Gray Catbird – Call | Nest | Migration | Diet | Facts | Range | Song

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird typically hides within the shrubbery, making an odd number of musical and harsh sounds — together with the catlike mewing chargeable for its name. The grey catbird, scientific name Dumetella carolinensis, additionally spelled gray catbird, is a medium-sized North American and Central American perching fowl of the mimid family. In this article, I am going to talk about Gray Catbird call, song, male vs female, sound, diet, migration, range, wingspan, nest, etc.

Gray Catbird profile

It is the one member of the “catbird” genus Dumetella. Like the black catbird (Melanoptila glabrirostris), it’s among the many basal lineages of the Mimidae, in all probability a more in-depth relative of the Caribbean thrasher and trembler assemblage than of the mockingbirds and Toxostoma thrashers. In some areas, it is named the slate-colored mockingbird.

At different instances it strikes about boldly within the open, jerking its long tail expressively. Most catbirds winter within the southern United States or the tropics, however, a number lingering far to the north if they’ve entry to a dependable source of berries or a well-stocked bird feeder.

Geographical range and habitat

Native to most of temperate North America east of the Rocky Mountains, grey catbirds migrate to the southeastern United States, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean in winter; aside from the occasional vagrant, they all the time keep east of the American Cordillera. They are extraordinarily uncommon vagrants to western Europe.

Normally current on the breeding grounds by May, most go away for winter quarters in September/October; because it appears, this species is more and more extending its keep in the summertime vary, with some these days remaining till mid-winter as far north as Ohio. The grey catbird is a migratory species. Spring migration ranges from March to May, and within the fall ranges from late August to November.

The catbird tends to keep away from dense, unbroken woodlands and doesn’t inhabit coniferous, pine woodland. Catbirds desire a dense vegetative substrate, particularly if thorny vegetation is current.

Scrublands, woodland edges, overgrown farmland, and deserted orchards are usually among the many most well-liked areas of the catbird. In Bermuda, its most well-liked habitats are scrub and myrtle swamp. During the winter season, the catbird has an affinity for berry-rich thickets, particularly inside the proximity of water sources.

Gray Catbird Description

Adults weigh from 23.2 to 56.5 g (0.8 to 2.0 oz), with a mean of 35–40 g (1.2–1.4 oz) They vary in size from 20.5 to 24 cm (8.1 to 9.4 in) and span 22 to 30 cm (8.7 to 11.8 in) throughout the wings. Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 8.4 to 9.8 cm (3.3 to 3.9 in), the tail is 7.2 to 10.3 cm (2.8 to 4.1 in), the culmen is 1.5 to 1.8 cm (0.6 to 0.7 in) and the tarsus is 2.7 to 2.9 cm (1.1 to 1.1 in).

Gray catbirds are plain lead-gray nearly throughout. The top of the pinnacle is darker. The undertail coverts are rust-colored, and the remiges and rectrices are black, some with white borders.

The slim invoice, the eyes, and the legs and ft are additionally blackish. Males and females can’t be distinguished by their seems to be; totally different behaviors within the breeding season is often the one clue to the observer. Juveniles are even plainer in coloration, with buffy undertail coverts.

Color Pattern

Catbirds give the impression of being solely slaty grey. With a more in-depth look, you’ll see a small black cap, blackish tail, and a wealthy rufous-brown patch below the tail.

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Approximately 50% of the grey catbird’s weight loss plan is fruit and berries. They additionally eat mealworms, earthworms, beetles, and different bugs.

Mostly bugs and berries. Especially in early summer, eats many beetles, ants, caterpillars, grasshoppers, crickets, true bugs, and different bugs, in addition to spiders and millipedes.

Nestlings are fed nearly solely on bugs. More than half the annual weight loss plan of adults could also be vegetable matter, particularly in fall and winter, after they eat many varieties of untamed berries and a few cultivated fruit.

Rarely catches small fish. At feeders, will eat a weird assortment of things together with doughnuts, cheese, boiled potato, and corn flakes.

In summer, grey catbirds will eat principally ants, beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and moths. They additionally eat holly berries, cherries, elderberries, poison ivy, bay, and blackberries.

Gray Catbird Vocalizations

This species is called for its cat-like name. Like many members of the Mimidae (most famously mockingbirds), it additionally mimics the songs of different birds, in addition to these of Hylidae (tree frogs), and even mechanical sounds.

Because of its well-developed songbird syrinx, it is ready to make two sounds on the identical time. The alarm name resembles the quiet calls of a male mallard.

A grey catbird’s music is well distinguished from that of the northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) or brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) as a result of the mockingbird repeats its phrases or “strophes” three to 4 instances, the thrasher often twice, however, the catbird sings most phrases solely as soon as. The catbird’s music is often described as raspier and fewer musical than that of a mockingbird.

In distinction to the various songbirds that select a distinguished perch from which to sing, the catbird typically elects to sing from inside a bush or small tree, the place it’s obscured from view by the foliage.

Gray Catbird Breeding

Their breeding habitat is semi-open areas with dense, low development; they’re additionally present in city, suburban, and rural habitats. In the winter months, they appear to affiliate with people even more. These birds primarily forage on the bottom in leaf litter, but additionally in shrubs and bushes.

They primarily eat arthropods and berries. In the winter months, Cymbopetalum mayanum (Annonaceae) and Trophis racemosa (Moraceae) bear fruit effectively preferred by this species, and such bushes will be planted to draw the grey catbird into parks and gardens.

They construct a cumbersome cup nest in a shrub or tree, near the bottom. Eggs are light blue in color, and clutch measurement ranges from 1–5, with 2–Three eggs most typical. Both dad and mom take turns feeding the younger birds.


4, generally 3-5, hardly ever 2-6. Greenish blue, hardly ever with some purple spots. Incubation is by feminine solely, about 12-13 days. Young: Both dad and mom feed the nestlings. Young go away the nest about 10-11 days after hatching. 2 broods per year.


Both dad and mom feed the nestlings. Young go away the nest about 10-11 days after hatching. 2 broods per year.

Gray Catbird Nesting

Early within the breeding season, the male sings continually within the morning and night, generally at night.

Courtship might contain male chasing feminine, posturing and bowing with wings drooped and tail raised; male might face away from feminine to point out off a patch of chestnut below the tail.

When Brown-headed Cowbirds lay eggs in nests of this species, the cowbird eggs are often punctured and ejected by the grownup Catbirds.

Nest: Placed in dense shrubs, thickets, briar tangles, or low bushes, often 3-10′ above the bottom. Nest (built mostly by feminine) is a big cumbersome cup of twigs, weeds, grass, leaves, and sometimes items of trash, lined with rootlets and different wonderful supplies.

Communication and Perception

Gray catbirds talk visually, by how they maintain their head or how their feathers are positioned. They additionally talk about the use of calls and songs.

Gray catbirds are identified for their “mew”-like the music, which is harking back to the “mew” made by a cat. However, these expert vocalists could make more than 100 various kinds of sounds, together with whistles, harsh chatters, and squeaks.

They may even mimic different birds, tree frogs, and different mechanical sounds that they hear. Part of this capacity involves typing the weird construction of their syrinx, which permits each side of the syrinx to function independently. This signifies that grey catbirds can sing with two voices directly. Gray catbirds are additionally identified to sing in duet.

Other Recommended Reading


Gray catbirds might profit from human exercise. They generally make their properties within the sorts of scrubby, dense habitats that are created by deforestation and regrowth.

However, their habitat has additionally been destroyed by clearing fields for agriculture. Gray catbirds are thought of to be a standard fowl species, but they appear to have turn out to be much less frequent lately.

There are about 10,000,000 grey catbirds on the earth. They are protected below the U.S. Migratory Bird Act. Learn more about parakeet auklet.

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