Barry Kent MacKayArt by Barry Kent MacKay
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In this section are copies of original works of art. All of them are dedicated to helping us live according to unconditional love and compassion, which is the foundation of our peaceful means of bringing true and lasting peace to all of God's creatures, whether they are human beings or other animals.

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)


Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)
(Artwork - 147)
Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

One of my favourite bird families is known collectively as the Mimidae (or Mimids), and it includes mockingbirds, thrashers and two species of North American catbirds (very different from other songbirds that are called catbirds in other parts of the world). The Gray Catbird, the only member of its genus, breeds across temperate North America, although is absent from much of the north and west. The other species, which is very similar in size and shape, is the Black Catbird (Melanoptila glabrirostris), which is pretty much restricted to the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, and is glossy black all over. Both are, in my view, exceptionally elegant birds. The generic name of the Gray, Dumetalla, derives from the Latin word, dūmus, meaning “thorny thicket”.

The name essentially means “thorn-bush dweller from the Carolinas”. They do love thickets, hedgerows and vegetational entanglements, but will often come out into the open to provide good views and may occur in parks and gardens. They are migratory, withdrawing from the northern part of their range each fall, to occupy a winter range that extends from the central and southern eastern U.S. as far south as the West Indies and southern Central America. A breeding population in Bermuda is considered endangered; otherwise there are virtually no conservation concerns for this widely distributed species.

Their common name refers to their grey colour and their call, which resembles the mewling sound of a house cat. They are grey, with black caps and tails and dark wings, with chestnut-brown undertail coverts, which most artists show more prominently than I have done in this painting. It is a feature often hard to see in the wild. They weigh from about 23 to 47 grams (0.82 to about 2 ounces). Although the diet is about evenly divided between fruit (mostly small berries) and arthropods, they tend to eat and feed their young more insects in the spring and summer breeding season.

Apart from their catlike mewing they have, as do all Mimids, amazing voices that can imitate various sounds, and unlike the Northern Mockingbird, which repeats phrases several times, or the Brown Thrasher – the other Mimid that shares most of the Gray Catbird’s range and normally repeats each phrase once, the catbird tends to introduce one new phrase – a combination of notes – after the other without repetition, somewhat less tuneful and melodic than the song of the mockingbird.

These elegant-looking birds make their nests in thickets, and lay from one to five (usually two or three) dark aqua-blue eggs.

The painting is life-size and is in acrylics on compressed hardboard, 10 X 8 inches.

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Copyright © Barry Kent MacKay
Barry describes himself as a Canadian artist/writer/naturalist.
See his website: http://barrykentmackay.ca/

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