Grey Catbird

Dumetella carolinensis

Image of a grey catbird, Dumetella carolinensis, perched on a branch.
Image by Wilfred Hdez on Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Physical: The Gray Catbird stands out with its predominantly slate-gray feathers. Spanning about 8.1 to 9.4 inches from beak to tail, it’s neither too big nor too small for a songbird. One of its signature markings is a modest black cap that rests atop its head. But what often catches the observer’s eye is the unexpected pop of rufous under the tail, providing a hint of color against the gray. Dark eyes peer out curiously, matched by a sleek, blackish bill.

Habitat: These birds cherish tangled, bushy landscapes. Whether it’s a thicket by the roadside or overgrown patches in woodlands, these dense areas offer them sanctuary.

Feeding: Gray Catbirds are curious eaters. While they munch on an array of insects – think ants, beetles, and caterpillars – they also have a sweet tooth for berries. Come colder days or migration periods, they’ll often be spotted rummaging through berry-laden shrubs, seeking out nature’s little sweet treats.

Breeding: Nesting is a covert operation for Catbirds. Tucked away in low-hanging branches or thick shrubs, the female crafts a cozy nest out of twigs and leaves. Once she’s done, she’ll lay around 3-4 eggs, taking up the role of the primary caregiver during the incubation period. But post-hatch, both parents are hands-on, ensuring their fledglings are well-fed and cared for.

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