Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Animal Wednesday: The Catbird Seat

I was going through my images to find something fresh for Animal Wednesday and I found this collage that makes me smile! I also thought I'd give you the meaning and the origin behind this phrase. Meanwhile, my bets are on that BIG pigeon!

In a superior or advantageous position.

This is an American phrase - which is unsurprising as the grey catbird which is the probable source of the phrase is a North American species (there's also an Australian catbird). It's one of a group of birds called the mimic thrushes. They include mockingbirds and, as you might expect, they are adept mimics. The catbird is named for its ability to mimic the sound of a cat's miaow.

Catbirds seek out the highest perches in trees to sing and display. The allusion to that is most likely to be the derivation of the term. It may also be the source of an earlier term with much the same meaning - 'sitting pretty'.
The phrase appears to have originated in the American south, although the date and circumstances are uncertain. There's certainly an association with the sport of baseball, and most of the early citations of the phrase mention the game. That includes the first mention of it in print, in James Thurber's 55 Short Stories from New Yorker, November 1942:
"She must be a Dodger fan. Red Barber announces the Dodger games over the radio and he uses those expressions... 'sitting in the catbird seat' means sitting pretty, like a batter with three balls and no strikes on him."

Happy Animal Wednesday!!


  1. Cute collage. I am always amazed to see cats and parrots in photos together. The cats around our neighborhood are deadly to birds. I used to love to listen to Red Barber on Fridays as I drove to work. He did a sports commentary on NPR. He always talked of other things like the Camillias blooming during winter. His first love was baseball.

  2. This is super fantastic.

    I was laughing at your husbands stop off. har har.

    Too funny.

    Good riddance.


  3. i love this!

    honest to god, lo, it might be my very favorite. i love everything about it. don't you like it when i get this detailed? :)

    i have to go look at it again.

    i'll probably be back.

    i love you too.

  4. It makes me smile also. Wonderful collage.

  5. Is that cat drooling? Nice collage and explanation of phrase. Also glad to see it's Wednesday. I couldnt remember. :)

  6. Whata wonderful collage!
    Just love it!
    I started an e mail yesterday but still haven't fineished it I have been sleeping a lot and spending not so much time at the computer as usual....
    Tonight I helped a friend with some computer problems and now I must go to bed.

    Happy Animal Wednesday!

  7. This is so great - love it and the definition. HAW to you -

  8. I do like this collage. I was first staring at it closely to see if you had indeed painted that cat and that bird and that chair, but I guess not. You could have, you are THAT good! But it's okay, it's a good collage! HAW

  9. What a fun piece Lolo! I was intrigued by your explanation too!

  10. This is very clever...interesting info to go along with it also...:)

  11. Very eye catching. I wouldn't mess with that bird, kittie!

  12. So funny!Great colours and concept!Wonderful!

  13. You nailed the header as usual. Exactly.

    Foreboding waiting for the ball to drop.

    Did I tell you that my lovely Mom is dying. Not this minute, but it is a struggle.

    Love Renee xoox

  14. Beautiful piece and love the story that goes with.
    The concept of catbird (even though real) i s fantastic!.

    Happy New Year and the best is on it's way!

  15. What an awesome collage!!! I loved your acrylic painting with the lotus. Keep on pushing forward for renewing yourself, I know what you mean, hang in there though!

  16. How did I miss this earlier in the week. It is lovely, would look pretty in my guest room, and make for a smile...

  17. I love this collage and the info that went with it. It's goood to learn something at my old age! lol.

  18. Regina from HartfordJuly 28, 2010 8:58 AM

    I like this elegant inspirational quote "Be remarkable...." by Anisha Shenai. It really made my day. Thanks.

  19. Regina at HartfordJuly 28, 2010 8:04 PM

    Maybe my afterthought.....Anisha Shenai's quote goes so well with your magnificant colorful art illustration, which is also very remarkable and eloquent. They both really complement each other. Interestingly the "flame of passion" in the quote and the flame of candle in the blog also go hand in hand, as if made for each other. It's so thoughtful. Thanks.