Nesting Catbirds

It’s common to hear the mews and endless melodies of a catbird at close range, but much more difficult to actually get a good look at one. The Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) inhabits thickets of dense shrubs and small trees, where it feeds, nests and hops about in the shadows. My typical sighting is a “glimpse”, usually with the sun in my face!

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Gray Catbird delivering an insect to its nestlings

In late June I noticed a pair of birds spending a lot of time in a small thicket, feeding on ripening fruit and insects.

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Gray Catbird feeding on partially ripened Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.) fruit in late June

I observed the thicket briefly for several mornings in early July and learned of a nest at about eye level in a dense, spiny barberry (Berberis vulgaris) shrub. A steady diet of bugs of all sizes and shapes was delivered by both parents throughout the day. Nearby, a Staghorn Sumac provided a temporary landing point before the birds sneaked into the thorny barberry to feed their young.

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The catbirds also used the sumac as a perch for grooming and resting in the heat of the day.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

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10 thoughts on “Nesting Catbirds

    • Thanks Donna. I obviously like bug-in-the-mouth meal pics too. If I taught entomology, I’d slip one of those into a PowerPoint test once in awhile to keep everybody on their toes!

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