Gray Catbird

The bird in the gray flannel suit.

They have that classic look, completely gray with a black skull cap and rust brown under the tail.   I found them very entertaining and intelligent.  After all these years I still remember my first encounter with them.

I heard a cat meow from one of the bushes, so I went looking for it thought that maybe a neighbor kitten was in there.  I didn’t see any.  A few minutes later the meow call came again but from the branch above me.  I looked up to see the kitten I was looking for was a gray bird with a black skull cap.  It was true to the description of catbird calls that the Cornell Ornithology Dept. put on their website, once you heard it, you can’t forget it.  They can sing non-stop for several minutes at a time and after a long sweet vocal, end with a meow.

Catbirds at our fruit bar

They are very tame and did I mention intelligent?  They love fruits.  We trap chipmunks with fruit bait and one of the catbirds got trapped in the cage once.  They learned.  Now they trip the trap then get the fruit through the metal bars from outside.  One great story showing their intelligence was the time we had a chipmunk trapped in the cage.  We left half a peach in the cage for the critter.  I saw a catbird walk around the cage trying to determine which side was the closest to the peach.  Then he reached for the peach, pulled it a little bit closer to the bars.  The poor chipmunk, aside from being trapped, now had his food being stolen right in front of his face.  I had to hand it to the chipmunk, he pulled the peach back to the middle of the cage.  At this point, he was more concerned with keeping his prize than being trapped.

Assess options to the peach

I learned that catbirds love oranges, incidentally.  I put out oranges for the Baltimore Orioles but I found that the Catbirds are the ones who finish most of them.  So far, the Orioles haven’t come down to eat.   I don’t mind at all since they also work in the garden getting rid of the pests and serenade us with their sweet song.  They are one of the friendly birds that like to hang out around me when I work in the garden.

4 thoughts on “Gray Catbird

  1. So glad I found your blog. I just spotted 2 catbirds in one of trees and just Googled to figure out what they were. I’ll be sure to set out a few oranges for them tomorrow.

    1. Thank you for visiting my blog. They are very intelligent birds and fun to watch, though not much for colors but make up for that with their singing. They also love berries, especially blueberry and they eat Japanese beetles. Watched one today chasing a loose blueberry that kept rolling away on the deck outside.

  2. I just spotted my first gray catbird on my finch feeder, perched upside down on the side of the sun chip filled feeder. Love your tray feeder filled with oranges. Do you have any problems with other creatures bothering the oranges? Placement will be strategic for me since I have a daily hawk that is a problem for my precious birds.

    1. Squirrels, the ultimate burglar, will take the orange. Otherwise, Catbirds, Baltimore Orioles and Red-bellied Woodpeckers share the orange basket.

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