Sunday, May 10, 2009

The More Things Change...

"The oldest reported gray catbird lived for ten years and eleven months.

"They rarely return to the same breeding site in successive years."

So the catbirds that have lived with us for the past thirty summers could not possibly be the same catbirds -- even though they look, act, and sound absolutely identically from annum to annum.

This year's edition showed up last week. Mars looked out the kitchen window and saw one of them gathering nesting materials on the border between our house and our neighbors'.

The nest will most likely be about halfway up the rhododendron tree that sits right along our east/west dividing line. The shrub is thick enough to shield the roost from voyeuristic visitors, and the little gray thrushes are active enough to make it difficult to pinpoint their home quarters.

Before the summer is over, either our neighbors or us will inadvertently invade the protective territory around the nest. This will probably occur during the ten to eleven days that the hatchlings are still altricial and the parents are at their most protective, and will set off a flurry of screams and threatening flight patterns. The intruder will quickly back off, and that portion of the foliage will remain asymmetrically untrimmed for the remainder of the season.

Other times, for no apparent reason, one or both of the birds will harangue us with a rant of feline-like howls. Nothing that we do will shut them up. Eventually, apparently satisfied that they have made their point, they will simply stop.

Sometime in early autumn we will no longer see them - no good byes.

But for now, "The catbird's back."

Both of us realized it wasn't really the same birds year after year long before we found the catbird FAQs on But we continue to act and speak as if each visit was in fact simply just another re-visit -- like the movie "Groundhog Day".

Heraclitus said: "You cannot step into the same river twice, for fresh waters are ever flowing in upon you." Nothing stays the same.

Heraclitus obviously never had a catbird for a houseguest.

No comments: