Gray Catbird

(Dumetella carolinensis)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

Gray Catbird


N5B, N5N - Secure Breeding and Nonbreeding

SNRB - Unranked Breeding


not listed


Common migrant and breeder


Dense, deciduous, woodland thickets, forest edges


8½ to 9in length

11 wingspan

Photo by Tom Baker


This 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.


Descending, cat-like mew, not repeated.


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.


Fruit, seeds, insects, and other invertebrates.


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.







Passeriformes (perching birds)



Mimidae (mockingbirds and thrashers)






Visitor Photos

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Bill Reynolds

  Gray Catbird    

Tom Baker

  Gray Catbird   Gray Catbird
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  Gray Catbird
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
  Gray Catbird  
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JMC Nature Photos
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Craig A. Mullenbach
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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.





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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



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