Plate 3: Catbird

Dumetella carolinensis

Nests & Eggs: Catbird

His song resembles the meow of a cat. You’ll find him at the top of a dense thicket.

This trim member of the mocker family leaves no doubt as to his identity. No other bird has a uniform slate-gray plumage with a black cap and rusty brown under-tail coverts. It makes little difference if you miss the rusty marking under the tail, or even see the bird, for he soon discloses his identity by his song. The normal song consists of a series of musical phrases, well seasoned with catlike mews, often heard coming from some concealed perch in shrubs or low bushes, for there is the favorite home of the catbird.

Altho slightly smaller than a Robin, he consumes many insects while waiting for the small fruit and berries to ripen. Mulberries and wild cherries are relished in season, while strawberries, blackberries or grapes are not overlooked.

He prefers low shrubbery or vines for nesting and builds rather a bulky structure of sticks, twigs, paper, rags or leaves, lined with finer material. Two broods during the summer keep the parents busily engaged.

When trying to impress his mate, he often fluffs his feathers out until he looks much larger, sticks his head up with mouth open and struts around like a clown. It is just a part of nature.

Introduction to Our Bird Friends, Vol I.
  • Print out the notebooking pages provided below.
  • Read the The Catbird story in Bird Biographies out loud.
  • Have a younger student orally narrate what was read. He can then copy a few lines of his narration onto the notebooking pages.
  • Older students can read the text, Plate III: Catbird, and provide a written narration.
  • Sketch the bird. This encourages attention to detail, which will aid in identifying the bird later on. Another option is to use the printables provided below.
  • Sketch the nest of the bird, along with the eggs. Note where the nest is usually found.
  • Older students can include the taxonomy.
  • Learn more about the Gray Catbird at Cornell.
  • On one notebooking page note the facts:
    • Description.
    • Habitat.
    • Range.
    • Food.
    • Nest.
    • Eggs.
    • Call.
  • The Catbird is covered in The Burgess Bird Book: CHAPTER XXVII. A New Friend and an Old One.
Additional Resources

30 Narration Ideas
At some point you might appreciate some variety.

The Bird Study sections of our free nature study series: Our Wonderful World:

Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World
Printables & Notebooking Pages

Catbird Notebooking Pages
Free simple notebooking set.

Bird picture for notebook.

Kitty the Catbird
Corresponding print from The Burgess Bird Book.

Fifty Favorite Birds Coloring Book

Fifty Favorite Birds Coloring Book
Dover Nature Coloring Book based on Fifty Birds of Town and City by Bob Hines. Includes the catbird.

Catbird Range Map
For notebook from Cornell.

Bird Facts Notebooking Page
One option in a more graphic organizer style that is especially nice for noting the facts and range.

Enjoy the entire series:

Create a website or blog at