I caught a glimpse of a Gray Catbird as it quietly perched upon a berry shrub back in February of this year. He or she was watching me intently as I slowly moved closer for a better view. After hearing the click from my camera's shutter, he was off and away...drats!
Gray Catbirds are relatives of mockingbirds and thrashers, and they share that group’s vocal abilities, copying the sounds of other species and stringing them together to make their own song. The most common call is a raspy mew that sounds like a cat. Catbirds also make a loud, chattering chek-chek-chek and a quiet quirt. The male Gray Catbird uses his loud song to proclaim his territory. He uses a softer version of the song when near the nest or when a bird intrudes on his territory. The female may sing the quiet song back to the male.
Gray Catbirds live amid dense shrubs, vine tangles, and thickets of young trees in both summer and winter. Catbirds from across North America spend winters along the Gulf Coast from Florida through Texas and all the way down Central America and the Caribbean. In summer, Gray Catbirds eat mainly ants, beetles, grasshoppers, midges, caterpillars, and moths. When fruits are available they also eat holly berries, cherries, elderberries, poison ivy, greenbrier, bay, and blackberries.
Undesirable characteristics of this bird species is that they are sometimes garden pests, eating or damaging raspberries, cherries, grapes, and strawberries. Gray Catbirds may also sometimes destroy eggs and nestlings of woodland species including Eastern Wood-Pewee, Chipping Sparrow, and Song Sparrow. Information derived from the online site of Cornell Lab of Ornithology.