- Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Gray Catbird

Dumetella carolinensis

Catbirds, Mockingbirds, and Thrashers
Spring, Summer, Fall

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.

8" Long
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.
Usually at forest edges, fields, and in large green spaces. Gray catbirds nest and roost inside vines, bushes, and other tangling understory plants.
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.
Small insects (ants, catepillars, moths) and fruits (blackberries, raspberries, and the like).
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 Gray Catbird

More Gray Catbird Photos

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    • This fellow stayed in one place calling so long that I had time to change the exposure, change locations, and wound up with so many shots of him that I could ignore everything where he didn't have his beak open and still have a nice group to choose from.

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