|Photo from Wikimedia Commons|
In summer, Gray Catbirds eat mainly ants, beetles, grasshoppers, midges, caterpillars, and moths. They also eat native fruits from trees and shrubs such as dogwood, winterberry, and serviceberry. You may see catbirds at the jelly and fruit feeders you put out for the orioles and also at the suet, nut and mealworm feeders.
Gray Catbirds are only with us in mid-Michigan during the spring and summer to nest. They begin their nocturnal migration in flocks of about 10 to 15 birds to wintering grounds in August. During the winter they live in the extreme southeastern United States, along the east coast of Mexico, and in the Caribbean Islands. Their migration, especially those individuals that cross the Gulf of Mexico, requires so much energy that they will have to increase their mass to the upper limit of what flight allows to complete the journey.
The Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) get its name from the catty mew calls it produces. Their genus name Dumetella is based upon the Latin term dūmus (small thornbush-dweller) which refers to the species' habit of singing when hidden in undergrowth. Listen for the distinctive mew call of the Gray Catbird, or for its imitation of several species during a long, seemingly improvised series of notes at the top of a dense, tangled thickets.