Sunday, June 30, 2013

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird - Dumetella carolinensis

Gray Catbirds are in the Mimidae family, which includes Mockingbirds and Thrashers. The genus name is Latin for "small thicket," a preferred habitat of the Gray Catbird.
Berries make up to 50% of the diet of the Gray Catbird. These birds visit my feeders. I put out oranges to try to attract Orioles, but the most consistent bird who eats the fruit is the catbird.
I heard this Gray Catbird before I saw the bird. The characteristic cat meow is only one of the songs in a wide repertoire. The Gray Catbird is a good mimic. A 4.5 minute recorded Gray Catbird song included 170 distinct phrases!
Gray Catbirds can recognize and remove parasitized cowbird eggs. This Gray Catbird was displaying in a territorial fashion. There was a Brown-headed Cowbird on a tall Spruce nearby and I wondered whether the display was for me or the cowbird?

The Gray Catbird winters in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.


The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Alberta. Federation of Alberta Naturalists. 2007.

Baicich PJ, Harrison CJO. Nests, Eggs, and Nestlings of North American Birds. Princeton UP. 2005.

Beadle D, Rising J. Sparrows of the United States and Canada. Princeton UP. 2003.

Fisher C, Acorn J. Birds of Alberta. Lone Pine Publishing. Edmonton. 1998.

Sibley David A. The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior. Alfred A Knopf, Inc. New York. 2001.

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