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The Gray Catbird - An Enviable Bird

article and photos by Charly Mann

About three years ago I saw my first Gray Catbird hopping around amid some dense shrubs near my home. I fell in love with the bird immediately and was overjoyed when I discovered it was called a catbird. This is because their call resembles the mewing of a cat. Since that day the Universe has been very kind to me, and I now usually see several Catbirds almost every day during the Spring and Summer. Gray Catbirds spend their winters along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.

Grey Catbird
This Gray Catbird is a regular visitor to my backyard and perches in a tree near where I often sit

Gray catbirds have a black crown and tail and a distinctive dark grey plumage. Adults measure about 9 inches in length. Their tail is long and erect like a wren and its under tail is rust colored. They have black eyes and legs.

Some Gray Catbirds have lived more than 17 years.

Gray Catbird mewing
This Grey Catbird is singing his song which can last as long as ten minutes

The Gray Catbird has another correct spelling: Grey Catbird. 

The Gray Catbird usually build its nest no more than four feet from the ground in small trees or dense shrubs. The Catbird will attack predators including humans that threaten their nests. 

Gray Catbird turquiose eggs
Turquoise eggs of Gray Catbird from nest in my backyard

Gray catbirds are monogamous.

Gray Catbird profile
Gray Catbird in his catbird seat

Gray Catbirds are rather fearless and you can usually get closer to them than most birds.

The expression "being in the catbird seat"means you have a great advantage in a situation. Many times when I see a Gray Catbird sitting in a nearby branch I think what an enviable position he is in.

 
 

Comments:

Kwangklai      4:42 PM Mon 12/28/2015

Good points. When my <a href="http://dpywapsj.com">frneid</a> mentioned this study I had a similar point. The biggest killer of birds in suburbs is SUBURBS! After the suburbs are built, most habitat is destroyed and with it most birds are killed or driven away. It's true that many suburban tolerant birds are killed by cats but since it's an urban ecosystem with a huge mix of different species, whether this is a bad thing or not depends simply on what you are trying to manage for. Outdoor cats are detrimental to birds but they aren't detrimental to all wild animals. For instance, they are great news for one of the top predators of the hidden suburban ecosystem coyotes! I do think that in areas adjacent to habitat and open space there are really good reasons not to have an outdoor cat. It can affect the populations of less-tolerant bird species and can affect your cat in a highly detrimental way by turning it into coyote food. Coyotes now occupy all habitats in the continental US, with very few exceptions, including suburban areas.Trap-Neuter-Release seems like the best way to manage feral cats. Killing them is obviously not a pleasant choice, but letting them overpopulate and then starve to death isn't much better.
 

Matteo      4:42 PM Mon 12/28/2015

I love catbirds too! They have such<a href="http://bbtgvckvi.com"> guooergs</a> plumage and interesting personalities. And they're also very determined. I've seen one try to carry away half an orange. Didn't quite make it, much to the bird's disappointment. Quarter of an orange, no probs. Half an orange, just too ambitious.
 

Nermeen      6:16 PM Wed 12/23/2015

The bird is more likely tcanhieg its young how to fly and coaxing them to fledge. The delivery of food is both the enticement to pay attention to the demonstration of the adult's use of its wings and the positive reinforcement to those developing young that choose to leave the nest.
 

Juan      5:42 PM Wed 12/23/2015

Thanks for posting my bitrhday Adrian!!Mom here, now, too . My three spawn agreed a good time was had by all and the indigo bunting was the highlight for all of them too! Great day again with great photos to catch us busy enjoying ourselves!! Thanks again, Adrian! And Debbie and Jim and Hallie!
 

Millie Williams      9:19 AM Wed 9/26/2012

Please tell me where I can buy a book
detailing birds of Oklahoma. Thanks
 

Pat      8:00 PM Mon 6/4/2012

For the last week or so, the grey Catbirds have been a wonderful distraction in our garden. This is the first time since we've lived here (40 years) that we have seen them. Today we discovered a nest in a Vibernum just outside our kitchen window. We figure the eggs (we didn't want to get close enough to find out how many) may be within a few days of hatching. The nest is about 6' off the ground. We'd love to get a photo, but we don't want to scare the parents. Your photos are amazing.

Congrats!
Pat
 

Jalene      7:24 AM Thu 8/11/2011

I'm not easily impersesd. . . but that's impressing me! :)
 


Uplifting Visions
a guide to happiness, good health, and success
Charly Mann in a Hawaiian shirt
by Charly Mann

From the age of seven I have been enchanted with the idea of living happily ever after, and have made it a life quest to find that answer. I have spoken to hundreds of people – usually older and wiser than me, and read countless books and articles on the subject. In my website Uplifting Visions I share what I consider the best insights I have learned about achieving happiness in life.



Oklahoma Birds Listed by Color

Red
House Finch - male (carpodacus mexicanus)
Purple Finch - male (carpodacus purpureus)
Northern Cardinal - male (cardinalis cardinalis)
Painted Bunting - male (passerina ciris)
Summer Tanager - male (piranga rubra)

Orange
Baltimore Oriole - male (icterus galbula)
Orchard Oriole - male (icterus spurius)

Yellow
Yellow Warbler (dendroica petechia )
Baltimore Oriole - female (icterus galbula)
Orchard Oriole - female (icterus spurius)
Summer Tanager - female (piranga rubra)
Yellow Goldfinch - male (carduelis tristis)
Western Kingbird (tyrannus verticalis)
Eastern Meadowlark (sturnella magna)

Green
Malard - male (anas platyrhynchos)
Dark-eyed Junco - female (junco hyemalis)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (archilochus colubris)
Painted Bunting - female (passerina ciris)
Green Heron (butorides virescens)

Blue
Barn Swallow (hirundo rustica)
Belted Kingfisher (ceryle alcyon)
Blue Jay (cyanocitta cristata)
Blue Grosbeak - male (guiraca caerulea)
Eastern Bluebird (sailia sialis)
Indigo Bunting - male (passerina cyanea)
Purple Martin - male (progne subis)

Grey
Great Blue Heron (ardea herodias)
Carolina Chickadee (poecile carolinensis)
Eastern Screech-Owl (otus asio)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (sitta canadensis)
Grey Catbird (dumetella carolinensis)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (regulus calendula)
Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher (tyrannus forficatus)
White-breasted Nuthatch (sitta carolinensis)
Tufted Titmouse (baelophus bicolor)
American Robin (turdus migratorius)
Northern Mockingbird (mimus polyglottos)
Mississippi Kite (ictinia mississippiensis)
Dickcissel (spiza americana)

Black
American Crow (corvus brachyrhynchos)
Brown-headed Cowbird - male (molothrus ater)
European Starling (sturnus vulgaris)
Common Grackle (quiscalus quiscula)
Red-winged Blackbird - male (agelaius phoeniceus)
Spotted Towhee (pipilo maculatus)
Turkey Vulture (cathartes aura)

Black & White
American Bald Eagle (haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Black-billed Magpie (pica hudsonia)
Downey Woodpecker (picoides pubescens)
Red-Bellied Woodpecker (melanerpes carolinus)
Purple Martin - female (progne subis)
Eastern Kingbird (tyrannus tyrannus)
Dark-eyed Junco - male (junco hyemalis)
Loggerhead Shrike (lanius ludovicianus)

Brown
American Kestrel (falco sparverius)
Blue Grosbeak - female (guiraca caerulea)
Brown-headed Cowbird - female (molothrus ater)
Brown Thrasher (toxostoma rufum)
Common Nighthawk (chordeiles minor)
Carolina Wren (thryothorus ludovicianus)
Cedar Waxwing (bombycilla cedrorum)
Greater Roadrunner (geococcyx californianus)
Killdeer (charadrius vociferus)
Northern Bobwhite (colinus virginianus)
Red-tailed Hawk (buteo jamaicensis)
Cliff Swallow (petrochelidon pyrrhonota)
Horned Lark (eremophila alpestris)
House Finch - female (carpodacus mexicanus)
Northern Flicker (colaptes auratus)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (coccyzus americanus)
Mourning Dove (zenaida macroura)
Malard - female (anas platyrhynchos)
Purple Finch - female (carpodacus purpureus)
House Sparrow (passer domesticus)
Indigo Bunting - female (passerina cyanea)
Red-winged Blackbird - female (agelaius phoeniceus)
Spotted Sandpiper (actitis macularia)
Upland Sandpiper (bartramia longicauda)
Northern Cardinal - female (cardinalis cardinalis)
Eastern Screech-Owl (otus asio)
Yellow Goldfinch - female (carduelis tristis)
Canada Goose (branta canadensis)

Various
Wild Birds of Northeast OK

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