lot of Catbirds around here but I still like them.-There is a pair nesting near our yard and I'm thrilled about it.-They are great yardbirds to watch.-Yellow Warblers mix in with the Catbirds around here as well.

  9. Cathy- Yes, my weekend walks really give me a total boost for the week. I never noticed the chestnut rumps until I downloaded the pictures. I have actually ordered a pair of binoculars. :-)

    Mary- Since I heard this bird singing, I am hearing catbirds frequently. It is an unusual song.

    Larry- There were lots of yellow warblers in this area too. In fact this is the only warbler I have ID'd. The leaves now hide the small birds and I know I have seen others, but just not well enough to give them a name.


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