Gray Catbird
(Dumetella carolinensis)


Picture of bird
© Dan Busby
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Gray Catbird inhabits dense, shrubby habitat across much of southern Canada. Results from the Breeding Bird Survey indicate the population has shown little overall change in Canada since 1970. However, at the regional level, populations increased west of the Rockies and decreased in parts of the northeast (within the Atlantic Northern Forest and Boreal Hardwood Transition Bird Conservation Regions). Habitat loss and degradation on both the wintering and breeding grounds are some of the likely causes for these regional declines (Smith et al. 2011). This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLittle ChangeHighAt an Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada1,000,000 - 5,000,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between mid-May and late May and ends in late July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.

Conservation and management

Gray Catbird populations have benefited from clearing and channeling of forested areas for power lines and roads, and planting of shrubs in suburban areas (Smith et al. 2011). However, elimination of hedgerows and windbreaks in agricultural areas on their breeding grounds, as well as shrub loss due to urbanization on their coastal wintering grounds, are contributing to the loss and degradation of habitat (Smith et al. 2011). Gray Catbirds also collide with both vehicles and towers, sometimes in large numbers during migration. Because they fly low to the ground, Gray Catbirds are particularly susceptible to vehicle collisions (Smith et al. 2011; see also Bishop and Brogan 2013).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Atlantic Northern ForestsAtlantic Northern Forests, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NS -- Other
Boreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Hardwood Transition, sub-region and priority type: Ontario and Manitoba -- Conservation