Animalia, Chordata, Aves, Passeriformes, Mimidae, DumetellaDescription:
All Gray Catbirds, regardless of their age or gender, are mainly grey with black colouring on the tops of their heads and orange-brown underneath the base of their tail. Their calls are a raspy cat-like sound while their songs are highly variable and often melodic.
(Please note — these photos are unverified images submitted by members of the CWF Photo Club.)
Habitat: Gray Catbirds nest and feed in dense shrubby areas in gardens, woods and hedgerows along farm fields. This led to their Latin name, “Dumetella” which loosely translates to “thicket-dweller”. Gray Catbirds also feed on the ground where there is dense vegetation as well as up in treetops.
Diet: Gray Catbirds eat a variety of insects including ants, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars and moths. They also feed on small fruit like wild grapes, rosehips as well as berries from many bushes such as dogwoods, elderberries and viburnums.
This bird is typically heard more often than seen and might even be curious enough to follow you around the garden while safely hidden in thick shrubbery and trees.
Gray Catbirds belong to the family Mimidae which includes thrashers and mockingbirds. These birds are all able to mimic other birds, incorporating those sounds into their own variable song.
Gray Catbirds are one of the few birds that have learned to recognize Cowbird eggs and remove them from the nest. Cowbirds are nest parasites, depositing an egg in another bird’s nest where the young Cowbird grows larger than the nest-builder’s own brood, helping the Cowbird outcompete the other birds for food.Threats and What You Can Do:
While Gray Catbirds aren’t listed as a species at risk, you can help keep it that way by growing shrubs and trees for both nesting and providing food with insect habitat and fruit in your garden. Some Canadian native species include dogwoods, junipers, serviceberries, elderberries, wild roses, cherries and Mountain Ash.
You can also garden without pesticides to keep their food available and safe to ingest.
Where feasible, buy organic produce to support an industry that doesn’t harm songbirds and their food supply with spraying pesticides. Because Gray Catbirds migrate, this affects food grown in Canada, the United States and Mexico.