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Number of species: 80

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Gray Catbird - Dumetella carolinensis

Although Gray Catbirds of all ages and sexes look quite similar overall, HY/SY birds can usually be distinguished from older individuals through molt limits, as well as iris colour, mouth lining, and retention of juvenile undertail coverts. Sex is reliably determined only via brood patch / cloacal protuberance during the breeding season.

Quick Tips:

  • Check the undertail coverts - many HY/SY birds retain gray, loosely-textured juvenile feathers, but beware that some of them may have uniformly rusty undertail coverts like AHY/ASY birds
  • Examine the greater coverts - most HY/SY birds have a molt limit with paler/browner outer coverts contrasting with dark gray fresh inner coverts, while AHY/ASY birds have no molt limit
  • In fall, check the iris - on HY birds it is grayish to reddish-brown, while on AHY birds it is maroon; some SY birds may still have a recognizably dull iris by spring, but generally this feature becomes less reliable over the course of winter
  • Check the upper mandible lining - on HY/SY birds it is mostly pale, while on AHY/ASY birds it is mostly black"

Species account prepared by McGill Bird Observatory

Click on any image below to bring up the side-by-side comparison tool.
Age / Sex  Image sets 
Hatch year / Unknown
Crown dark; iris often grayish; molt limit on wing between replaced gray greater coverts and retained brownish outer greater coverts, primary coverts, primaries, and secondaries; undertail coverts may include gray feathers; rectrices relatively narrow, tap
Thumbnail - MG2-2421-71124-Dumetella_carolinensis_AOU_7_52-3118.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2421-71124-Dumetella_carolinensis_AOU_7_52-3116.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2421-71124-Dumetella_carolinensis_AOU_7_52-3117.jpg
Date: Aug 30

Thumbnail - MG2-1891-91615-Dumetella_carolinensis_AOU_7_52-3133.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1891-91615-Dumetella_carolinensis_AOU_7_52-3131.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1891-91615-Dumetella_carolinensis_AOU_7_52-3132.jpg
Date: Jul 26
After hatch year / Unknown
Crown blackish; iris maroon; wing uniformly gray; undertail coverts uniformly rufous; rectrices relatively broad and rounded
Thumbnail - MG2-2231-00851-Dumetella_carolinensis_AOU_7_52-3113.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2231-00851-Dumetella_carolinensis_AOU_7_52-3111.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2231-00851-Dumetella_carolinensis_AOU_7_52-3112.jpg
Date: Sep 25
Second year / Unknown
Crown dark; molt limit on wing between replaced gray greater coverts and retained brownish outer greater coverts, primary coverts, primaries, and secondaries; undertail coverts may include gray feathers; rectrices relatively narrow, tapered, and worn.
Thumbnail - MG2-1891-91457-Dumetella_carolinensis_AOU_7_52-3127.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1891-91457-Dumetella_carolinensis_AOU_7_52-3125.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1891-91457-Dumetella_carolinensis_AOU_7_52-3126.jpg
Date: May 15
After second year / Unknown
Crown blackish; wing uniformly gray; undertail coverts uniformly rufous; rectrices relatively broad and rounded
Thumbnail - MG2-2421-70687-Dumetella_carolinensis_AOU_7_52-3122.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2421-70687-Dumetella_carolinensis_AOU_7_52-3120.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2421-70687-Dumetella_carolinensis_AOU_7_52-3121.jpg
Date: May 25

Additional age / sex class descriptions

The following additional age / sex class descriptions were found for this species:
Age / Sex   Age / Sex class description
Juvenile / Unknown Uniformly gray; minimal dark plumage on the crown; loose and primarily gray undertail coverts
Number of species: 80

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