If you haven’t heard the Gray Catbird’s plaintive mew — well, you haven’t missed much. It’s annoying in its repetitiveness, but really does sound like a cat being strangled. I stumbled upon a pair of Catbirds determined to deter me from poking around in the bushes to find their nest (which I was sure was close by), and I have to say that their persistent mewing finally drove me away.
First one bird, and then its mate joined in mewing loudly in my ears as I walked down the trail. Their typical habit of hopping from branch to branch in a dense thicket meant they were obscured from my view of them, but I caught them peering at me every now and then, checking up, and mewing loudly.
Either I was provoking them by staying around, or I was, in fact, getting too close to their nest, but their defense escalated from merely hopping through the shrubbery while calling to highly visible posturing with feather erection and much louder calls.
When I was 10 feet away from where I took this last shot, the mewing stopped. I wonder if this defense works as well on other would-be predators.