My Bantam Lake

Gray Catbird

Written on 07/03/2018

Dumetella carolinensis

A medium-sized, slender songbird with a long, rounded, black tail and a narrow, straight bill. Catbirds are fairly long legged and have broad, rounded wings. They measure 21 to 24 centimeters in length, with a wingspan of 22 to 30 centimeters. Catbirds give the impression of being entirely slaty gray. With a closer look you’ll see a small black cap, blackish tail, and a rich rufous-brown patch under the tail. Catbirds are secretive but energetic, hopping and fluttering from branch to branch through tangles of vegetation. Singing males sit atop shrubs and small trees. Catbirds are reluctant to fly across open areas, preferring quick, low flights over vegetation. Look for Gray Catbirds in dense tangles of shrubs, small trees, and vines, along forest edges, streamside thickets, old fields, and fencerows. This species is of low conservation concern.

Fun 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.


Source: Gray Catbird Overview and Identification Information, All About Birds, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology