|Conservation status||At least in the east, populations seem to have been increasing in recent decades.|
|Family||Mockingbirds and Thrashers|
|Habitat||Undergrowth, brush, thorn scrub, suburban gardens. At all seasons, favors dense low growth. Most common in leafy thickets along the edges of woods and streams, shrubby swamps, overgrown brushy fields, and hedges in gardens. Avoids unbroken forest and coniferous woods.|
Does much foraging on ground, flipping leaves aside with bill as it seeks insects. Feeds on berries up in shrubs and trees.
4, sometimes 3-5, rarely 2-6. Greenish blue, rarely with some red spots. Incubation is by female only, about 12-13 days. Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 10-11 days after hatching. 2 broods per year.
Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 10-11 days after hatching. 2 broods per year.
Mostly insects and berries. Especially in early summer, eats many beetles, ants, caterpillars, grasshoppers, crickets, true bugs, and other insects, as well as spiders and millipedes. Nestlings are fed almost entirely on insects. More than half the annual diet of adults may be vegetable matter, especially in fall and winter, when they eat many kinds of wild berries and some cultivated fruit. Rarely catches small fish. At feeders, will eat a bizarre assortment of items including doughnuts, cheese, boiled potato, and corn flakes.
Early in breeding season, male sings constantly in morning and evening, sometimes at night. Courtship may involve male chasing female, posturing and bowing with wings drooped and tail raised; male may face away from female to show off patch of chestnut under tail. When Brown-headed Cowbirds lay eggs in nests of this species, the cowbird eggs are usually punctured and ejected by the adult Catbirds. Nest: Placed in dense shrubs, thickets, briar tangles, or low trees, usually 3-10' above the ground. Nest (built mostly by female) is a large bulky cup of twigs, weeds, grass, leaves, and sometimes pieces of trash, lined with rootlets and other fine materials.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Apparently migrates mostly at night. Birds breeding in the northwest seem to migrate east before turning south in fall, since they are rarely seen in the southwest.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsA long, irregular succession of musical and mechanical notes and phrases; a cat-like mewing. Sometimes seems to mimic other birds.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Gray Catbird
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Gray Catbird
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.