Please appreciate the subtle beauty of the American Catbird.
What’s a catbird, you ask???
Ask my cat. He will tell you. A catbird is:
Easy to catch
Fun to kill
Good to eat.
My cat (meowmeow) knows. He has killed dozens of them over the years. No more, though, if I can help it.
Why would a machinery-driving, Harley-driving, pickup truck owner care about a stupid bird???
Dunno, but the effects that a unique species has sometimes on an attentive human can change one’s life.
I can tell you how, over the years, this bird worked it’s song into my soul, and from there, into my being, and after I first heard the catbird song, I never ever forgot it. Here is the story for you if you have some time...
Meet meowmeow. 8 years old, and very capable of grabbing a bird out of the air seven feet off the ground with a flying leap, twisting through the air like an acrobat.
At first I was amazed. Then I was proud. As my affection for birds grew, my horror at their cruel senseless deaths increased exponentially.
Tonight, I caught on film, the courting ritual of two young lovers, second time this week. Catbirds in heat. Babies soon to follow, unless meowmeow finds its nest.
Evolution condemned them to short lives with their absolutely stupid nest locations- in scrubby brush close to the ground. Why, sweet lord, did you design them in this manner?
Couple-a years ago, when I was sawing wood after work, I stopped every half an hour or so to refuel and sharpen the chainsaw. When I did this, there was silence except for this sexy, half hour long songbird song high up in a tree.
I put the video on Facebook and asked if anyone knew what that bird was. The next day a lady identified it as a catbird. That’s the beginning of my story.
I wrote on that Facebook post how the bird sounded like a little old lady gossiping. It’s long song was unique, almost like a human dissertation on the foibles of politicians during crises that affect nations great and small. Coulda been about how the mailman disappeared into the neighbors house and came out 45 minutes later zipping up. That bird’s song was loud, It had words. It possessed numerous unique inflections that were deep and varied, exploring the depths of sound and tone. .........and language? Why does mankind always attempt to elevate above all other species? Why do we think we are the only ones with a language.
Most birds repeat their songs over and over, but
NOT THE CATBIRD. Each song is a different entry into it’s album of life, recapping the days events for all to hear who understand its language, as well as for those who do not.
This realization that there was more to this bird species than a good meal for my cat dawned upon me, and ever since, I have noticed how little I actually know about my environment.
Last year, in the spring, I heard that song again at home and whipped out my phone and took this video:
When I took this video I wanted to get closer yet didn’t want to scare the bird away. I could actually see this bird as it sang, how often does that happen? Never.
When that lady identified the catbird, I was happy that I then knew 7 bird songs:
barn swallow (they no longer live at the nursery)
Wow. I can identify a whopping seven birds by their songs. How many live in Connecticut, five hundred species of birds? And I know seven by song?
Meowmeow now spends all daylight hours INSIDE. No excuses ever. If he gets out, I sneak up on him and re-incarcerate. I only let him out at night when it’s completely dark and no more bird songs. Safe in their nests hopefully. I now get up earlier and earlier to get him back in before he kills more at dawn.
I’m on the second year of his unwilling incarceration and I’m sticking to my guns despite the wailings of my son who claims “he is just doing what comes naturally!”
Last spring I actually caught a catbird caught by meowmeow and tried to save it from its injuries. I rammed the cat inside and carefully placed the almost-dead catbird in a coffee cup to cradle it upright, and left it there for hours. I never saw it fly away nor drop dead, and I searched for its body but couldn’t find it. The pessimist in me feels it died and fell inconspicuously into the leaves below the grill. The realist in me knows it died. I never wish to go through that ever again.
Avondale redbud lit by early sun on my way to work this morning. I drove past it, got to the mailbox, slammed it into reverse and snapped this picture as I thought-
“I’ll never ever see this moment in time ever again”
If there ever were a good example of realizing that moments in time are fast-fleeting and unique to that particular one moment, this is it.
And if there were ever a moment in time to STOP YOUR LIFE and review how it’s being lived, this is it. There IS a silver lining to this epidemic (even as we all worry about dying), and it is the silence and peace that the lockdown has afforded us.
In the morning, because there are no cars making so much noise, I can hear birds. BIRDS!!! Thousands of them, or at least dozens that sound like thousands. I see bluer skies with no contrails. I drive less, sometimes not at all some days. Gas lasts forever now in the tank. I don’t spend money.
There’s less stress at work. People seem more considerate.