25 June 2009

Catbird in the backyard with something in its beak

I have been seeing a catbird* (Dumetella carolinensis) in the backyard. There must be a nearby nest in the vicinity close to the house†. Their name comes from the distinctive cry uttered with an open mouth as in the picture below. It is supposed to sound like a meow, but to me, it sounds more like a long, high-pitched me.

catbird1

The funny thing was every time this bird flipped its tail down, it would dip in the bird bath. But, otherwise, I did not see the bird enter the water.

When the tail is lifted up, the reddish coverts under the tail become visible (according to the books, they are "chestnut" colored). There must be some evolutionary significance to their color and display.

catbird2

At one point during this photo session, I saw the bird with something in its beak. But I just can't tell what it was. What do catbirds usually eat?

catbird3


*The full name is gray catbird, although neither of my bird books lists catbirds of any other color.
That was an exercise in redundancy.

3 comments:

John said...

I have always heard the catbird's call as closer to "chewy" or simply "ow" than "meow."

Catbirds eat invertebrates and fruit. I'm not really sure what it has in the photograph, but since it's breeding season, it's probably an insect.

Nuthatch said...

There is also a Black Catbird in Latin America, although it's in a different genus.

xoggoth said...

Hey! The little barsteward has got one of my cherries I bet! Every other bird has.