The Gray Catbird Habits

The Gray Catbird is in the family of Mimidae which includes Mockingbirds and Thrashers.

Well known by bird watchers for their habit of mimicking sounds of other animals and bird species.

One 4 1/2 minute song included 170 distinct phrases.

gray catbird

The cat-like mewing call is generally an alarm call. Informing others that a predator or danger exsist for the birds.

Fairly inquisitve, this bird will pop out of the thick brush if it hears you approaching. Once satisfied, the bird will quickly dart back into cover and settle down.

Baby Catbird Chirps to be Fed

After a time you'll notice the bird will continue going about his business with you around.

Both male and female give the "meeow" call although it really isn't a good imitation of a cat and you're unlikely to be fooled.

What They Look Like

Catbirds are 8 to 9 1/2 inches long. Mainly gray, darkest on wings and tail. Look for a black cap and a rust colored patch under the tail.

Mating Habits

A monogamous bird. Pairs are usually bonded at the beginning of the season.

During courtship, watch the male when around a female as he raises his head up or down while fluffing out his body feathers to intice her to be his mate.

If things go well for him a pair bond is formed and nest building begins.

Catbird Nesting Habits

Adult Catbird Foraging on Berries

The female builds most of the nest. The male will help with nest construction, but usually adds very little.

The nest is cup shaped, made of twigs, leaves, grasses and grapevine bark, lined with rootlets, pine needles, and horsehair.

The nest is generally located in a shrub, thick vine, or small tree about 2 to 10 feet above the ground.

The female lays 2 to 6 dark blue-green eggs that will be incubated by the female only. Incubation last about 12 to 14 days.

The young will leave the nest within 10 to 13 days after hatching. Nest are not used for second brood or from year to year. They will return to the same habitat if successful.

Feeding Habits - What they Eat

The diet of Gray Catbirds consist of insects, spiders, and fruit. Catbirds eat a lot of berries. As a mater of fact, berries make up as much as 50 percent of their diet.

Primarily feeds on the ground and in low foliage.

The way I get them to the feeder is providing Grape Jelly in a feeder we place for Orioles, Check it out here: Fruit Feeder Another option is to place Suet in a suet feeder

Migration of Catbirds

Catbirds vacate their summer range to winter in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Small but increasing numbers remain in the North through the winter. Most likely to see them along the New England coast and on South.

If you see Catbirds in your backyard during winter, try placing suet, raisins, and blueberries out to keep them well fed.