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James Thurber

Catbirds keep a close eye on gardeners

Our neighbors have cats. So when I heard what sounded like a cat stranded up a tree, I went searching for the sound. Instead of a cat, though, the meow-like call was coming from a Dumetella carolinensis (grey catbird). The catbird was aware of my every move as it watched me and meowed from a high perch that gave it a clear view of its surroundings. Which reminds me, it wasn't the first time that I'd been fooled by a catbird into thinking a cat was close, and the meow-like call it was making was a signal to other catbirds that danger was close by. I was the danger it was announcing, and incidentally it was doing so from a classic "catbird's seat" — a term...