Meaning of catbird in English:


Pronunciation /ˈkatbəːd/


  • 1A long-tailed American songbird of the mockingbird family, with mainly dark grey or black plumage and catlike mewing calls.

    Two genera and species, family Mimidae

    ‘Not only is the Cape flush with cardinals, towhees, mockingbirds, catbirds, goldfinches and woodpeckers, its birds of the shore entice many a visitor here.’
    • ‘We saw lots of catbirds, blackbirds, mockingbirds, cardinals, crows, and grackles.’
    • ‘Although first cousin to the melodious mockingbird, a catbird's song is seldom musical.’
    • ‘Of course, we spotted starlings, pigeons, doves, catbirds, grackles, blackbirds, cardinals, robins, blue jays, and mockingbirds, along with the expected three species of woodpecker.’
    • ‘Robins, hummingbirds, catbirds, thrushes and even a grouse or two, usually not attracted by seed feeders, are drawn to this water in our backyard garden.’
    • ‘Among birds that can be attracted in the summer are brown thrashers, catbirds, robins, thrushes, waxwings, woodpeckers, orioles, cardinals, towhees and grosbeaks.’
    • ‘I'll bet if we put meal worms out on a platform - as some folks do during the winter for bluebirds - robins, catbirds and others would gobble them up!’
    • ‘The most famous mimic in this family is the northern mockingbird, followed closely by the gray catbird, which is so-named because of its ability to imitate the mewing of a cat.’
    • ‘She saw many colorful birds that she knew only from the books she studied: a cardinal and its mate, a cowbird, a catbird, two blue jays, and what she thought was a titmouse.’
    • ‘I don't understand how so many other people are able to feed their catbirds and orioles.’
    • ‘Round the list out with the expected sparrows, cardinals, crows, starlings, doves, and catbirds, and you've got a nice hour of birding.’
    • ‘Cardinals and catbirds enjoy whatever the pear tree has to tempt them.’
    • ‘It is probably catbirds' habit of flicking dead leaves aside with their bill that exposes catbirds to questing ticks.’
    • ‘This aged tree knows that the only invitation catbirds need to start building their nests is a sturdy bush where they can find shelter and a place to raise a family.’
    • ‘Where there are briars or large, dense shrubs, catbirds are sure to be present.’
    • ‘Instead of a symphony of song, we were treated to little more than the mewling of catbirds.’
    • ‘We predicted, based on the egg mimicry hypothesis, that robins and catbirds would eject white cuckoo eggs and accept mimetic blue cuckoo eggs.’
    • ‘She and her colleagues collected a total of 30 individuals from among gray catbirds, Swainson's thrashes, and wood thrashes.’
    • ‘For the record, we also saw lots of catbirds, sparrows, and other New York birds of summer.’
    • ‘Because catbirds inhabit such dense shrubby areas and are more likely heard than seen, I am often surprised by how many people tell me that their favorite bird is the catbird.’
  • 2A thickset Australasian bird of the bowerbird family, having a loud call like a yowling cat.

    Genus Ailuroedus (and Scenopoeetes), family Ptilonorhynchidae: several species


    in the catbird seat
    North American informal
    • In a superior or advantageous position.

      • ‘we'll stay in the catbird seat in international agriculture’
      • ‘For several years, design professionals sat in the catbird seat, able to parlay personnel shortages in a boom market into significant pay and benefit packages.’
      • ‘They enjoy being in the catbird seat, perched at a high elevation, with a commanding view of a vast expanse of open air, high above the landmass below.’
      • ‘‘Michael wants to know how the view is up there in the catbird seat,’ Norris replied.’
      • ‘Today founders are in the catbird seat when investors come calling.’
      • ‘The police are in the catbird seat, but do not seem to realize it.’
      • ‘In fact, everything about the insurance company suggests they know they're in the catbird seat.’
      • ‘Sooner or later the customer will need brakes or shocks or a major service and suddenly the dealer is in the catbird seat.’
      • ‘Magazines have weathered the on-line storm, as it were, and are back in the catbird seat.’
      • ‘Observers say that today's ride not only puts him in the catbird's seat, but in great shape for a seventh consecutive Tour de France win.’
      • ‘For now, though, he's in the catbird's seat again, doing what he does best: coach the ball team.’
      • ‘‘This is a triumph of his, not a desperate, tragic failure,’ she said by phone, recounting that she was sitting in her husband's chair he called his catbird seat in the Rockies.’
      • ‘The catbird seat can't remain vacant, but who is there to fill it?’


      Said to be an allusion to a baseball player in the fortunate position of having no strikes and therefore three balls still to play (a reference made in James Thurber's short story The Catbird Seat).