Within a few short weeks the Gray Catbird, Dumetella carolinensis, will return from its winter home and add its plaintive cry to the sounds of summer in southern Wisconsin. It is a member of the bird family Mimidae, whose closest local relative is the Brown Thrasher. The catbird subsists on a diet of fruit and small arthropods. Besides the "meow" call which gives it its name, the catbird vocalizes in long, complex song with little melody or repetition. Because it favors dense shrubbery, it is more often heard than seen. Look for it close to the water, skulking among thick bushes or trees within ten or fifteen feet of the ground. Its uniformly gray feathers and black cap are distinctive, and its dark kewpie-doll eyes will not fail to charm.
The Gray Catbird will nest in our area and will be here all summer. In the fall it will return to the southern U.S. and the Caribbean for the winter. Enjoy it while it's here.
Written by John Minnich, Madison Audubon Financial Manager