Catbird at Gatorland

Gray Catbird Gatorland 03-23-21 by Lee

Today we took another ride over to Gatorland to see how the eggs had developed. As we were heading back to the “rookery,” we were surprised by a rare find in a tree as we were walking there.

Catbird – Zoomed

As is typical of Catbirds, they are quick movers and like to stay hidden as much as possible. This one was all over the place until he finally came out on a branch where I could get a decent photo.

Catbird at Gatorland – by Lee

Had this bird not let out one of its soft “cat call,” We would have probably walked right by it.

“This species is named for its cat-like call. Like many members of the Mimidae (in particular mockingbirds), it also mimics the songs of other birds, as well as those of Hylidae (tree frogs), and even mechanical sounds. Because of its well-developed songbird syrinx, it is able to make two sounds at the same time. The alarm call resembles the quiet calls of a male mallard.

A gray catbird’s song is easily distinguished from that of the northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) or brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) because the mockingbird repeats its phrases or “strophes” three to four times, the thrasher usually twice, but the catbird sings most phrases only once. The catbird’s song is usually described as more raspy and less musical than that of a mockingbird.

In contrast to the many songbirds that choose a prominent perch from which to sing, the catbird often elects to sing from inside a bush or small tree, where it is obscured from view by the foliage.” (Wikipedia – Gray Catbird)

Catbird at Gatorland 03-23-21

Our Catbird find was encouraging, as it was sort of quiet today, until we got near the few hatch-lings. But, that will have to wait until the next post.

As the Catbirds call out, it can remind us of Psalm 91:15:

“He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.”

Considering we haven’t been birdwatching in some time, other than out the back door, I thought I would share the Catbird, while I check the rest of the photos. It was just about a month ago that we were last at Gatorland, and there is a new group of birds laying eggs. Stay tuned!

Gatorland Again – 2021

Wordless Birds

Grey (or Gray) Catbird Mimicry

Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) by Africaddict

Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) by Africaddict

I came across a very interesting YouTube from the LabofOrnithology. It tells about how the Grey (Gray) Catbird mimics so many bird species (and a frog also). Listen as Greg Budney, audio curator at the Macaulay Library, dissects the recording and notes each snippet of mimicked song. (IOC uses the name Grey Catbird and some others still use the Gray spelling.)



Isn’t that amazing? He produced it very well by showing the bird and then the Catbird mimicking it. I have always enjoyed finding our Grey Catbirds in this area. (When you can find them!)

Catbirds get their name because they belong to several unrelated groups of songbirds because their wailing calls, which resemble a cat’s meowing. The genus name Ailuroedus likewise is from the Greek for “cat-singer” or “cat-voiced”.

Australasian catbirds are the genera Ailuroedus and the monotypic Scenopooetes. They belong to the bowerbird family (Ptilonorhynchidae) of the basal songbirds:

  • White-eared Catbird (Ailuroedus buccoides) *LLABS
  • Green Catbird (Ailuroedus crassirostris)
  • Spotted Catbird (Ailuroedus melanotis)

New World catbirds are two monotypic genera from the mimid family (Mimidae) of the passeridan superfamily Muscicapoidea. Among the Mimidae, they represent independent basal lineages probably closer to the Caribbean thrasher and trembler assemblage than to the mockingbirds and Toxostoma thrashers:

  • Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)*LLABS*
  • Black Catbird (Melanoptila glabrirostris)

A monotypic genus from Africa. It is tentatively placed in the Sylviidae – Sylviid Babblers of the passeridan superfamily Sylvioidea, but possibly closer to the typical warblers of the Sylviidae.

  • Abyssinian Catbird (Parophasma galinieri)
Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) by Raymond Barlow

Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) by Raymond Barlow

Woe to the world for such temptations to sin and influences to do wrong!… (Matthew 18:7 AMP)

And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he repeated them in the hearing of the LORD. (1 Samuel 8:21 NKJV)

He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends. (Proverbs 17:9 AMP)

By the blessing of the influence of the upright and God’s favor [because of them] the city is exalted, but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked. He who belittles and despises his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding keeps silent. He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy and faithful in spirit keeps the matter hidden. (Proverbs 11:11-13 AMP)

As I was watching the video some verses came to mind. What are we mimicking? I’ve written about the birds that repeat what we say in, Birds of the Bible – Repeating Birds. When we watch TV, listen to music, listen to speeches, read the newspaper, etc. We are being influenced. There are times when we “mimic” what we have seen or heard. It can go either way.

We can hear and mimic (copy) the good OR we can hear and mimic (copy) the bad. I trust we are following the Lord and His teachings.

If we mimic, let us mimic the Lord.



Ian’s Bird of the Week – Green Catbird

 Green Catbird (Ailuroedus crassirostris) by Ian 1

Green Catbird (Ailuroedus crassirostris) by Ian 1

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Green Catbird ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 12/18/12

My trip to Sydney produced another bird on my wanted list that I had taken only poor photos of before, the Green Catbird. It’s not rare or, given its calls, hard to find in its favourite habitat of temperate and sub-tropical rainforest, but most birds apart from things like Brush-Turkeys are hard to photograph in rainforest. It’s call is not as one might expect a gentle miaowing but more like a cat being given an injection at the vets or those rude sounds make with balloons and as such, is one of the delights of east coast rainforest.

Australian Catbirds, unrelated to American Catbirds, are members of the Bowerbird family. Unlike their flamboyant cousins, they form pair-bonds and the males help in domestic chores like nest-building. So, eschewing wild mating behaviour, they don’t build wonderful bowers or collect flashy toys. Everything has its price, one supposes, but the call is some compensation. At 24-32cm/10-13in in length, they’re comparable in size to Satin Bowerbirds and, if silent in foliage, can be confused with female or immature members of that species.

Green Catbird (Ailuroedus crassirostris) by Ian 2

Green Catbird (Ailuroedus crassirostris) by Ian 2

The generic name Ailuroedus comes from the Greek ailouros for cat and odos for a singer, which is stretching the definition of singer slightly, but maybe singing embraces yodelling. The range of the Green Catbird extends from the south coast of New South Wales (Narooma) to near Gladstone on the central coast of Queensland. In tropical Queensland it is replaced by the very similar-looking and similar-sounding Spotted Catbird which featured as Bird of the Week in 2006 (below).

Green Catbird (Ailuroedus crassirostris) by Ian 3

Green Catbird (Ailuroedus crassirostris) by Ian 3

The ‘Spotted’ presumably refers to the stronger markings on the breast as the Green Catbird has more obvious white spots on the back (second photo) but the main difference is the darker markings on the face of the Spotted Catbird. As their ranges don’t overlap, distinguishing between them isn’t an issue. The Spotted Catbird extends from Paluma Range National Park, near Bluewater where I live to Cooktown and there is a separate population, recognised as a different race with darker face markings, on Cape York (e.g. Iron Range). In the past, both Green and Spotted were treated as a single species and some of the splitters would like to make the Cape York race a full species, another tick I suppose. There are other races of the Spotted in New Guinea and another species, the White-eared Catbird, A. buccoides.

Best wishes

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737
Check the latest website updates:

Lee’s Addition:

The Green Catbird is part of the Ptilonorhynchidae – Bowerbirds Family which has three Catbirds, the White-eared Catbird (Ailuroedus buccoides), Green Catbird (Ailuroedus crassirostris) and the Spotted Catbird (Ailuroedus melanotis). Ian has the family as Australian Catbirds & Bowerbirds.

Dan and I were able to see a White-eared Catbird (Ailuroedus buccoides) this year at the Zoo Miami. Most of the time when I think of a Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis), it is ours  which is in a completely different family. (Mimidae – Mockingbirds, Thrashers) The Black Catbird (Melanoptila glabrirostris) is also part of that family. The 6th Catbird, Abyssinian Catbird (Parophasma galinieri) is in yet another family (Sylviidae – Sylviid Babblers).

See more of Ian’s Bird of the Week adventures.


Birds Vol 1 #5 – The American Catbird

American Catbird for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

American Catbird for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

Vol 1. May, 1897 No. 5




HE CATBIRD derives his name from a fancied resemblance of some of his notes to the mew of the domestic cat. He is a native of America, and is one of the most familiarly known of our famous songsters. He is a true thrush, and is one of the most affectionate of our birds. Wilson has well described his nature, as follows:

“In passing through the woods in summer I have sometimes amused myself with imitating the violent chirping or clucking of young birds, in order to observe what different species were round me; for such sounds at such a season in the woods are no less alarming to the feathered tenants of the bushes than the cry of fire or murder in the street is to the inhabitants of a large city. On such occasion of alarm and consternation, the Catbird is first to make his appearance, not single but sometimes half a dozen at a time, flying from different quarters to the spot. At this time those who are disposed to play on his feelings may almost throw him into a fit, his emotion and agitation are so great at what he supposes to be the distressful cries of his young. He hurries backward and forward, with hanging wings, open mouth, calling out louder and faster, and actually screaming with distress, until he appears hoarse with his exertions. He attempts no offensive means, but he wails, he implores, in the most pathetic terms with which nature has supplied him, and with an agony of feeling which is truly affecting. At any other season the most perfect imitations have no effect whatever on him.”

The Catbird is a courageous little creature, and in defense of its young it is so bold that it will contrive to drive away any snake that may approach its nest, snakes being its special aversion. His voice is mellow and rich, and is a compound of many of the gentle trills and sweet undulations of our various woodland choristers, delivered with apparent caution, and with all the attention and softness necessary to enable the performer to please the ear of his mate. Each cadence passes on without faltering and you are sure to recognize the song he so sweetly imitates. While they are are all good singers, occasionally there is one which excels all his neighbors, as is frequently the case among canaries.

The Catbird builds in syringa bushes, and other shrubs. In New England he is best known as a garden bird. Mabel Osgood Wright, in “Birdcraft,” says: “I have found it nesting in all sorts of places, from an alder bush, overhanging a lonely brook, to a scrub apple in an open field, never in deep woods, and it is only in its garden home, and in the hedging bushes of an adjoining field, that it develops its best qualities—‘lets itself out,’ so to speak. The Catbirds in the garden are so tame that they will frequently perch on the edge of the hammock in which I am sitting, and when I move they only hop away a few feet with a little flutter. The male is undoubtedly a mocker, when he so desires, but he has an individual and most delightful song, filled with unexpected turns and buoyant melody.”


What do you think of this nest of eggs? What do you suppose Mrs. Catbird’s thoughts are as she looks at them so tenderly? Don’t you think she was very kind to let me take the nest out of the hedge where I found it, so you could see the pretty greenish blue eggs? I shall place it back where I got it. Catbirds usually build their nests in hedges, briars, or bushes, so they are never very high from the ground.

Did you ever hear the Catbird sing? He is one of the sweetest singers and his song is something like his cousin’s, the Brown Thrush, only not so loud.

He can imitate the songs of other birds and the sounds of many animals. He can mew like a cat, and it is for this reason that he is called “Catbird.” His sweetest song, though, is soft and mellow and is sung at just such times as this—when thinking of the nest, the eggs, or the young.

The Catbird is a good neighbor among birds. If any other bird is in trouble of any sort, he will do all he can to relieve it. He will even feed and care for little birds whose parents have left them. Don’t you think he ought to have a prettier name? Now remember, the Catbird is a Thrush. I want you to keep track of all the Thrushes as they appear in “Birds.” I shall try to show you a Thrush each month.

Next month you shall see the sweetest singer of American birds. He, too, is a Thrush. I wonder if you know what bird I mean. Ask your mamma to buy you a book called “Bird Ways.” It was written by a lady who spent years watching and studying birds. She tells so many cute things about the Catbird.

Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) by Africaddict

Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) by Africaddict

Lee’s Addition:

He sends the springs into the valleys; They flow among the hills. They give drink to every beast of the field; The wild donkeys quench their thirst. By them the birds of the heavens have their home; They sing among the branches. (Psalms 104:10-12 NKJV)

The Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) is in the Mockingbirds, Thrashers – Mimidae Family. We have managed to see them occasionally, but most times you are more apt to hear them than to see them.

Scolding call and a song of a Catbird, both from

Sound of its song.

The Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis), also spelled Grey Catbird, is a medium-sized northern American perching bird of the mimid family. It is the only member of the “catbird” genus Dumetella. Like the Black Catbird (Melanoptila glabrirostris), it is among the basal lineages of the Mimidae, probably a closer relative of the Caribbean thrasher and trembler assemblage than of the mockingbirds and Toxostoma thrashers. In some areas it is known as the Slate-colored Mockingbird.

Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) by Raymond Barlow

Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) by Raymond Barlow

Adults weigh around 35–40 g (1.2–1.4 oz) and are plain lead gray almost all over. The top of the head is darker. The undertail coverts are rust-colored and the remiges and rectrices are black, some with white borders. The slim bill, the eyes, and the legs and feet are also blackish. Males and females cannot be distinguished by their looks; different behaviours in the breeding season is usually the only clue to the observer. Juveniles are even plainer in coloration, with buffy undertail coverts.

Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 May, 1897 No 5 - Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 May, 1897 No 5 – Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited – Introduction

The above article is the first article in the monthly serial that was started in January 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited


(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – Bird Song

Previous Article – The Wood Thrush

ABC’s Of The Gospel


Gray Catbird – All About Birds – Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Gray Catbird – Dumetella carolinensis – USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter

Gray Catbird Information and Photos – South Dakota Birds and Birding

Gray or Grey Catbird – Wikipedia

Mockingbirds, Thrashers – Mimidae Family


Ad for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography 1897

Ad for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography 1897