Gray catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis) can be a bit like bipolar birds, sometimes lurking in dense bushes or trees and other times being quite brave, out in the open and allowing a close approach.
The catbird is slightly smaller than a Robin. It is a slim, gray bird (hence the name!) with a black cap, long black tail, with a bit of reddish on its undertail. It also has a short black beak and blackish markings on its wings. Both males and females are similar in coloring.
The gray catbird is a member of the Mimidae family, commonly known as the mimic thrush family. The Mockingbird also belongs to this family. Birds in this family are known for their ability to mimic sounds of other birds and creatures. They also generally have the same general coloring (browns or grays), tend to have longer tails and bills that curve downward. Catbirds, unlike other birds in its family, sings its tune only one, as opposed to repeating multiple times. It is known as a catbird for its ability to mimic the mewing sound of a cat. If only a cat could immitate a bird, perhaps it would find dinner faster!
These birds are common in the eastern half of the United States. For the winter, they migrate during night hours down to the southeastern portion of the United States, as well as down into the eastern parts of Mexico.
Gray catbirds are usually found solo or in pairs. They are monogamous and have 2 broods of 2-6 eggs per season. They are tame birds and allow for easy approach, but they are known to fiercely defend their nests. They enjoy munching on berries, insects and will eat odd things out of feeders such as cheese, crackers and milk. Perhaps there is more to their name than research lets on!