Once the Catbird eggs hatch, the birds are called “hatchlings”. At this point, they are partially naked, eyes closed, have very little down, and are completely helpless.
For this reason, both Catbird parents take shifts with the hatchlings, protecting them from the brutal summer heat by covering them and keeping them cool.
As the Catbird hatchlings down grows and their eyes open, they are now able to move around in the nest. However, they are not ready to leave the nest
(making them “nestlings”).
As nestlings, they are completely dependent upon their parents for food.
Along with feeding the nestlings, both Catbird parents eat the fecal sacs (waste) of the nestlings for half of the nesting period and for the remaining half they toss it outside the nest, obviously to keep the nestlings safe from disease.
In addition to hunger and heat, the need for protection from predators rises. As the issue arises, the male and female Gray Catbird will freeze with watchful eyes on the predator, hoping to escape its notice.
If, however, a predator were to come too close, one Catbird parent would fly out from the bush in an attempt to distract the predator from the young.
Soon, the Catbird nestlings develop their tiny wings, and become somewhat self-defensive and independent of the nest. However, they still stay in the bush waiting for their meals.
By now, sometimes the female Catbird leaves the male to feed the nestlings as she establishes a second brood.
The male is then left to feed his nestlings until they develop flight feathers at which time they are known as “fledglings”.
They are soon taught to fly and find food, becoming able to protect and defend themselves without the aid of their parents.
– Craig Curtis