Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Gray Catbird
 
 

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  Order Passeriformes
   Suborder Passeres - Oscines (Song Birds)
      Parvorder Passerida (Superfamily Muscicapoidea)
         Family Mimidae - Mimic Thrushes

  Passerines are generally smaller than non-passerines. They have a perching foot with three toes directed forward and the one backward with locking tendons to facilitate perching when their tendons are flexed. All passerines scratch by bringing the foot over the wing. Incubation ranges from 11 -21 days. Young hatch blind with little or no down and spend 10-15 days or so in the nest - development is rapid and parents provide care beyond fledging.
Oscines are passerines with complex syringeal musculature used to produce varied vocalizations. 
Muscicapids include waxwings, dippers, thrushes, Old World flycatchers, starlings, and mimids.
Mimic Thrushes are medium-sized North American passerines with slender, often decurved bills. They are terrestrial or feed near the ground. they have complex songs that may incorporate phrases from other birds or the environment. They may defend a food source.
  Seabrook Mimic Thrushes:
   Gray Catbirds are found in dense thickets, often near water. Elements of their song are unique. Their call is a buzzy "meow."
   Northern Mockingbirds are found in open areas and fields. Their song elements are repeated about three (2-6) times . They may incorporate other bird's songs.
   Brown Thrashers are birds of the forest edge. Their song elements are repeated twice (2-3 times).
     
     
  Gray Catbird, Dumetella carolinensis
 
  Cornell     USGS     WIki     EoL
        YEAR ROUND - Common, breeds? / Common
            DENSE BRUSH, DAMP THICKETS, UNDERGROWTH, EDGE
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   The Gray Catbird is "gray" with a blackish cap and reddish under-tail coverts ("crissum"). They are relatively long tailed and use this tail expressively. They move actively through dense brush, often around wet areas and may feed on the ground..
Gray Catbird
     
Gray Catbird. Suet feeder (Clemson). Count feathers in the wing (2 alula, 10 primaries, etc.)
   
  RANGE: Catbirds breed broadly across the US. They range from Nova Scotia west to the Great Lakes and north into central Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, touching the Pacific in southern British Columbia. Their range includes western Washington, Idaho, Colorado and northern New Mexico east to central Texas and The Gulf Coast and Florida, and north up the Atlantic coast. In winter they move to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, Florida and eastern Mexico, south to Panama and the Greater Antilles.
   They are nocturnal migrants and may occur along the coast in large numbers during migration.
  BREEDING: Monogamous. Two broods. Catbirds build a cup-shaped nest in a dense thicket using twigs and leaves with a lining of fine material. The female builds the nest with some help from her mate. She lays 3-4 (2-) eggs) which she incubates for 12-14 days. Development is altricial and young fledge after 10-11 days. Both sexes care for the young.
   In courtship, the male pursues the female and struts with wings dragging but the tail erect, displaying the rusty crissum to a female (I've published a note describing this)...
  DIET: They feed on insects, berries, and fruits. (In spring when Viburnum berries ripen, their feces are deep purple - banders rapidly acquire purple hands and clothes). The young are fed all insects. At feeders, they will eat kitchen scraps - bread, cereal, donuts, cheese, etc.
  VOICE: The catbird's song is a slow, rambling warble with a variety of elements that are usually not repeated. The Gray Catbird is a mimic thrush and, as such, often incorporates song elements from other birds singing in the area. See the next page for a discussion of song differences among our three mimids.
   Catbirds also have a distinctive, cat-like "meow" that can be used to locate them in the edges they inhabit. In the spring of 2010, we have had one singing each day in dense brush on the edge of Capn' Sam's Creek.
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Seabrook (breeds). Kiawah - common year round (breeds). Edisto - resident.
      Coastal - uncommon summer resident, common winter visitor. Hilton Head - fairly common permanent resident.
         Cape Romain - occasional/occasional (breeds)/common/common.
         Huntington Beach
- uncommon June - August; common September - May.
      Caw Caw - fairly common/uncommon/common/fairly common. ACE - occasional/occasional (breeds)/ common/common.
   Kiawah Island banding - Capn' Sam's spit - 123 (18 recaptures) Oct-Nov 2009; 5 Jan-Feb 2010; 22 (8 recaptures) Apr-May 2010;
       89 (21 recaptures) Sep-Nov 2010; 4 (8 recaptures) Jan-Mar 2011; 10 (5 recaptures) Mar-May 2011; 305 (42 recaptures) Sep-Nov 2011;
       1 (6 recaptures) Jan -May 2012; 65 (6 recaptures) Sep 2012. Cougar Island - 48 (4 recaptures) Sep-Nov 2009.
   CBC: ACE 11, 3, 55, 20, 15, 9, 14, 13; Charleston 20, 38, 31, 19, 15, 22, 11, 11;
            St Helena/Fripp x, x, x, x, x, x, 1, 1; Hilton Head 5, 20, 30, 44, 43, 21, 21, 9; Sun City/Okatie 8, 6, 4, 5, 4, 5, 6, 2;
            McClellanville 10, 22, 16, 6, nc, 14, 9, 8; Winyah Bay x, x, 10, 30, 13, 8, 6, 5; Litchfield/Pawley's 12, 38, 47, 12, 0, 24, 16, 22.
   SCBBA: All counties
   P&G: Resident, fairly common winter, uncommon in summer, common spring migrant, very common fall migrant. Maximum 285 banded, Mt. Pleasant, 8 October 1987. Egg dates: 11 May - 30 June.
   Avendex: 4 reports. July, September - October. Maximum: 721, Savannah spoil area, October 13, 2003.
   Potter: Common from mid-April to mid-October in the mountains but it is a true year-round resident along the coast. They are fairly common during summer and uncommon in winter - but abundant during migration.
  ●  On Seabrook, catbirds are regular in the myrtles leading to the beach and along estuaries and the edges of woods (the Nature Trail, etc.). If you listen for their cat-like meow you will be more likely to find them... I suspect they breed on Seabrook.
   We have banded birds during spring migration in New England, Pennsylvania, and Georgia and the Gray Catbird was one of the most abundant birds captured - there are a lot of catbirds around during migration.
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    Banner - Gray Catbird. Clemson.
       
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