Monday, August 1, 2011

Young Gray Catbird fledgling

I have had Gray Catbirds visit my yard for past 8 or so years since a pair nested in an overgrown shrub (laced with invading vine) right under my dining room window. I like to think it is either the same pair of birds or their offspring who visit and often engage in counter-singing with me (yes, the catbird would sing, pause and I would whistle their song, the catbird would sing again, alternating sometimes for several minutes). I cleaned up that shrub so they don't nest in my yard anymore but appear to nest somewhere close in my neighborhood as one and sometimes two adult catbirds pay frequent visits in the spring. They also usually bring their offspring to meet me--well, that's what I would like to think but I realize they like all the fruit bearing plants and trees plus nice thick vegetation to hide them in.

Several days ago I heard what sounded like fledgling calls coming from a shrub in my next door neighbors front yard. After carefully approaching I spotted an adult catbird bringing food to an apparent but hidden fledgling (I got a little video but haven't had time to upload and edit it yet). Then day before yesterday I heard the fledgling calling again, this time from one of my purple ash trees in my front yard. It took some time to find it as it was 15-20 feet up on a branch that partially obscured it and here are pics of that young fledgling (see how short it's tail is). In the top pic it's creamy colored gape flanges are quite obvious. It's "dark pinkish buff" (as noted in Birds of North America BNA online) can be seen in both pics. The feathers on it's underparts look quite gray to me and likely mostly still natal down (though BNA says "Juvenal feathers loosely textured."--so maybe this is not down??). However, the undertail coverts stand out as they are colored "buffy to pale rufous" (again per BNA). A few very odd looking feather tracts come up from it's head like a spike hairdo (have to enlarge by clicking on pic then clicking again on it to see this).
For the past two days at least one fledgling catbird has been in my backyard and the adult was feeding it some partially ripened crabapples from my trees but I couldn't spot the fledgling. SeEtta