Gray Catbird

(Dumetella carolinensis)

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5B, N5N - Secure Breeding and Nonbreeding

SNRB - Unranked Breeding


not listed

Gray Catbird
Photo by Ramona Abrego

Gray Catbird is a chunky, medium-sized, perching bird. They are present in Minnesota from May through mid-October. They winter in the southeastern United States, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. The oldest recorded lifespan is of a bird in captivity is 17 years and 10 months.

Adults are 8¼ to 9½ long, weigh .8 ounce to 2 ounces, and have a wingspan of 8¾ to 12.

The wings, back, chest, and belly are slate gray. The bird often displays a raised tail when perched. The tail feathers are slate gray or dark gray above, black with pale edges below. The undertail coverts are chestnut brown. The legs and feet are black.

The head is slate gray with a black crown and forehead. The bill is short, slender, and black. The eyes are black.

Males and females are alike in size and appearance. They can be distinguished only by behavior in Breeding season.



8½ to 9in length

11 wingspan



The call is a descending, cat-like mew, not repeated.


The song is long and complex, consisting of a series of phrases, each phrase sung only once.


Similar Species

Gray Jay (Perisoreus canadensis) has a white forehead, cheek, and throat. It does not have a black crown or chestnut undertail coverts.

Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) has a pale throat, chest, and belly. The wings are dark with two white wing bars. It does not have a black crown, black forehead, or chestnut undertail coverts.

Townsend’s Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi) has buffy wing patches and a white eye ring. It does not have a black crown, black forehead, or chestnut undertail coverts.


Dense, deciduous, woodland thickets, forest edges






Gray Catbirds usually have two broods per season. Breeding begins soon after the adults reach the Breeding territory in April. The female builds a nest, sometimes with the male supplying materials, usually on a horizontal branch near the center of a dense shrub or small tree.

The female lays usually 3 or 4, but as few as 1 or as many as 5, turquoise-colored eggs. The eggs hatch after 12 to 14 days. The young leave the nest after 10 or 11 days.



Fruit, seeds, insects, and other invertebrates.



Common migrant and breeder



The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union All Seasons Species Occurrence Map



Aves (birds)


Passeriformes (perching birds)


Mimidae (mockingbirds and thrashers)


Dumetella (catbirds)


Subordinate Taxa









Visitor Photos

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Gregory Gilman

Gray Catbird    



Margot Avey

Gray Catbird    

It was in the marshy area.


Ramona Abrego

Gray Catbird    


Gray Catbird    

Has a nest in my raspberries with blue eggs, next day chicks


Lynn Rubey

A Gray Catbird foraging on the ground in The Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge, a rather secretive bird that the Chippewa Indians named "the bird that cries with grief" due to its raspy call. It will only nest in thick shrubs.   Gray Catbird

Bill Reynolds

Gray Catbird    

Tom Baker

Gray Catbird   Gray Catbird
Gray Catbird Photos
Gray Catbird  





Gray Catbird
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird
JMC Nature Photos

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbirds

Gray Catbirds

Gray Catbird
Craig A. Mullenbach

Gray Catbird



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos

Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) mating song


Uploaded on May 19, 2011

Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) mating song in rose bush... video of bird, sorry...I had to hide the camera in the bush, & wait for the male to return.

The Gray Catbird (Mimidae: Dumetella carolinensis)
Carl Barrentine


Uploaded on Dec 28, 2009

A brief but contemplative look at the Gray Catbird, which is an often heard but seldom seen avian species found in deciduous and riparian habitats throughout the upper midwest of the United States. Specimens shown here were photographed in North Dakota.

Gray Catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis)


Published on May 14, 2013

In this video, two gray catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis) are shown hopping around branches in a small ravine. This video was recorded on May 11, 2013 in Guilford, Connecticut.

Gray Catbird Mewing - June 25, 2013
Don Gagnon


Published on Jun 27, 2013

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) Mewing, Yellow Trail, Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Refuge, Seapowet Avenue, Tiverton, Rhode Island, Tuesday afternoon, June 25, 2013, 5:14 PM - Canon PowerShot SX50 HS MVI_23490; 2:54 min.



Visitor Sightings

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5/1/2024 & ongoing

Location: Red Wing, MN

we have had a pair (male and female) feeding all day long at our oriole feeder-specifically out of the two glass cups filled with grape jelly, which are attached to the feeder. they go between our oriole feeder and our open-holed hummingbird feeder-frequently just sitting on it sucking out the nectar, tho not when the hummers are there!

Chuck Becker
6 pm

Location: Chanhassen, MN

I saw two gray cat birds at our sunflower seed fly through feeder. Then they went to our suet seed feeder, then they ate grape jelly from our Oriole  feeder.

We have lived in our Chanhassen town home 44 years and this is the first time we have ever seen them.


Location: St Paul, Midway

Nesting pair appear to be in either my or my neighbor's backyard (raspberries, oak tree, vine/shrubs are all possible locations). They've been around for a while but today they were very noisy at my neighbor's cat in their yard so I finally looked up what they were.


Location: Plymouth MN

This bird hit my 2nd story window, and lay on the concrete below. I thought he would die, and it was 97 degrees, so put a bucket beside him to shade him. 4 hours later he is standing, which surprised me. I moved him with to shade behind my garage and make him a house out of a small box with both water and grape jelly inside. He did not seem afraid. He stays overnight in his box house. I check on him in the morning, and see his jelly is almost gone. I bring more jelly to his house, and he flies out and lands in my yard. Then flies away.


Location: Forest Prairie Township, Central Minnesota

Had a pair hanging out in our yard this morning.

Gregory Gilman

Location: Rochester, MN


Gray Catbird
Ramona Abrego

Location: Washington County

Gray Catbird
Margot Avey

Location: Westwood Nature Center in St. Louis Park MN

It was in the marshy area.

Gray Catbird

Location: Maplewood MN

Has a nest in my raspberries with blue eggs, next day chicks

Gray Catbird

Location: North Branch

Quite vocal, constantly calling from around our campsite

Gavia Immer

Location: eDuluth, MN; Hunter's Park Neighborhood

at suet feeder; potentially nesting in White Cedar Grove

Lynn Rubey

Location: Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge

A Gray Catbird foraging on the ground in The Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge, a rather secretive bird that the Chippewa Indians named "the bird that cries with grief" due to its raspy call. It will only nest in thick shrubs.

Gray Catbird


Location: Eden Prairie

Tom Baker

Location: Purgatory Creek Park

Gray Catbird
Tom Baker

Location: Purgatory Creek Park

Gray Catbird
Bill Reynolds

Location: Pennington Co.

Gray Catbird Sightings

Afton State Park

Avon Hills Forest SNA, North Unit

Baker Park Reserve

Banning State Park

Blackhoof River WMA

Blaine Preserve SNA

Blaine Wetland Sanctuary

Blue Mounds State Park

Buffalo River State Park

Bur Oak WMA

Camden State Park

Cannon River Trout Lily SNA

Cannon River Turtle Preserve SNA

Cannon River Wilderness Area

Carver Highlands WMA, South Unit

Carver Park Reserve

Cedar Mountain SNA

Cedar Rock SNA

Chamberlain Woods SNA

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park

Cherry Grove Blind Valley SNA

Chimney Rock SNA

Clifton E. French Regional Park

Clinton Falls Dwarf Trout Lily SNA

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

Des Moines River SNA

Dodge Nature Center

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Englund Ecotone SNA

Falls Creek SNA

Felton Prairie SNA, Bicentennial Unit

Flandrau State Park

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park

Franconia Bluffs SNA

Frenchman’s Bluff SNA

Frontenac State Park

Glacial Lakes State Park

Glendalough State Park

Gneiss Outcrops SNA

Great River Bluffs State Park

Grey Cloud Dunes SNA

Hastings Sand Coulee SNA

Helen Allison Savanna SNA

Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Hythecker Prairie SNA

Iron Horse Prairie SNA

Jensen Memorial WMA

John A. Latsch State Park

John Murtaugh Memorial WMA

John Peter Hoffman Spring Brook Valley WMA

Kasota Prairie

Kasota Prairie SNA

Keller Regional Park

Kellogg Weaver Dunes SNA, Kellogg Weaver Unit

Kilen Woods State Park

King’s and Queen’s Bluff SNA

La Salle Lake SNA

Lake Alexander Woods SNA, South Unit

Lake Byllesby Regional Park

Lake Bronson State Park

Lake Louise State Park

Lake Rebecca Park Reserve

Lester Lake SNA

Lost Valley Prairie SNA

Margherita Preserve-Audubon Prairie

Miesville Ravine Park Reserve

Mille Lacs WMA

Miller Prairie, East Unit

Minneopa State Park

Minnesota Valley NWR, Black Dog Unit

Minnesota Valley NWR, Rapids Lake Unit

Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area, Lawrence Unit

Monson Lake State Park

Mound Prairie SNA

Mound Spring Prairie SNA, North Unit

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

Myre-Big Island State Park

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Hoffman Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Rengstorf Unit

Old Mill State Park

Oronoco Prairie SNA

P.N. and G.M. Nelson Wildlife Sanctuary

Pembina Trail Preserve SNA, Pembina Trail Unit

Pin Oak Prairie SNA

Pine Bend Bluffs SNA

Prairie Bush Clover SNA

Prairie Creek WMA, Koester Prairie Unit

Racine Prairie SNA

Rice Lake Savanna SNA

Rice Lake State Park

Ritter Farm Park

River Terrace Prairie SNA

River Warren Outcrops SNA

Robert Ney Memorial Park Reserve

St. Croix Savanna SNA

St. Croix State Park

Sakatah Lake State Park

Sand Prairie Wildlife Management and Environmental Education Area

Sandpiper Prairie SNA

Santee Prairie SNA

Savanna Portage State Park

Schaefer Prairie

Schoolcraft State Park

Sedan Brook SNA

Seminary Fen SNA

Seven Mile Creek County Park

Seven Sisters Prairie

Seven Springs WMA

Sheepberry Fen

Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge

Shooting Star Prairie SNA

Sibley State Park

Split Rock Creek State Park

Spring Creek Prairie SNA

Spring Lake Park Reserve

Springbrook Nature Center

Sunfish Lake Park

Thorson Prairie WMA

Tiedemann WMA

Tribute WMA

Twin Valley Prairie Addition

Upper Sioux Agency State Park

Vermillion River WMA

Westwood Hills Nature Center

Whitetail Woods Regional Park

Whitewater State Park

Wild Indigo SNA

Wild River State Park

William O’Brien State Park

Wood-Rill SNA

Woodbury WMA

Woodland Trails Regional Park






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