Talk:Catbird seat

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Unclear language[edit]

"However, according to "Colonel" Bob Edwards' book Fridays with Red, Barber claimed that Thurber got this and many other expressions from him, and that Barber had first heard the term used during a poker game in Cincinnati during the Great Depression."

Who is HIM (and HE) -- Barbner or Edwards? This convoiluted sentence needs rewriting as two or three shorter, clear sentences. (talk) 01:46, 2 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It is unlikely that the "catbird seat" derived from an Australian bowerbird or catbird (family Ptilonorhynchidae). It is much more likely that the term is in reference to the American grey catbird (Dumetella carolinensis). This is probably the bird that Red Barber, who grew up in Mississippi, was talking about. The winter range of the Grey Catbird extends from the Gulf States to Panama. [1]

There is a contradiction between two different articles.

In this article, you comment that Red Barber's daughter attributed his use of the phrase "sitting in the Catbird seat" to James Thurber's short story:

"According to Barber's daughter, however, it was only after Barber read Thurber's story that he started using the phrase "in the catbird seat" himself."

Another Wikiepdia article ( titled "English language idioms derived from baseball" says that Barber, interviewed in the Saturday Review in 1958, said that he first heard this term during a game of penny-ante poker while he was in Cincinnati, presumably sometime in the 1930s, and borrowed it for his radio broadcasts.

There is no publication cited regarding the daughter's comment.

  • Indeed; an Australian connect is unlikely in the extreme. I think it may mean nothing more than "sitting on a nest with three eggs under you." 17:42, 14 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Due to the unlikeliness of the Australian connection, the Australian catbird should not really figure in this page, which is about the expression and not the bird. Richard E 08:27, 15 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

2007-02-1 Automated pywikipediabot message[edit]

--CopyToWiktionaryBot 02:27, 1 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Shouldn't this be a disambiguation page instead? It details the music group, the bird AND the phrase.

Licon 13:26, 4 March 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

reads like advertizing[edit]

Most of this page is just advertizing for an obscure band. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Oscar Goldman (talkcontribs) 03:26, 5 March 2007 (UTC).Reply[reply]

Moron. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:32, 23 May 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I recently had to remove vandalism from this page. It seems to be a page that attracts trouble. I hope that the editors can watch this page and do something about it.

Translate from American please?"[edit] a batter with three balls and no strikes on him.

Please can someone explain what this means, to an audience ignorant of baseball? We don't all live in the good ole U.S. of A, you know.

-- 18:42, 7 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

In baseball, four balls allows the batter to proceed or "walk" to first base. A "ball" is a pitch not over homeplate, or above the batters shoulders or below the knees. A pitch over the plate and between the shoulders and knees is a "strike" (3 strikes and your out!). Thus, a 3-ball, no strike count on a batter is very advantageous. The batter can wait for a juicy pitch to hit knowing that he has two strikes to give before even having to consider swinging the bat.

See Count (baseball). I'll insert a link. -Phoenixrod (talk) 03:23, 22 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thurber's story[edit]

I am moving the following text here:

"The Catbird Seat" is also a well known short story by renowned writer James Thurber. Thurber's short story is studied in schools all across the world because of Thurber's interesting use of indirect characterization. In the novel, the meticulous main character, Mr. Martin, is afraid that he may be fired by the boss's new assistant. Therefore, he plans to kill the new assistant but when he arrives to carry out his plan, finds he cannot, not out of morals but out of fear. He cannot kill her so he begins drinking and smoking and doing everything that people who know him know he would not do. Then he tells her that he is going to kill the boss. The new assistant comes running into work the next day to tell everybody her story, but nobody believes her and they believe that she is crazy so the boss has no choice but to fire her.

I'm not sure it's terribly important to detail the story's plot in this article's final paragraph. It seems out of place there, especially because it is introduced as if it's a new idea, but Thurber's story has been mentioned three times already in the article. Comments are appreciated. -Phoenixrod (talk) 03:28, 22 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The article does not explain why the catbird's seat is good. I don't have ready sources but this is the gist of it. In fact, many accounts of the catbird seat get it wrong.

Catbirds eat insects, mostly, a characteristic that contributes to the memorableness of where the catbird sits. Back when horse plows turned the soil, catbirds would sit on the plowman's hat in order to get a good look at any insects turned up by the plow. Catbirds are also very distinct animals being a dark bird about the size of a jay with some red underparts. This behavior, a distinct look, a preternatural ability at mimicry and a saucy attitude helped make sitting in the catbird seat a classic metaphorical phrase.

You will read in some other places that catbirds sit on roofs and treetops to sing their mimicked songs. Mockingbirds do this but catbirds tend to hide. A hidden bird that can mimic a cat does tend to frighten off other birds, perhaps. But it's the sitting on someone's hat to catch insects that marks the catbird seat. Halfelven (talk) 01:01, 17 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Other uses of the term Catbird Seat in Hollywood[edit]

Used in "Raising Arizona" by the character Gale Snoats (John Goodman) when he says "you and l'll be sittin' in the fabled catbird seat" with reference to the result of a bank heist and subsequent [1]easy life.


  1. ^