Gray Catbirds of the Okefenokee Swamp

Gray Catbird
Grey Catbird, Dumetella carolinensis, Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Stephen C Foster State Park, Georgia. March 4, 2017 ©

One of the most common sounds to break the silence of the Okefenokee Swamp is that of the Gray Catbird. This nasally “meow” is how it gained its name. All About Birds describes it as “a raspy mew that sounds like a cat.” If you listen to an audio clip before heading into the bush, you’ll soon realize that you are surrounded by unseen catbirds by their persistent calling from the tangles and scrub of the Okefenokee.

When you do finally spot one, you’ll notice an all gray bird with a black cap. Less frequently seen is the rich burgundy color beneath its tail. It is about the size of a Mockingbird. In fact, they are in the same family as the Mockingbird – the Mimidae. When the Catbird isn’t busy meowing like a cat, it actually has a pleasant song which can last several minutes. The eBird frequency charts show that the Gray Catbird is most commonly observed from October to May.

iNaturalist observation:

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