GREY CATBIRD

GREY CATBIRD (Dumetella carolinensis)
DESCRIPTION: The Grey Catbird is mostly grey with a black cap and a reddish rump. The bill, eyes, legs and feet are black. Sexes are similar. It is around 23 cm (9 inches) long.
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Dumetella-carolinensis –  This catbird, in addition to it signature ‘meow’ call, also imitates songs of other birds and mechanical sounds. A song may last several minutes and is not repeated. It can even emit two sounds at the same time.
NAME: The English name refers to the bird’s call. The Latin genus name ‘Dumetella’ would mean the ‘little one of the thorn bush’. As for the Latin species name ‘Carolinensis’, it means ‘of Carolina’.
HABITAT: Thorn bushes that border fields.
DIET: Berries and insects.
NESTING: Catbirds build their nest in a thick bush near the ground. Usually two or three blue eggs are laid, incubated by the female . Both parents feed the chicks. As a defense against the parasitic Brown-headed Cowbird, catbirds will peck at the alien egg to destroy it.
DISTRIBUTION: The Maritimes region is located at the northeast limit of its breeding range, which includes most of the southern part of Canada and the USA. It migrates along the coasts of southeast USA and the Caribbean for the winter.
ON PEI: The grey catbird breeds on Prince Edward Island but is uncommon.
CONSERVATION: The bird’s habitat makes it vulnerable to agricultural expansion and might be contributing to its declining numbers in the Maritimes. Overall the population is widespread and appears stable, and is not considered at risk.
NOTES: The Grey catbird is part of the Mockingbird family. As opposed to many birds that perch at the top of a tree to sing, the grey catbird ‘hides’ in a dense shrub to do so.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Northern Mockingbird
REFERENCES: https://www.borealbirds.org/bird/gray-catbird
https://www.mba-aom.ca/jsp/toc.jsp (Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas)
Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas (Grey Catbird)
http://cwf-fcf.org/en/resources/encyclopedias/fauna/birds/gray-catbird.html
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/gray-catbird
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_catbird
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Gray_Catbird/id
https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/gray-catbird (Missouri Department of Conservation)

Grey Catbird - French Village area, PEI - May 16, 2017
Grey Catbird – French Village area, PEI – May 16, 2017 – Brett MacKinnon
Grey Catbird - Souris River area, PEI - May 30, 2016 - Marcy Robertson
Grey Catbird – Souris River area, PEI – May 30, 2016 – © Marcy Robertson
Grey Catbird - Grayton State Park, FL - Mar. 30, 2018 - photo by Roberta Palmer
Grey Catbird – Grayton State Park, FL – Mar. 30, 2018 – Roberta Palmer