Photo by Melody

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

Order: Passeriformes
Family: Mimidae
Genus: Dumetella
Species: carolinensis


10 positives
1 neutral
No negatives


This bird has been reportedly found in the following regions:

Darien, Connecticut
Alford, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Lecanto, Florida
Lehigh Acres, Florida
Lutz, Florida
Melbourne, Florida
Mims, Florida (2 reports)
Oldsmar, Florida
Hull, Georgia
Tucker, Georgia
Algonquin, Illinois
Westchester, Illinois
Carmel, Indiana
Coatesville, Indiana
Hebron, Kentucky
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Dixfield, Maine
Pownal, Maine
Clinton, Maryland
Prince Frederick, Maryland
Acton, Massachusetts
Beverly, Massachusetts
Halifax, Massachusetts
Longmeadow, Massachusetts
Spencer, Massachusetts
West Roxbury, Massachusetts
Paw Paw, Michigan
Traverse City, Michigan
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Marietta, Mississippi
Tupelo, Mississippi
Conway, Missouri
Bayville, New Jersey
Beachwood, New Jersey
Brick, New Jersey
Toms River, New Jersey
Woodstown, New Jersey
Elephant Butte, New Mexico
Coram, New York
Himrod, New York
Concord, North Carolina
Greensboro, North Carolina
Corning, Ohio
Hanover, Pennsylvania
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Summerville, South Carolina
Crossville, Tennessee
Summertown, Tennessee
Arlington, Virginia
Ashburn, Virginia
Fredericksburg, Virginia
Petersburg, Virginia
Walkerton, Virginia
Kenosha, Wisconsin

By 2dCousinDave
Thumbnail #1 of Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) by 2dCousinDave

By gardenpom

Thumbnail #2 of Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) by gardenpom

By 2dCousinDave

Thumbnail #3 of Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) by 2dCousinDave

By linthicum

Thumbnail #4 of Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) by linthicum

By linthicum

Thumbnail #5 of Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) by linthicum

By Calif_Sue

Thumbnail #6 of Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) by Calif_Sue

By Beth08098

Thumbnail #7 of Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) by Beth08098

There are a total of 29 photos.
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Member Notes:

Positive wormfood On Jan 8, 2009, wormfood from Lecanto, FL
(Zone 9a) wrote:

A private (shy) bird. Before the sun goes down they have a call that sounds like a kitten crying from in the bushes.

Positive IrisLover79 On May 5, 2009, IrisLover79 from Westchester, IL
(Zone 5b) wrote:

They really do sound exactly like a cat. I remember the first time I saw one of these birds. I was in the forest preserve & heard the sound of a cat mewing from the bushes. I looked all around for the cat & was confused why this gray bird kept hopping around by me, when there was a cat around. Did he want to be lunch or was he protecting a nest from the cat? Then, as I was looking directly at the bird, it turned its head, meowed & flew off. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone, LOL! I had to laugh when I read the bird's name in my field guide. ;D

Positive nanny_56 On May 16, 2009, nanny_56 from Putnam County, IN
(Zone 5b) wrote:

They come to the table I have set up for the Baltimore Orioles. They love red grapes and grape jelly!

Positive plantladylin On Apr 29, 2010, plantladylin from South Daytona, FL
(Zone 9b) wrote:

I love this bird! We've had more Gray Catbirds this year than I can ever remember ... large flocks that are visiting the feeders as well as devouring the Japanese Plums/Loquat fruit on the many trees in my neighbors yard. At first they seemed pretty shy and elusive, now they are everywhere and don't always fly off when I'm in the yard. Today one even perched on the edge of a birdbath within three feet of me, watching me. It stayed there for quite a long time and seemed curious about the beep on the camera when I was focusing to take it's picture.

My Florida Bird book says they are most abundant during migration but also nest sporadically in the northern part of the state. It also says they have secretive habits and are more often heard than seen. I'm seeing them flying in and out of the trees and shrubbery every morning and late afternoon! I enjoy seeing them at the feeders, apparently eating the fruit and berries I mix in with the seed. They are beautiful birds and I will miss them when they move on.

Positive MaryJI On May 29, 2010, MaryJI from Franklin, TN wrote:

Do any of you know if catbirds make calls that don't sound like a cat mewing? We were in Gatlinburg this week and saw a bird that looked a lot like the ones in the pictures posted here. However, it had a beautiful song that sounded like the bird was singing for joy.

Positive SaberLily On Jun 12, 2010, SaberLily from Winchester, VA
(Zone 7a) wrote:

MaryJI: Yes, as a matter of fact catbirds do have a beautiful, melodious song other than the catlike mewling.

They're difficult to spot, but the mewling cry is unmistakeable.

Positive jeda On May 20, 2011, jeda from Kenosha, WI wrote:

The Gray Catbird is one of my favorite warm weather feathered guests. I've had these around my house for the last 19 years. They have always hung out in the trees and brush along the rairoad tracks. That is till this year. Initially I identified them by their namesake. I heard them and went looking for what I thought was an abandoned kitten by the railroad tracks. Then (after much patience ) I saw fleeting glimces of them. I love their varied song. It was just yesterday, May 19, 2011, that I got a real treat of just how varied their calling is. For some unknown reason to me the Catbirds have lost their shyness this year and have been up by the house. Two of them, M and FM I presume. I have been able to get I really good look at them. To me they are beautiful, like their songs. Must try to get some good pictures.
NOW about their songs. I was planting flowers yesterday when one of them came and perched in a birch tree just 20 feet or so away and began it's song. It was totally amazing. I wish I could have recorded it. It is in the Mockingbird family and it proved it to me. It's call was loud and clear, with short mimics of a Cardinal, a Sea Gull ( I live next to Lake Michigan) , a Killdeer, and a Robin, mixed in with other sounds. I'm going to keep listening and see if I can pick out other mimics. I figure I have been hearing these birds mimic other birds for years and took the song sounds as the real McCoy. I just had to share my experiece. I was so delighted . If I get some good pics. I'll add them to this site.

Positive rabbitsdiner On Sep 30, 2011, rabbitsdiner from Carmel, IN wrote:

My experience with catbirds is more to the humorous side. A pair nests by my garden pavilion. They believe the structure to be their own. They strongly object to my use of it. They become quite loud when I come around. I have named them Madge and Larry because I often hear one of them calling in a harsh voice of an overbearing woman. It sounds for all the world like she is calling "Larry!...Larry!!" . I think Larry is hiding ;-).

Neutral Clary On Jun 17, 2012, Clary from Lewisburg, PA
(Zone 6b) wrote:

We have recently had a pair of nesting catbirds on our property.

I have never heard the cat mewing call, only a squeaky almost mechanical warbling that sounds like a poor imitation of a robin.

These birds are not at all shy in my experience. They perch on a high fencepost and dive at literally anything that comes near its nest; included in its territory are both of my birdbaths and nectar flowers. The catbirds have dived at me while I am filling the bath and they vigorously chase every other bird of any species. Traffic at the bird bath has significantly declined due to these bullies.

The only positives I can find in having these birds around is that at times there were too many birds in the baths, mainly house sparrows; they would come by the dozens, fouling the water and landing on the flowers. Catbirds also eat insects.

UPDATE: I have upgraded my rating of the grey catbird from negative to neutral; the birds are growing on me despite my initial irritation with them!

Now that the fledgling(s) are independent, the territorialism has declined to a half-hearted swoop or "shout" to any creatures who encroach.

I have begun to appreciate the absence of the periodic flocks of house sparrows, and other birds are becoming less intimidated by the catbirds.

Their attempt at mimicry is quite amusing; the predominant song of the spring was "artificial robin" but recently I have heard them mimicking cardinals and wrens.

Most hilarious is their hectoring of my dog (from at least 10 feet away) - to which she is oblivious - including "barking" at her from low tree branches. It's very funny :)

I suspect that I may give these birds a positive one of these days, because I think I would miss their brash personalities if they left my garden!

Positive patriciaarln On Jul 8, 2012, patriciaarln from Arlington, VA wrote:

There are several catbirds in my neighborhood in the summer, and they have become favorites of mine. I believe they are predominantly insect-eaters. I never see them at my seed or suet feeders. But when I mow the lawn or plant something, one catbird will stay practically on top of me, keeping me company. I suspect he/she is looking for earthworms or other insects I may flush out. My catbirds are definitely NOT shy! I look for them every year now. They seem to arrive at about the same time as the lightning bugs.

Positive tmaslanka On Jul 19, 2012, tmaslanka from Ardmore, PA wrote:

These birds visit my garden every year and have quite a personality. There is a mulberry tree next to my deck which they love. After the berries are gone I tried other fruit. They ate all of my patio blueberries. Then I put out some raisins and I made a friend for life. The robins eat them also. But in the morning and evening they can either see or here me and they fly in front of the sliding door. Telling me I'm here where are my raisins ? Once i put a raisin on the table 4 feet from me and he came a got it. And they do have a beautiful sound besides the meowing.

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