catbirds gone, too quiet

Elaine_NJ6September 29, 2003

All of a sudden, the catbirds are gone. I have these wonderful, noisy, boisterous birds all over my garden, all summer long. I think they nest in the miniwoodland. They spend their time dive-bombing the raspberries all day long, screaming in ecstacy as they eat the big, juicy berries. They are also quite enthusiastic about elderberries, crabapples, dogwood berries, and many other fruits, but the raspberries really get them worked up. All of a sudden, last week, I realized that things were much quieter than they had been for months. The catbirds have migrated south. I miss them.

I think the robins also migrated late last week, right before a rainy weekend. They gathered in large flocks, and then they were gone.

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AsterixnObelix(z7NY)

I guess I should count myself lucky. I have a pair that are still hanging around battling the Northern Mocker for food. They are listed as shy, but everytime I am in the backyard they approach to see if I am going to put any tidbits out.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2003 at 5:09PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

I saw my Catbirds today eating Pokeweed berries. They also have been helping themselves to the Honeysuckle vine berries.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2003 at 5:11PM
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jillmcm(z6 PA)

Our catbirds are still pigging out on suet and berries. They're quieter now that the young of the year are growing up - they're a lot noisier during courtship and nesting. I love that rufous rump!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2003 at 9:45PM
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vonyon

It has been very quiet here lately. Except for blue jays and crows, most of the birds are gone. I miss them too. I thought that it was molting season for a lot of birds, but I don't see them coming back.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2003 at 4:45PM
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LNMP(z5 NY)

No catbirds here, but our resident goldfinches had a second brood recently. The fledglings have been making lots of noise, begging their parents for sunflower seeds. I made sure to put out more seed tonight, since we're anticipating an early frost.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2003 at 6:17PM
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pheobuscottage(7b VA)

I too have noticed a bird changeover. I heard geese flying over the other day. We are in a good spot to have a full compliment of winter birds and it seems like the robins and so forth are here year-round. I saw a chipping sparrow yesterday, which I hadn't seen before. He must have come down from up north. Many of our birds lost their nests in hurricane Isabel. The Mourning doves and Blue jays seemed to fare okay. Mockingbirds have been eating my pokeberries, but I haven't seen a catbird for a while.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2003 at 5:55PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

I haven't seen my Catbirds since Sunday. Before that they were busy on the Arrowood Viburnum berries everyday. I miss them as they are one of my very favorite birds. Goldfinches hang out all day long around here!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2003 at 11:08AM
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Elaine_NJ6

Interesting that you have berries on your arrowwood viburnum in October. Mine is always stripped clean the minute they ripen--maybe because the shrub is right next to the gray dogwood, and they ripen at the same time. The chokeberry berries in that bed also get devoured at the same time, while the ones planted elsewhere remain until later winter.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2003 at 8:36AM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Last year I only had Mockingbirds eating the Arrowood Berries. This year its mostly the Catbirds but the Mockingbirds also get some of the berries.

I had bought another species Arrowood late this summer on sale that I am hoping is going to polinate the two from last year so they get a better berry set. Then I also bought some other clones instead of the species. Also, I think my Blue Pearl Arrowood will bloom well next year so I am hoping for lots more Arrowood berries in the future.

Interesting that I had the one I bought sitting in its nursery pot right next to the ones in the ground from last year. It has berries also but the birds ate berries from the shrubs in the ground before they started on the one in the pot. Just in the last few days, there is barely a berry on the older Arrowoods and the nursery pot shrub has been loosing berries also. They are not falling on the ground so something eats them. I just planted that Arrowood shrub in its permenent location and had it sitting there afew days so berries on it are going in its new location too.

So now I have this shrub were I can see it from inside my house. I couldn't really see the other ones from inside the house unless I pressed my nose up against one window and looked at an odd angle. Even then I could only see a small part of the shrubs. But I would know that the Catbirds were in there because they were 'talking' away.

I have never seen anything other than the Catbirds or Mockingbirds eating the Arrowood Berries. I have lots of Cardinals but although I have seen them eat Kousa Dogwood fruit and Mulberries, I never saw them even in the Arrowwood shrub, much less eating the berries. Maybe they were too happy eating the seeds of the Buckwheat that they liked to hang out in.

My Black Aronia berries disappear within a week of ripening for the second year in a row now and I do see Catbirds, Mockingbirds and Grackles eating them. Planted more Black Aronia this year and plan on adding some of the Red also next year.

The Robins haven't come thru here his year yet. I know every Fall they come thru in large flocks and strip all the berries from the Dogwood trees. The eating goes on everday (last year about 4 days) until the berries are stripped and then they leave. After that I don't see the Robins until Spring.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2003 at 3:25PM
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Elaine_NJ6

I have just one arrowwood (the species) and get lots of berries. This spring I put in a second V. prunifolium (species) because the first one bloomed heavily but set almost no berries.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2003 at 2:43PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

You must have some Arrowwood somewhere in the neighborhood. You would think I would have some around the neighborhood also, what with the Nature Preserve and the park but no suck luck. The Catbirds are always into any berries around here as well as sifting thru leaf litter looking for bugs. I miss them. Lately, however, there have been many Song Sparrows around and today I saw a female Junco. My first of the season.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2003 at 1:28PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Well, since the Catbirds have been gone, I have noticed that the berries on the Arrowood Viburnums that were left there are still there. So are the pokeweed berries, both of which the Catbirds used to eat commonly. I did see some white throated Sparrows eating the fruits of the dogwood trees but thats about it as far as seeing berry eating. I know the Mockingbirds must eat something around here as I see them around everyday. I guess after the weather turns cold, the birds will be into the winterberries.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2003 at 2:51PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

The Catbirds that used to hang out in my garden are gone but I did see Catbirds hanging out and eating the berries off the porcelain berry vines that are growing around the County Nature Preserve closeby in my walks yesterday and today.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2003 at 3:16PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

I wonder when the Catbirds come back in the Spring. Last year was the first year for me that they had been around the garden all year. Can't remember when they arrived though.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2004 at 9:59PM
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sarahbn(z6Pa.)

Same time as the hummingbirds late April early May I noticed them last year the first of May at Bartram's Gardens. Sarah

    Bookmark   March 5, 2004 at 10:47PM
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Elaine_NJ6

They arrive late. I heard a cardinal in my backyard this morning--just one tentative song. That means it's time to give the Virginia creeper a haircut and cut the butterfly bushes to the ground (those two were a big mistake I planted before I knew to plant only natives). And rake the leaves off some of the spring ephemerals to see if anything's coming up yet.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2004 at 4:42PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Well, I have been waiting but nothing yet. I really hope the Catbirds come back this year as I enjoyed them so much last year.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2004 at 11:43AM
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Elaine_NJ6

I have heard them but not seen them yet. That wonderful scream is unmistakable, however.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2004 at 6:31PM
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Ilovecatbirds(SE Mass.)

Our Catbirds usually arrive here on Cape Cod the first week of May(along with some Hummers). The Catbirds are here now, but not doing their wonderful song very much. My husband and I think that is because the leaves are not on the trees here yet, and they are still looking where to nest and be hidden. Orioles everywhere though.
Lets hope the Catbirds start singing in ernest this week, as the trees are finally getting their leaves.
We had the coldest January on record in MA, so some of the evergreen shrubs ended up losing all their leaves! And sadly, all my roses died.
Spring is slowly coming though, thank goodness.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2004 at 2:37PM
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Elaine_NJ6

Saw one today. Heard him screaming his head off, and finally saw him in my woodland. Or her. I love them--they're so feisty.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2004 at 3:50PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

I thought I heard one in the backyard early today but since there was a Mockingbird around that area I figgured it was the Mockingbird doing Catbird immatations. But to my great joy I just saw two Catbirds flying around in the neighbors Oak tree right next to my property. I am so releaved to see them this spring. I was really getting concerned since others on the forum had their neighborhood Catbirds return already and no sign of them here until today. Hurray for Catbirds. Have to be my favorite birds.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2004 at 5:42PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

The Catbirds have been very scarce here this year unfortunately. Yesterday they were trying to get to eat some of the Serviceberries but the Mockingbird have a fit and drove them off. Earlier in the day I had seen the Mockingbird fighting with another Mockingbird that was trying to get some Serviceberries for itself.

I see the Orioles back there alot, though. Never seen as much of the Orioles as I have this year with all the fruit in the yard but they are here every year. I also see Robins eating the Serviceberry fruit.

The birds start with the Serviceberies and when the Blueberries start to ripen they just move on to eating those. Right now, they are finishing the last of the Serviceberries and have been eating the Blueberies as I have also.

The Red Berries from the Red Elderbery are gone so something ate those too. The Red Elderberries are the only one of my elderberries to fruit so far. I hope they all do next year.

Meanwhile, I miss seeing the Catbirds multiple times each day as I did last summer.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2004 at 12:27PM
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clcknits(Zone7 USA)

I have quite a few catbirds here this summer. They love the mealworms that I put out every day and the special peanut butter suet that I make for them.
Gotta love them!
Cathy

    Bookmark   June 26, 2004 at 7:14PM
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sarahbn(z6Pa.)

I have a ton of catbirds every year but no mockingbirds what so ever. Although there is one down the street at the nursery. 2 weeks ago, I was driving into town in Fairmount park anyway a redtail hawk flew right in front of my car so low that I slowed down to see where he was going he stopped at the lamppost and I saw with my own eyes a mockingbird attacking him/her He nearly pecked him to death. Those mockingbirds are pretty aggressive. Sarah

    Bookmark   June 27, 2004 at 9:49PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

The Catbirds are around most everyday now because they are eating the red fruits of the Trumpet Honeysuckle Vines. Go figgure. They must love these as they check them out multiple times a day just like they did with the Serviceberries last year!

Besides the Honeysuckle fruits right now in my yard the Black Chokeberries are getting ripe. We will see if the Catbirds go for them. Besides that the only other fruits are the Raspberries and Strawberries but the birds leave them alone.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2004 at 8:09PM
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JimDC(z7 DC)

My Catbirds seem to have departed recently. They are loud and very aggressive toward other birds and squirrels, but I enjoy them immensely. Most of the summer they would keep me company while I worked in the garden. It was funny, they would sit on my fence and move along with me as I worked in various areas of the yard (they would always keep a distance of about 10 feet).

    Bookmark   August 4, 2004 at 12:16PM
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newjerseytea

Jim, I realized this morning that I'd not heard the catbirds recently. It's too early for them to be gone and I thought that perhaps the cooper's hawk got them. The cats usually don't leave until the spice bush berries are gone.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2004 at 6:36PM
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Elaine_NJ6

If birds stick around while you work in the garden, it's probably because you're stirring things up and scattering insects as you do. The birds are not dumb!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2004 at 6:51PM
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sarahbn(z6Pa.)

I always see them in the garden they always come out to see what I am up too and I guess eat all those bugs I stir up too. Sarah

    Bookmark   August 4, 2004 at 10:49PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

As soon as I mowed my lawn the otherday, the Catbirds were hopping around in the new, very short grass catching bugs.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2004 at 10:26PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

The berries on my Species Arrowood Viburnum have been turning blue and steadily being eaten my the Catbirds and Mockingbirds as soon as they turn ripe. I am surprised that the berries are almost gone so this food source is not even going to last into the Fall here.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2004 at 1:34PM
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sarahbn(z6Pa.)

That's great Rita! I have an arrowwood blue muffin with loads of fruit but the birds haven't touched it. Sarah

    Bookmark   August 29, 2004 at 9:33PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

My Arrowwood Viburnum Berries start to get eaten as soon as they ripen with both Catbirds and Mockingbirds always visiting the shrubs. Of course, the Catbirds have been gone for quite a while now so only the Mockingbird is left, but those berries are long gone also.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2004 at 11:55AM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Waiting for the Catbirds to show up again this spring.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 6:38PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Saw my first Catbird of the year in the garden just afew minutes ago!!! Hurray!!! They are my favorite bird. I know they are not as showey as the Cardinals or Orioles but I really like these birds. When they are not around I miss them.

There should be plenty of fruit for them this year as my plantings are starting to mature and fruit.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 6:18PM
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Elaine_NJ6

I've heard them in the past week but not seen them yet.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2005 at 8:14AM
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Elaine_NJ6

I think they're gone already. In fact, it might be a week or so since they left. The robins may be gone too, but they're quieter so it's harder to tell. But all of a sudden the loudest sounds I hear are the cardinals clicking, so I'm pretty sure the catbirds are gone. Seems early, so maybe they know something we don't.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2005 at 12:12PM
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loris(Z6 NJ)

Elaine,

I saw two in my yard yesterday, and my husband said they were being vocal during the week about some work we're doing in our yard. I think they've been quieter in general lately.

I'm in Union county, and if my memory's correct that's probably about a 30 minutes drive south of where you are.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2005 at 1:16PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Mine are still here.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 1:30PM
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Elaine_NJ6

After a silent week, the catbirds were very much in evidence yeaterday and today! Go figure! Maybe the residents left and this is a bunch migrating from farther north. Or maybe I'm extremely unobservant.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 2:10PM
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wardw(z6 NJ)

In south Jersey Catbirds remain in small numbers until after Christmas, and a few of those sometimes make it through until spring if there are enough left over berries and it is one of those mild winters. A surprising number of non-hardy birds attempt to winter in our area. Other ones that regularly show up on Christmas Bird Counts include: Baltimore Oriole, Brown Thrasher, and Common Yellowthroat, and in recent years western species of hummingbirds. There are dozens of other examples too. It is somewhat hard to tell exactly when the peak of catbird migration is, the bird is so abundant. It is probably safe to say that the peak has ended by the beginning of October, although diminishing numbers continue to be seen through the end of the year.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 2:26PM
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serenoa(z8b, FL)

According to my notes, I've had catbirds in my north Florida yard October through November and late February to early May. I don't know if I missed them in December and January or if they move further south during our coldest months. The black gum fruits that catbirds love are ripening now and I've been looking for them.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2005 at 5:57PM
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wardw(z6 NJ)

You may not have the conditions that Catbirds need in winter. Up here they are usually found in large shrub thickets that are growing on wet soil. Then again maybe you do since black gums at least up here also tend to grow in wet soil. You should check those gums for other birds besides catbirds. They are particularly loved by the thrush clan (all species), but other berry loving birds like Red-eyed Vireo and Scarlet Tanager also use them. There are even berry loving warblers like Black-throated Blue and Cape May. My yard when I was a child had a big gum by the driveway, and all my life thrushes except possibly Wood Thrush which nested in the yard were seen in that tree.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2005 at 10:59AM
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serenoa(z8b, FL)

Wardw, winter migrants in their winter range tend to not stake out territories, nest or call for mates. I have a thick hedgerow of native trees and shrubs over four hundred feet long that is adequate habitat for catbirds. I can speculate on their presence or absence but I note only what I see. You are right about watching the black gums. Besides catbirds, I have seen tanagers, thrushes, bluebirds, flickers, red-bellied woodpeckers and more feeding on their fruits. The only veery I have ever seen was in one of my black gums last fall. I heartily recommend them to wildlife gardeners.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2005 at 8:17AM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

serenoa,, when you mentioned on the attracting birds-some lessons learned thread about the catbird thread, I have to check it out:-) I had no idea black gum attracted fruit-eating birds. After reading yours and wardw's comments,I might have to plant one!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 6:20AM
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wardw(z6 NJ)

Yes, the fruiting of black gums is perfectly timed for fall migrants. Another is staghorn sumac. Many folks think of it more as a weed, often seen growing along interstates, but it has its qualities. Besides a lot fruit in its candles it colors up nicely, something black gums also do. Recently cut-leafed types have come on the market. I've had one for several years in my front yard. The only thing is, it hasn't set fruit yet, and I've begun to wonder whether it ever will.

Serenoa - there's an easy way to find out whether you have catbirds in your hedgerow in winter, spish at them. Catbirds can't resist spishing at any time of year, they must come and look. If you don't know what spishing is, think of the way people attract the attention of their cats, by repeated blowing short bursts of air to make a short hissing sound. Birders have known this for generations. It mimics the mobbing of predators by small birds - very effective in the eastern US.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 9:45AM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

wardw, is the black gum you're talking about the same as black tupelo? What is the scientific name? thanks.
VG

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 2:29PM
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serenoa(z8b, FL)

Black gum and tupelo are names for the same thing. I haven't heard black tupelo but it makes sense. The scientific name is Nyssa sylvatica.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 8:01AM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

Serenoa, thanks! I thought it must be the same thing but glad to know for sure.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 9:22PM
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Elaine_NJ6

I think they really are gone now. And the robins herded together recently, presumably leaving as well. Right now we have a lot of very active blue jays all over the place. I've never been aware of so many before. Hope they don't chase away the cardinals and other overwintering birds. There's certainly plenty of food for all.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2005 at 9:53AM
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wardw(z6 NJ)

We're still seeing dozens of catbirds in our migrant spot along the Delaware River. A few will remain at least into November feeding on berries such as Virginia Creeper, pokeweed, poison ivy, and sumac.

Robins have begun to switch to berries, the big flocks hitting favorable locations. We see thousands in the evening in Medford heading for their night roosts. In my area smaller flocks will remain all winter, and down at the Delaware Bay Shore thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, will overwinter in the American Holly forests.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2005 at 1:23PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Waiting for the Catbirds to come back, haven't seen any this spring yet! Cardinals and Mockingbirds are starting to build nests, I see both gathering twigs and grasses in my yard all this week.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 6:38PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Hurray!!! The Catbirds are back today. Already saw the Orioles this year also. Plus Blue Jays made a nest in one of my big blue spruce trees.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2006 at 11:14PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

This year the Catbirds are really enjoying my garden. I see two of them many times during the day and often see and hear them sitting and singing that sweaky song of theirs. Usually I have to wait for something to set fruit that they come to eat for them to be around this much but not this year. I think its because my yard is thicker with shruberry than it ever has been before as much of what I have been planting for the last 5 years is starting to fill in and look more like what I had intended!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 8:13PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Catbirds and other berry eaters having a feast here this year as my goumi and serviceberries are fruiting like crazy.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 1:43PM
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terryr(z5a IL)

Rita, do you have pictures online anywhere? I'd love to see how your garden has grown!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2007 at 11:08PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

No, i have a camera but am very bad at posting pictures. Mainly I just never seem to find the time to take pictures and upload them to the computer.

The catbirds and others really like the mixed shrub border (many viburnums with silky and grey dogwood, serviceberry, shrub cherries, dwarf cherry trees, elderberry, and many others) that has now matured so that it does look like the edge of a woodland just like I had immagined when I planted it. Just past it on the other side, is my neighbors garage and driveway and in most of the shrub border, you can't even tell they are there or whats behind it. I love it and so do the birds.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 2:16PM
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terryr(z5a IL)

My camera only takes about 2 minutes to upload over a hundred images. Then when I go to Photobucket, I can load as many as I want there. Again not much time. I just think it would be neat to see some before, during and after. I'm keeping track of mine just to see the difference from one year to the next. Currently I have all my photos in the same album. I need to create a new one for outside photos.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 6:25PM
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vonyon

Oh Rita, You give me hope. I can't wait until I can't see my neighbors!! ;o)

If you ever do get some time to take some pictures, we'd reallllllly love to see it. Photobucket makes it really simple to post them.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 10:08PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I have really enjoyed reading some of these older threads, there is a lot of good information in them. I really enjoy gardening for wildlife but my gardens are a little behind some of the other posters here. I would love to see pictures of how your gardens have turned out Rita (and anybody else), if you ever get around to it.

Re the catbirds - they have always hung around in my yard, because of the plantings and the birdbaths. They seem to take a LOT of baths! This winter I put up a Suet Log right outside a window and the catbirds love the homemade suet mixture, so I get to see them up close and personal.

They do seem to be curious about what I'm doing in the yard sometimes, kind of like the Chickadees. I also enjoy their pretty songs when they aren't making that whiny cat sound.

Also I dug out an old Burning Bush and replaced it with a 6 foot Serviceberry this Spring (BIG improvement). The berries are ripening and the Catbirds are on the Serviceberry every day.

They are fun birds to have around!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 4:20PM
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vonyon

C'mon, Terrene.....we've seen pics of your bird paradise! What do you mean your garden is behind others? Whatever you plant, it will catch up within a few years. I did the bulk of my native shrub borders about 3 years ago and they are really quite big now. I only bought "small" stuff from NH nursery at the time and a couple of pricey things from Garden in the Woods to get started. You should see all the berries that are in the process of setting now! I'll try to go out and take some pictures. I have to admit, you can still see the neighbors :o(.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 10:18PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Hey Vonyon...yes there is lots here to attract the birds. There are many mature native trees and also gardens in the front yard that are a few years old with bird baths and plantings the birds enjoy. Not to mention the feeders.

But the back yard is a mess...a couple good-sized beds in the formative stages with baby plants (like the NH Nursery seedlings) and the rest looks like a hurricane has gone through! A friend and I have been cutting out Norway maples and there are piles of brush and logs everywhere.

Now that I think about it, the birds really LIKE all the branches and piles laying around! :)

If all goes well, in a few short years there will be lots more here for the birds.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 10:34AM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

My Catbirds just arrived today from thier Winter down south. They are my favorite backyard birds. I hope they nest here again like they did last year. Today they were already having a big fight with the local Mockingbirds, lots of scolding at each other from both sides.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 10:36PM
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