Thursday, August 20, 2009

One thing leads to another: catbird adventure

One of the chief joys of country gardening is the many birds that summer on our property. I had never really noticed grey catbirds until we disturbed their nest while pruning the lilacs at our side yard entry.

The Palibin lilacs have very dense foliage, so David (my garden helper, who is a great animal lover) had already cut off the branch in question when he noticed the nest and three baby birds.

His quick-thinking solution was to get a fence post into the ground and attach the branch. Mama and Papa bird weren't happy.

The catbird nest on its fence post

Nonetheless, they quickly found their offspring and continued to look after them, even though the dense foliage cover that gives catbirds their feeling of security was gone.

I'm no bird photographer, but I couldn't resist taking advantage of this opportunity to get pictures of both the nestlings and their doting parents.

Bird parents fascinate me because they are so tireless and so protective (at least the ones I know best, the barn swallows, and now the catbirds). Any time anyone walked to the side door, they would swoop in, and we'd hear their characteristic alarm call, which sounds like the loud mewing of a cat. They were not happy when I came out with my camera. They hovered around to make sure I wouldn't get too close to the nest.

All ended well: the little nestlings grew and fledged, and then they and Ma and Pa flew off to find their prefered habitat: dense foliage. Fortunately, we have lots more trees and shrubs on our property.

"I'm keeping an eye on you," this catbird parent seems to say.
"I don't trust you with that long lens."

If you're curious to learn more about catbirds and their habits, Cornell University has great information, and you can play their song and their cat-call too.

© Yvonne Cunnington, Country Gardener


  1. Cheers to David for his quick thinking!

  2. Lovely photos !
    And thanks for the Cornell U link. Great site !

  3. What a great job of saving the day!! Your bird photograph are beautiful!
    This is a great post! Stop by my place today to see an interesting critter in my yard!
    Cheers to you both!


Thanks so much for visiting this site. I have a new country garden blog and I will no longer be publishing comments at this blog. If you have a question or comment about the topic here, please use the contact form at my new blog to get in touch with me.

-Yvonne, aka Country Gardener