Thursday, July 7, 2011

Music Improv, Starring the Gray Catbird

We have catbirds around our yard, and it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I realized how beautiful their song is. I just thought they made the "meow" sound, but no: they have this cool improvisational song that never seems to repeat itself and is really impressive, at least to me.

The first time I heard the song I had to figure out who it was singing. After narrowing down the tree, my eyes scanned for what had to be some colorful bird - certainly some species I had never seen before. That's when I saw a catbird. They are pretty, but no one would consider them flashy. Regardless of appearance, their song is a lovely addition to the concert in our yard.

Gray Catbird
Dumetella carolinensis
The Catbird is named for its cat-like meow call, which is given when predators are present and during agressive encounters between birds. The Catbird's song is a long series of many phrases including imitations of other birds. The Gray Catbird is not as gifted a mimic as the Northern Mockingbird.
Habitat: Tangles, shrubbery, wood edges. Suburban and rural.

Catbird: Meow Call (image from

Catbird: Song (image from
(and I had difficulties uploading a higher quality version of this ... Blogger didn't like the large file. 'Guess I'll stick to uploading videos on YouTube in the future)

~ Audubon's Catbird ~

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