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Catbird

Order: Passeriformes
Family: Mimidae
Genus: Dumetella
Species: carolinensis

La. passer  sparrow, small bird
La. forma  form, kind, species
La. mimus  mimic, actor
La. dumetum  a thicket
La. carolinensis  of Carolina

Catbird, F. C. Hennessey

F.C. Hennessey
 
About nine inches long. Dark slate gray upper parts. Dull black crown and tail. Underside slate gray. Long erect tail, chestnut underneath.
 

USGS Catbird Map
 

Abundant in the eastern and northwestern U.S. and in Canada, north to British Columbia, Hudson Bay and Nova Scotia. Winters in the southern U.S., Central America and the Caribbean. Likes brushy woods, swampy thickets, and frequents farms, towns and gardens.

Builds loosely woven nests of twigs, grass, leaves, bark and roots lined with fine grass in bushes, vines and low trees usually less than ten feet high.

Lays three to six deep bluish green eggs. Frequently raise two broods.

Runs along the ground. Hunts ants, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, spiders and caterpillars.

Catches moths, flies and other flying insects on the wing. Also likes many fruits, which make up a significant part of its diet.

Intelligent bird, friendly to humans.   Likes baths and loves to preen its feathers. A mocking bird, its varying melodies follow no discipline and it will imitate birds, frogs, cats, chickens, cartwheels and humans calling to it and it has a harsh cry like the mewing of a cat. 


Neighboring catbirds gather to drive away intruders with loud, obnoxious cries and if a brood is orphaned will feed and raise them.

A USGS research center web site and an older version of an Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation brochure included Catbirds and Thrashers as users of platforms.

The original brochure said: "These birds will use the nesting platform when natural nesting sites are unavailable. The platforms should be placed in partial shade along main branches of trees or under the eaves of a shed or porch roof."  

In 1993, Catbirds and Thrashers were deleted from the brochure because of a lack of documentation. 

However, Gilbert H. Trafton, the author of "Bird Friends", 1916, recommended

Catbird, Robert Bruce Horsfall, A Year with the Birds, Alice E. Ball, 1916

Robert Bruce Horsfall

platforms open on all four sides for Thrashers, Catbirds and Song Sparrows.

You may be more likely to attract a Robin, Dove or Phoebe, but if anyone has witnessed Catbirds or Thrashers in a platform structure, I would like to know. 

Catbird Song, F. Schuyler Mathews

 

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