9, 2014: Arrival of the Gray Catbird (Dumetella
carolinensis) signals fall in southeastern states.
Some folks think the Gray Catbird is relatively dull, especially
when compared to some of the still brightly-colored migrating
warblers and tanagers. But this species is full of
personality. A Gray Catbird may first be discovered by
hearing the meow-like call from deep within a thick tangle of
vines or the base of small shrubs. Then without any
apparent reason, the bird will move boldly into the open,
jerking its long tail and posing for the birder to admire the
uniformly dark slate gray body, back and wings. The nearly
black cap, relatively large black eye and rufous undertail
coverts combine to make this a strikingly handsome bird, as can
be seen in the photo taken by Donna Faylo. Click
to see more of Donnas photos.
In addition to the
mewing sound, the Gray Catbird, a member of the Mimidae family,
has a slow rambling warble, as well as hoarse notes with high,
sharp chips and squeaks. Unlike other members of this
family (mockingbirds and thrashers), Gray Catbirds have little
mimicry or repetitive sounds.
Their summer range reaches well into all the
northern states and southern Canada and west into the Canadian
plains provinces but not as far as the west coast of the US.
They winter primarily along the Caribbean coast and the entire
state of Florida. While their summer diet consists mainly
of insects and berries, the bulk of their winter diet is made up
of vegetable matter. Gray Catbirds often show up at
backyard feeders, too.
Facts above gathered from The Sibley Guide to
the Birds and Lives of North American Birds by Kenn