Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Gray Catbird

This gray catbird has been eating berries and has juice on its face!

Gray catbirds usually stay hidden in dense bushes, so we hear them more than we see them. They make a catlike mewing sound that gives them their common name. The one in the photo came out of hiding to scold my cat. They are creative singers, too; they imitate the songs of other birds, and sometimes the sounds of machines and people.

The catbird, Dumetella carolinensis, is about 9 inches long, and gray, with a dark cap on the head, and a black tail with a  chestnut-colored patch underneath.

They are summer birds in New York City, where they nest in places as urban as my Brooklyn garden -- within sight of the Manhattan skyline.

There is more information about urban birds in my book, A Field Guide to Urban Wildlife of North America, which will be published by Stackpole Books in spring 2011. 

1 comment:

  1. Typically gray catbirds do seem shy. But this year I have a catbird that is down right sociable. When I'm working in the garden it will often perch within a few feet and sing like crazy. Then it flies down and picks insects out of the mulch. The only time it gets testy is when I am near the tree it is nesting in.