[CT Birds] The curious incident of the Catbird in the night-time

David Provencher davidprovencher at sbcglobal.net
Mon May 14 21:13:04 EDT 2012

With apologies to Arthur Conan-Doyle. I sleep with windows open and one of
my bedroom windows faces a close forest edge. Last night I awoke at 3 AM and
realized two dominant sounds could heard. One was a night singing Gray
Catbird. There is much light pollution here, and males will always do silly
things for females (I'm living proof) so it didn't surprise me to hear the
bird singing lustily away at 3 AM. The second sound I heard could only be
described as a terse, angry human sigh emanating from my downstairs. My
daughter being with her mother last night meant the only one who should be
able to sigh in my house was me. I quickly became concerned that someone
uninvited was sharing my abode at 3 AM! So grabbing something lethal, I
quickly got out of bed and prepared to head downstairs. My sudden physical
reorientation change the misleading acoustics I was experiencing, and I
realized this very odd sound was a randomly repeated phrase in the Catbird's
song that seemed to come from inside the house when it truly wasn't. And yet
all the other phrases had clearly been coming from the songster in the
woods! I have never heard such an odd ventriloquial sound coming from a
Catbird, and certainly have never found myself pumped with adrenalin and
holding a weapon in the dark due to one singing! I'm very impressed with
that bird's repertoire, but I do hope he sleeps through the night tonight.  


Dave Provencher

Naturally New England


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