- Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Gray Catbird

Dumetella carolinensis


Family:
Catbirds, Mockingbirds, and Thrashers
Size:
Medium
Visits:
Spring, Summer, Fall
Behavior:
Perchers

Gray Catbird Facts

You can easily identify a gray catbird by its coloration: no other Eastern songbird has the same slate gray plumage. However, you might have a hard time finding one in the first place—these perchers like to hide in thorny bushes and thickets. But if you hear a faint mew-mew call coming from deep inside a bush at BBG, chances are it’s a gray catbird and not a roaming housecat.

Size:
8" Long
Markings:
Males and females both have slate gray feathers with faintly black cap to head, black-tinted tail, and reddish-brown feathers under the tail. Juveniles are a slightly duller shade all over, including duller brown feathers under tail.
Habitat:
Usually at forest edges, fields, and in large green spaces. Gray catbirds nest and roost inside vines, bushes, and other tangling understory plants.
Behavior:
A relatively secretive songbird, the gray catbird typically forages on the ground via short flights from his hiding spots. If another bird tries to take over his territory, a male catbird will transform from shy warbler to tough guy, puffing up his chest and spreading out his tail in an attempt to visually intimidate his challenger.
Diet:
Small insects (ants, catepillars, moths) and fruits (blackberries, raspberries, and the like).
Vocals:
Gray catbirds do, at times, sound like cats: one of their calls comes across like meow. Their song is a long series of staccato chirps and tweets.

Female & Male

Adult Gray Catbird

Juvenile

Juvenile Gray Catbird


More Gray Catbird Photos