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Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis

   

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Gray Catbird
credit: Alan Vernon/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/Naturesound.com (audio)

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Family: Mimidae, Mockingbirds and Thrashers view all from this family



Description ADULT Has mainly deep blue-gray body plumage, but with a striking black cap, dark eye, and brick-red undertail coverts. Tail is blackish and legs and bill are dark. JUVENILE Similar to adult.


Dimensions Length: 8-9 1/4" (20-23 cm)


Habitat Widespread and common summer visitor (mainly May-Aug) to densely vegetated wooded habitats, including mature parks and gardens. Winters from southeastern U.S. to Mexico and Caribbean.


Observation Tips Easier to hear than to see, but persistent observation usually pays off.


Range Texas, Plains, Northwest, Great Lakes, New England, Eastern Canada, Southeast, Rocky Mountains, California, Western Canada, Florida, Southwest, Mid-Atlantic


Voice Song is series of harsh, abrupt, and rather chattering whistles and squeaks, often with elements of mimicry; unlike rather similar songs of Northern Mockingbird and Brown Thrasher, each phrase of Catbird's song is not repeated (typically repeated several times in those other species). Song is usually delivered from dense cover. Call is a loud mew.


Discussion Unmistakable bird if seen well. Retiring habits mean it is easily overlooked, but the distinctive meowing call after which it is named, often alerts observers to its otherwise hidden presence in deep cover. Tail is long and often cocked. Forages for insects and other invertebrates on the ground in leaf litter and also among foliage; also feeds, seasonally, on berries. Sexes are similar.


 

 

 

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