Catbird (mimus Carolinensis, Gray), a bird of the thrush family, peculiar to North America. It receives this name from its well known note, which resembles the mew of a half-grown cat; this is not, however, its only note; its morning and evening song of wild warbling melody is worthy of the musical family to which it belongs. The catbird is found from Maine to Florida, making its appearance from the south toward the last of February, reaching the middle states about the second week in April, and New England about May 1; it is one of the few species which follow the course of agriculture, being rarely found far from the habitations of the farmer. Its general form is more slender and- graceful than that of the American robin. Its plumage is soft and blended, the tail long and rounded at the tip; the bill is black, slightly arched; the general color of the upper plumage is blackish gray or slate color, the head, tail, and inner webs of the quills being of a brownish black; the cheeks and general under plumage are of a deep bluish gray, paler on the abdomen, the under tail coverts being brownish red; the outer tail feather is transversely striped with white on its inner web; the plumage of the female is of a somewhat paler tint.
Length 9 inches, extent of wings 12 inches, length of tarsus 1 1/12 inch. The nest is large, generally made in bramble thickets, and constructed of twigs and briers mixed with leaves, weeds, and grass, lined with dark fibrous roots arranged in a circular manner. The eggs are from four to six in number, of a greenish blue color, without spots. Its food consists of insects and fruits and berries of all kinds, especially of the sweetgum, poke, and sumach. It migrates during the night. It is very lively in its manners, and will follow with impudence for a considerable distance any intruder on its locality, mewing as it sits on a twig, jerking its tail from side to side. It is very irritable, and hates especially cats and snakes. Its attachment to its young is very remarkable, and it will often feed and raise the young of other species. Besides its own song, it possesses considerable imitative power, mocking the notes of other birds in an imperfect manner; according to Latham, it will, when in a domesticated state, imitate strains of instrumental music.
Though this bird is generally persecuted, it deserves the kindest treatment for its services to the agriculturist in devouring wasps, grubs, worms, and insects, which would have destroyed tenfold more growing fruit than it ventures to claim at the season of maturity. Its flesh is good, but is rarely used for food.
Catbird (Mimus Carolinensis).