- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Mimidae
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.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Listen for the distinctive mew call of the Gray Catbird, or for its imitation of several species during a long, seemingly improvised series of notes. When the male is singing, look for him at the top of a dense, tangled thicket. Gray Catbirds will also often come to investigate if you make a "pishing" sound when they are in the area.
- Pájaro-gato gris (Spanish)
- Moqueur chat (French)
To attract Gray Catbirds, plant shrubs in areas of your yard near young deciduous trees. Catbirds also love fruit, so you can entice them with plantings of native fruit-bearing trees and shrubs such as dogwood, winterberry, and serviceberry.
- Cool Facts
- 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.