« Open Thread - 11 April 2016 | Main | Syria elects a parliament and the Tiger Man will lead at Aleppo City »

13 April 2016


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

John Minnerath

One that's common here. Very nice to see hanging out in the bushes around the yard.
Always a favorite.

Medicine Man

Col.: Certain times of year we get those little catbirds up here too. Wikipedia is correct in that they seem less common than they are due to their reclusive nature. They are not quite as chummy as the chickadees but certainly are not fearful birds. I like to think they make the mewing noise to mock housecats and unnerve other birds.

I like watching the birds, especially this time of year. They are quite wrapped up in their foraging, territorial battles, and courtship. Beyond evaluating us for threats or food sources, I don't think they care about our dramas at all. I find them on the whole quite comforting.


When I was a wee lad, my grandfather told me his favorite birds were the Mugwumps. They sit with their mugs on one side of the fence and their wumps on the other.

Mark Logan

Looks a heck of a lot like the Clark's Nutcracker which is wide spread in the Cascades, a relative of the Grey Jays which inhabit much of the hardwood forests of Canada. They are known as "Robber Birds" to most campers in the Cascades, clever and bold, they have swooped in and stolen food right off forks!. Several women on hikes have responded positively to my spotting one watching us eat and telling her, as a sort of Tarzan, King of the Cascades, "Look at that bird, it is not afraid of us" hold a peanut or something out in my hand to it, which nine times out of ten the Clark would immediately swoop in and take, so deft on the wing as to take it without making contact with my hand.

As an experiment, I suggest looking one dead in the eye while with a peanut in the palm of an extended hand. If that doesn't work keep the hand out and look away.

Margaret Steinfels

We have those out in our mountain cabin (western Catskills). I think their monkish caps are quite elegant.

In city life pigeons dominate. But the other day walking through a small park, I was startled to see a small round creature on a branch of a small bush just starting to bud. The bird was so small and so still that for a moment I thought it was a tree ornament that someone had attached at Christmas time. Then it moved. And then a bunch of them moved. Sorry not to have a photo. I think they were wrens.


The catbirds come every year, sit in the mountain ash just out my kitchen window and imitate my wrens. Drives the poor wrens nuts. Wrens are highly territorial and feel they have to go after the interlopers, always. Of course, once the wrens have taken the bait the catbirds shut up and watch the wrens wear themselves out. I've even seen the catbirds draw the wrens away from their birdhouse and lure them a considerable distance. Then one of the catbirds will double back and sit in the tree over the wren's house and mimic - of course by the time the wren gets to his house to defend it the catbird is long gone. The catbirds seem to enjoy this game and if my hearing were better I might hear them laughing.

Jag Pop

Just checked our personal birder's journal and Catbirds arrive consistently up here in middle New England the first week of May.

My wife and I luv these. We put out grape jelly for the Baltimore Orioles but mostly we attract "only" Catbirds. They are grape jelly addicts!

We are north of you there in Virginia; soon, if all goes as planned, we will be south of you. And it will be time for a brand new journal.


And the sound of all the different birds chirping away in a Virginia forest is a treat. Especially, when they are accented by Pileated Woodpeckers whose sound is really loud and distinct.

Medicine Man

Get any herons in your neck of the woods, Col?


We have them in Jax and I was introduced to them in New Orleans. They use to dive bomb our cat and had him terrorized


My wife and I really enjoy the presence of our catbirds. They are always curious, monitoring where we are and what we are about. My wife dubbed them "Nosy Pete" on account of that behavior. They flutter into a nearby bush, or hop about on the ground only a few feet from us as we move about the yard, always giving us the cocked head and a critical eye. They sit on a branch, slowly pumping their tail, and upon occasion admonish us with a cry rather like "mra-a-a-h", falling downward in its pitch toward the end of the utterance.

Once, about four years ago, a pair crafted a nest in a big leucothoe bush right under one of our kitchen windows, affording us the chance to sneak peeks and to watch as the eggs turned first into chicks, and thence into fledglings, until one day they left the nest.

They are relatives of mockingbirds, and sing their own wonderful, albeit somewhat more modest, songs. Magical these are as the evening gloom draws on.


I have the good fortune of having a nesting pair of Baltimore orioles on my eastern shore farm. If I'm lucky I'll see the once or twice a year. While visiting Costa Rica in Feb., I was amazed to see a dozen orioles gathered in a tree beside our patio. All of the hummingbirds in Costa Rica made me marvel at the long distance migration of these tiny creatures.



We have a lot of long legged white wading birds in the Potomac near the Parkway to Mt. Vernon. I don't know what they are. pl

John Minnerath

Huge difference between those jays and cat birds, which are thrashers.
Both the Gray Jay and the Clark's Nutcracker are larger and stouter, with different behavior and liking different habitat.
Here those jays are at higher elevations, the cat birds liking the lower streams and river bottoms.


BabelFish... I've seen the do the same and the cat looks astounded, then scared

John Minnerath

Back where you are most likely one of the white egrets. Common, Snowy, or Cattle. All 3 should be regulars. The Common much the largest.
There's also a great White Heron, but I doubt it would be seen as far north as you.

The Twisted Genius

Medicine Man,

Grey Herons are fairly plentiful along the Potomac. When I worked in Alexandria, I would often eat lunch off a nearby pier and watch the Grey Herons and ducks feed in the tidal shallows. Down in Stafford we have a Blue Heron rookery with over 300 nesting pairs at the Crows Nest Natural Area Preserve.

The Twisted Genius

Medicine Man,

On second thought, the big grey birds I always called grey herons may be blue herons. When they fly, SWMBO and I refer to them as pterodactyls.

Medicine Man

TTG: The most fascinating thing about herons is how they move. They are so ungainly and raucous in the air but so sure-footed, nimble, and precise on the ground.

I also like how they grumble like old men when they feel their territory is being infringed upon.


TTG, we have them in Florida. Back in my Orlando days, I was fishing on Merritt Island, at the Haulover Canal and turned to find one about 5 feet away, waiting for me to throw him a fish. I damn near jumped in the canal. Pterodactyls indeed! It just creeped me right out.

different clue

John Minnerath,

The common egret will have the longest legs and longest neck relative to its body of these three birds. The legs should be a dull yellow. The snowy egret should be "much" smaller with proportionately shorter legs and neck but still slim-bodied. Its legs are black with bright yellow feet. The cattle egret should be thicker-bodied and shorter-necked and a little bigger than snowy. That's all I can remember at this point.

Jag Pop

Is there a special relationship between cats and catbirds?

For a long stretch of days in a row a cat we had would converse every morning with a catbird. How they chose the time to meet I do not know.

The cat would go to the porch screen door and make a cackling noise (perhaps you have witnessed a cat make this noise yourself). The catbird would sit in a branch about twelve feet away and respond with a scolding call.

Back and forth, each would try to get in the last word.

John Minnerath

Different clue
Just grabbed info from one of my bird books.
We have none of those waders here. Only the Great Blue Heron and it's very common. Some huge rookeries nearby.
Then we also have Whooping and Sandhill Cranes, but those we usually see out in open fields.

different clue

John Minnerath,

You have probably told us before where you live in general and I have forgotten. Sometimes one has to go to the "right places" to see Common Egret, but if any of those right places are in your general region, enough visits to them may eventually get one seen. Also, in many species of herons, the young of the year begin drifting aimlessly north, sometimes hundreds of miles; after becoming able to fly. Late Summer and Fall might offer common egrets which wouldn't be around earlier.

Whooping cranes out in open fields? Those are still rare enough that if you have them there it would be worthwhile getting good clear telephoto pictures of them to show them to people, especially other birdwatchers in your area.


I would be most grateful if anyone who understands what is going on in Macedonia would be willing to post. Russia and EU+US on opposite sides again.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad