For reasons I will never know, gray catbirds chose not to nest in my backyard this year. Since spring, I have been both looking and listening for this secretive bird. Since I did not hear or see a catbird by the end of the third week in July, I was convinced I would not see one near my home this year.
However, less than a week ago, one flew in and landed on a wire suet feeder hanging outside my home office. I could not believe my eyes! I immediately stopped working at my computer and watched the bird as it ate a couple of chunks of peanut butter-flavored bird pudding. I was just getting ready to snap a photo of the feeding bird when a brown thrasher scared the catbird away when it flew in the claim its share of the food.
After the thrasher left, the catbird returned and briefly fed again. Then it vanished. This time it fed on the bird pudding while it was perched atop the feeder as a downy woodpecker fed while hanging on the side of the feeder.
Over the years, gray catbirds have rarely visited my feeders. When they have shown up, they have always fed on suet. I have never seen one eat any birdseed. However, they are purported to eat fruit-flavored suit, jelly, cornbread, peanut butter and raisins. They will also occasionally feed at hummingbird feeders.
While I have not been successful attracting catbirds to my feeders, they will regularly visit my birdbaths.
The catbirds that inhabit my yard during summers past have apparently been content to feed on berries and invertebrates. In late summer, they feed on American beautyberries.
I hope the gray catbird that recently made a late appearance in my yard, will hang around at least until the American beautyberries ripen. If it does, perhaps it will serenade me with its cat-like call and long (up to 10 minutes) highly variable song.
As you can tell, I greatly appreciate the return of the catbird.