Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  9 (1884–85), 597–601.

The "Tricks and Manners" of a Cat-bird

Olive Thorne Miller



Relevant illustrations:

eng. [3]


Ornithology, Natural History, Animal Behaviour, Anthropomorphism

    Defends a creature 'burdened with an undeserved and offensive name, and having somehow become an object of suspicion and dislike to many persons', and insists that in fact 'the cat-bird—mimus carolinensis—is one of the most intelligent and interesting of our [i.e. America's] native birds' (598). Notes that the bird's unusual name comes from a 'cry [...] which at a little distance somewhat resembles the "mew" of a melancholy cat' (601). Attributes several human faculties to the bird, including 'an inquiring mind' and 'a sense of humour' (598), and suggests that when the habits of the bird are observed closely 'you recognize in him something like intelligence and reason, and you can not resist the conviction that he has opinions, and could express them if only you could understand his language' (601).

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