About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bird that sounds like a baby crying

I keep hearing an animal calling in my heavily wooded back yard. I first thought it was a cat. It's very repetitive. Sometimes it sounds just like a mew and sometimes just a weird wail like a baby crying.

Gray Catbirds are moving through the area! Most catbirds winter in the tropics of Mexico and Central America where fruit is plentiful. They show up to nest in Michigan from April to May.

Catbirds often announces their presence by singing a series of musical whistles and catlike meows, mixed up with mimicry of other birds' songs. They may start singing before dawn and can continue until after dark.

Once you hear them calling, look for them in dense underbrush as they forage for insects or dropped fruit. They may also visit oriole or suet feeders. Gray Catbirds are slim, gray birds about 8 ½ inches long with a dapper black cap and rusty red feathers under their tail.

Gray Catbirds nest in dense thickets, along forest edges, streamsides, and old fields. They build a bulky cup nest for an average 4 turquoise-colored eggs, which are incubated by the female and hatch in about 2 weeks. Young are cared for by both parents and leave the nest in about another 2 weeks. A mated pair may raise two broods in a season. See a video: https://vimeo.com/151960958


dawn kraemer said...

I live in the west coast of Florida and I have had two of these birds in the last two days fly into my window. I pick them up and let them rest and they fly away. I have never seen this bird before. Do they normally come to fla for the winter

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

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.

You can view the range map at: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Gray_Catbird/id