Urban Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird

Yesterday morning on my way into work I stopped at 155 N. Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago to see if any new birds had blown in with the winds that were downing tree limbs in my neighborhood the night before. My friend of the past couple weeks, one of the two or three Gray Catbirds that’s been hanging out in this little patch of park, immediately came out to greet me.

So while there was bright sunshine except when he perched in a low branch of one of the trees against the building, I decided to take his picture. He almost seemed to demand it. Perhaps he was even a bit irritated with me for coming to look for other birds. Why should I need to look for other birds, if I could see him?

Mind you, I don’t feed this bird, I only acknowledge his presence. He trots out to greet me every morning when I stop to see if he’s still around. There is a connection here, and I don’t claim to understand it, but I think it’s a wonderful thing. It must have something to do with the way in which I notice him. I recognize him, and he recognizes me, and it’s a lot like the person you see on the train every day, smile and nod at, even if you never exchange words. Whatever this bird is up to in this park, he’s enjoying the bugs and I’m enjoying seeing him hunt for them.

I am a bit puzzled by the length of his stay, because Gray Catbirds breed in the savannah areas of the forest preserves around Chicago and more rural areas, and I can’t help but think he’s made himself at home. Wouldn’t it be something to have Gray Catbirds breeding in downtown Chicago!

Anyway, I thought I’d see if I could get a better picture of his gorgeous undertail coverts and he obliged. Then it seemed like almost every picture I took, he was showing off.

Don’t forget to get a picture of my beautiful black crown!

I talk to him, but he’s silent. He hasn’t sung or said a word. I am used to hearing Catbirds in the “wild” and usually, if they’re not singing, they at least let you know they’re watching you by uttering their characteristic “meow”-like vocalization. Maybe that’s why this Catbird likes me. He knows I know who he is without him having to tell me.

4 thoughts on “Urban Gray Catbird

  1. Thanks, HJ. Birds I have bonded with have always seemed to appreciate the attention more than the food, if that came along with it. I mean, I doubt this bird associates me with bugs. ? And I don’t know how many times birds have shown off in front of the camera, but I always feel there’s a connection there too: they feel your eyes, through the camera lens, telling them just how beautiful they are. What it comes down to is we all like praise!

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