The yellow-breasted chats woke me up on May 1 as it got light, arguing and yelling from the tangle to the east and the tangle to the west. the former owner of our house was from the north of England. "Those are the rudest birds!" he said. "They fly over making the most awful noises!" Yes, indeed.
Chats have bred in our yard all but one of the 21 years we've lived here. For reasons unknown they deserted us in 2010, to come back in 2011. Now I hold my figurative breath until I know they're staying.
I look at our yard and overgrown orchard and know the changes are happening, that they're more chickadee habitat than bluebird habitat now, more redstart than prairie warbler habitat. Some birds go, and others replace them, and I guess I have to be OK with that, but please, please, chats! Don't leave us.
When chats sing they shoot their necks out and that glorious sunflower-yellow throat pulses and belches with a shot of stunning color.