Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

Grey Catbird

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Mimidae | [latin] Dumetella carolinensis | [UK] Grey Catbird | [FR] Moqueur chat | [DE] Katzenvogel | [ES] Pajaro-gato Gris | [NL] Katvogel


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Melanoptila carolinensis
Dumetella carolinensis NA widespread MA

Physical charateristics

Gray catbirds are medium-sized birds with a dark gray body, a black cap and black tail feathers. They have a chestnut patch underneath the tail coverts. Eastern populations are generally darker grey than western populations. Gray catbirds have short rounded wings and long rounded tail feathers, a short black bill, black eyes, and black feet and legs. They range from 21 to 24 cm long.

Listen to the sound of Grey Catbird

[audio: Catbird.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 22 cm wingspan max.: 30 cm
size min.: 21 cm size max.: 24 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 10 days fledging max.: 14 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America : widespread


Gray catbirds live in dense thickets of shrubs and vines within woodlands, and are occasionally found in residential areas. They are also found around some forest edges and clearings, along roadsides, fencerows, abandoned farmland and streamsides. They prefer areas without many conifer trees.


Gray catbirds breed between April and early August. They usually raise two broods per season. The female builds a bulky, open nest that is low to the ground (within 2 m). The nests are made from twigs, scraps, and paper bits. The female then lays 1 to 5 (usually 3 or 4) turquoise-colored eggs (about 17 mm by 24 mm). The female incubates the eggs for 12 to 14 days. The young are altricial when they hatch, and the parents shade them in the nest by perching on the rim with their wings spread and breast feathers fluffed. The male and female both feed young, whose diet usually consists only of small invertebrates. The young depart from the nest 10 to 11 days after hatching, and the parents will continue to feed them for up to 12 days. The young birds can breed for the first time the next summer.
Gray catbirds are born altricial, which means they cannot take care of themselves. Both males and females feed the young, who only eat small invertebrates. Parents shade the young from the sun by perching on the rim of the nest with their wings spread and breast feathers fluffed.

Feeding habits

Gray catbirds mostly forage in treetops and on the ground. They are omnivores, consuming primarily insects and fruits. Insects in their diet include ants, beetles, flies, caterpillars and moths, including gypsy moths, spiders, and aphids. Gray catbirds eat small fruits from a number of different plants.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Gray catbirds are native to the Nearctic region. They breed in north, central and eastern United States (from Oregon to New Mexico, to along the East coast), and south-central and western Canada (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba). During the winter they live in the extreme southeastern United States, along the east coast of Mexico, and in the Caribbean Islands.
Grey Catbird status Least Concern


Gray Catbirds are Neotropical migrants that winter in the southeastern US, Mexico, and Central America. Like many other species whose population is centered east of the Rocky Mountains, Gray Catbirds appear to migrate east first and then south, east of the Rockies.

Distribution map

Grey Catbird distribution range map

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