The Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis), is a medium-sized North American and Central American perching bird of the mimid family. It is the only member of the “catbird” genus Dumetella. Like the Black Catbird (Melanoptila glabrirostris), it is among the basal lineages of the Mimidae, probably a closer relative of the Caribbean Thrasher and Trembler assemblage than of the Mockingbirds and Toxostoma Thrashers. In some areas, it is known as the Slate-colored Mockingbird.
Gray Catbirds are plain lead gray almost all over. The top of the head is darker. The undertail coverts are rust-colored, and the remiges and rectrices are black, some with white borders. The slim bill, the eyes, and the legs and feet are also blackish. Males and females cannot be distinguished by their looks; different behaviors in the breeding season is usually the only clue to the observer. Juveniles are even plainer in coloration, with buffy undertail coverts. [Wikipedia]
If you’re convinced you’ll never be able to learn bird calls, start with the Gray Catbird. Once you’ve heard its catty mew, you won’t forget it. Follow the sound into thickets and vine tangles, and you’ll be rewarded by a somber gray bird with a black cap and bright rusty feathers under the tail. Gray Catbirds are relatives of mockingbirds and thrashers, and they share that group’s vocal abilities, copying the sounds of other species and stringing them together to make their own song. [All About Birds]
Gray Catbird Facts [All About Birds]
- The Gray Catbird’s long song may last for up to 10 minutes.
- The male Gray Catbird uses his loud song to proclaim his territory. He uses a softer version of the song when near the nest or when a bird intrudes on his territory. The female may sing the quiet song back to the male.
- The Gray Catbird belongs to the genus Dumetella, which means “small thicket.” And that’s exactly where you should go look for this little skulker.
- The oldest known Gray Catbird was at least 17 years, 11 months old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in New Jersey in 2001. It had been banded in Maryland in 1984.