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Backyard Bird--The Catbird It's quiet now. Gone is the constant chatter, whistles and meowing sounds as you jump from branch to branch safeguarding your territory against all trespassers. Gone too is the uniform gray body offset with the black cap and tail feathers, with just a smidgen of rust coloration under the tail coverts, that allows you to blend in with your natural habitat of dense udergrowth and thickets. They call you a skulker, a bird hard to see in the dense underbrush. Usually heard but now seen. Definitely NOT a backyard bird. Except in my backyard. Maybe it's because my back yard is filled with trees and dense undergrowth along the rear and side fences. Or maybe it's because there is a wooded area of trees and underbrush in the low-lying parcel of land across the street. Or maybe it's because of a reason I can't fully understand. I know you don't stay becasue of my bird feeders, because you don't have birdseed in you diet. You prefer insects, spiders and fruit berries instead. But whatever the reason, I'm grateful. I'm grateful that you have chosen my yard as your place to breed and have chicks. And not just this year. But last year too. Definitely unusual. I'm delighted to watch you jump and fly from one low hanging branch to another, or from one small tree to another, constantly chattering or meowing your right of territory. But I never did get to see your mate's nest. You never led me there. So I don't know how many chicks you fledged and whether they all survived. But it's late summer now. And it's quiet again. Are you already heading south on your long migration journey? To southern Florida? Or Texas? Or even to eastern Mexico? I understand that for this trip, you've teamed up with some other catbirds, so that you are in a group of a dozen or so. For protection? For guidance? Whatever the reason, I hope your migration south and your return next year is successful. I would really like it if you or one of your chicks return to my yard. I look forward to your whistles and meowing as you defend your territory and build your nest. But until next year, "skulker" catbird, Goodbye... Gary Machado has been a field and backyard birdwatcher for over 30 years. You may visit his site at: http://www.bird-feeders-and-more.com

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