Catbird, Mockingbird, Thrashers (Mimidae)

Gray Catbird

Dumetella carolinensis

The Catbird is named for its cat-like meow call, which is given when predators are present and during aggressive encounters between birds. The Catbird's song is a long series of many phrases including imitations of other birds. The Gray Catbird is not as gifted a mimic as the Northern Mockingbird. (Albany County, New York.)
Habitat: Tangles, shrubbery, wood edges. Suburban and rural.

Northern Mockingbird

Mimus polyglottos

The Mockingbird's song is composed of phrases repeated 2-6 or occasionally more times. The song is used by males to establish a breeding territory in the spring and by males and females to establish a feeding territory in the fall. The birds sing from exposed perches, and unmated males may sing at night. A loud and vigorous singer, the mockingbird is an excellent mimic of other bird's songs, and it may include bits of non-avian sounds in its repertoire. The poet Mary Oliver has written that she played songs by Mahler to a Mockingbird and "now a little Mahler spills through the sputter of his song". (Saratoga County, New York)
Habitat: Open areas with dense shrubbery. Suburbs.

Sage Thrasher

Oreoscoptes montanus

Songs are a long series of varied phrases and occasionally include imitations of other species such as Western Meadowlark. Songs vary widely in length from a few seconds to many minutes. This recording contains three short songs and one longer song (77 sec). Western Meadowlark is occasionally prominent in background. The bird appeared to be on its territory and was singing from perches including sagebrush and a large rock. There was a second Sage Thrasher in the area, apparently silent and presumably the female. (Antelope Island State Park, Utah)
Habitat: Breeds mainly in sagebrush steppe.

Brown Thrasher

Toxostoma rufum

Male has an enormous repertoire of songs -- greater than 1500. He usually repeats each song phrase once. That is, he sings a long series of mostly doublet songs that he rarely repeats. Here is a section of an extended bout of singing. (Albany County, New York.)
Habitat: Hedgerows, brush in open areas, edges of woods.