The restrained but extravagant repetitions of a singing catbird fall as gently as rain onto the ear. Many mockingbirds fill the neighborhood with their boisterous notes at high volume. I remember how delighted we were when they moved north to regale New England with their brilliant, tireless musicianship. Up there, and now, even more obviously here, catbirds became either less numerous or were overpowered by the bigger, crow-related, brash and showy mockingbirds.
Now that I live in true mockingbird territory, when I hear a catbird, even more when one visits the deck or a nearby tree, I get a special thrill of pleasure from the modest and lovely grey bird that sends it.
The towhees my mother used to call “wood robins” fall in the same category of beautiful, graceful, shy birds that seem content to spend their lives and rear their young near human beings.
Plenty of others endear themselves by brilliant plumage like the blue jays and “redbirds.” Even the small house finches flash red and jewel-like past our windows along with sunny, showy goldfinches, indigo buntings on their way to the mountains and the cheeky, noisy, clowning Carolina wrens.
Those less presumptuous, perhaps more humble representatives of avian society seem like some people of similar modesty-- special treasures in our lives.