1731, common name for the North American thrush (Dumetella Carolinensis
), so called from its warning cry, which resembles that of a cat. Catbird seat
is a 19c. Dixieism, popularized by Brooklyn Dodgers baseball announcer Red Barber and by author James Thurber (1942).
" 'Sitting in the catbird seat' meant sitting pretty, like a batter with three balls and no strikes on him." [Thurber, "Stories from New Yorker"]