Catbirds Anyone?

Gray catbird (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

20 April 2023

Have you seen your first gray catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) of 2023 yet? I haven’t.

Last week the temperature was so hot for so long in Pittsburgh — up to 16ºF above normal — that we put away our winter coats and wore summer clothes five days in a row. Norway maples burst into full leaf. Oak flowers bloomed. Insects flew around. The ticks came out. (Be careful!) And yet Spring’s migrating birds, the birds we expect under these conditions, did not show up. For instance, where are the catbirds?

As of this writing (6:00am on 20 April) eBird’s gray catbird sightings for April 2023 show that catbirds surround western PA but they aren’t here. Notice the catbird-free zone in western PA.

screenshot map of gray catbird sightings for 1-20 April 2023 (map from Explore Species on eBird)

Zoom in on Allegheny County and you’ll find a single sighting on 8 April in North Park (not shown on map below) and one on 15 April at Riding Meadow Park. Otherwise there are no catbirds in Allegheny County but they’re in the counties around us: Westmoreland, Beaver and Butler. (That red pin drop in the east is in Westmoreland County.)

screenshot map of gray catbird sightings for 1-20 April 2023 (map from Explore Species on eBird)

For some reason Allegheny County, PA is the last place birds want to visit. We have a few theories about it this year but this is an annual problem. Check out the theories and maps in this 2012 article.

p.s. Watch out! More Fire Weather this afternoon!

(photo from Wikimedia Commons, maps from eBird; click on the captions to see the originals)

4 thoughts on “Catbirds Anyone?

  1. Nope. I haven’t seen any Catbirds at Duck Hollow, or Near the Hays Eagles nest. I have been wondering where they are. Thanks. A local phenomenon I guess.

  2. I’m in Forest Hills and we have some here. I wasn’t sure what they were called but I’m pretty positive now that’s what they are.

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