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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Gray Catbird -- Dumetella carolinensis

RANGE: Breeds from southern British Columbia, southern Ontario, and Nova Scotia, south to central New Mexico and northern Florida, and west to northern and south-central Washington, south-central and eastern Oregon, north-central Utah, and central and northeastern Arizona. Winters from north-central and eastern Texas, the central portions of the Gulf States and in the Atlantic Coastal lowlands from Long Island south along the Gulf-Caribbean slope of Central America.

STATUS: Common in breeding season.

HABITAT: Prefers dense thickets of shrubby edge habitat, but also inhabits shrubs, briars, vines along woodland borders, dry marsh edges, roadside shrubs, old house sites, abandoned fields, and fence rows.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Low, dense, shrubby vegetation.

NEST: Hides nest about 3 to 10 feet above the ground in almost any dense woody vegetation such as multiflora rose, barberry, lilac, mock-orange, osage orange, a hedge, or conifer tree.

FOOD: Gleans food from the ground; about half of diet is insects. In the fall, eats a variety of fruits.

REFERENCES: Forbush and May 1955, DeGraff et al. 1980, Nickell 1965, Terres 1980.

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