Catbirds in the Pokeweed

We have a large "crop" of pokeweed on our Missouri property this year and, over the past few days, gray catbirds have emerged from their woodland retreats to feed on the purple-black berries.  Usually seen alone or in pairs, at least a dozen catbirds were feasting in the stand today, joined by a large flock of cedar waxwings; indeed, though I have been a birder for almost forty years, this was the largest congregation of gray catbirds that I have ever encountered.

Perhaps the catbirds have already established a flock in preparation for their migration; then again, two or three families may have been attracted to the same patch of pokeweed.  In either case, the berries will soon be consumed and they'll move on, eventually heading to the Gulf Coast for the winter.

Nature watching often provides new and unexpected experiences, even for veteran naturalists.  While we may be intimately familiar with certain plants and animals in our environment, we occasionally encounter them in new settings or under new circumstances.  Today's assembly of gray catbirds was a fascinating discovery, even after decades of birding.