Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gray Catbird

When it comes to shooting Gray Catbirds, it doesn’t get much better than this. The Gray Catbird is a member of the Mimidea family. These are the mimic thrushes. In this family are the Northern Mockingbird and the Brown Thrasher. Another mimic thrush found on SMU is the California Thrasher.

©2011 Steve Borichevsky

They are know as mimics because many of these imitate the calls of other birds, especially the Northern Mockingbird. I had a friend who was visually impaired and birded almost exclusively by ear. She came across one Northern Mockingbird that imitated 50+ birds. That’s pretty impressive! I’ve head a few do on the order of 10 other songs. When birding by ear in Mockingbird territory, one has to be careful because you can get fooled. Sometimes the Mockingbird doesn’t quite get it right or may be singing at the wrong ©2011 Steve Borichevskytime of day, (like that pesky rascal that used to sing outside my window in California ALL NIGHT LONG!)

For such a plain bird, I find it quite dapper. Sometimes you can see the chestnut brown under tail coverts. That is a tough field mark to photograph in most lighting conditions. I was lucky enough to get three shots from thirty feet. Two were keepers and one is in the dumpster.

Here I have overexpose the outtake so that you can see under tail coverts. Even in the field, this mark can be hard to see. The Gray Catbird is common, but secretive. They like to hide in thick bushes. This time of year, they are a little more visible while they are setting up territories and finding mates. They have a beautiful warbling call in the spring and soon will be raising young. After the nesting season starts you will only hear the “meuuu” cat call.

7 comments:

Kelly said...

I love Catbirds, and your photos are fab. Yesterday I had two sitting in the magnolia tree outside my office. I hope the pair sticks around!

bunnits said...

Your photos gave me a visit with an old friend. I used to see a lot of catbirds when I was a kid growing up in Tennessee. I don't think I've seen any in years and years. This was a treat. Thanks.

Roy said...

There is more detail to that bird that you would initially think Steve. Great Shot.

Carol Mattingly said...

Loved this post Steve. Helped me to learn a little more about these lovely birds. Carol

Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

Interesting and informative post. Too bad they do not live in California as I would like to hear their "meuuu" cat call.

Karen said...

Nothing plain about this bird, I find it very attractive. A beautiful shot.

Jann E. said...

You're so right about the catbird being secretive...I have one distant, blurry shot of one. But, at least I got to see it!

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