Catbirds, Mockingbirds, and Thrashers

Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis
Gray Catbird is a species that can be found year round, but is most abundant in September through April. Doubtless, they are certainly more common in winter now than Howell (1932) noted when he referred to them as “recorded in small numbers” throughout Jacksonville and Florida in general.

In the summer months (June – August), they can be quite difficult to find even in suitable habitat. In 1968, many observers in Jacksonville noted several singing catbirds in May, a notable “first” for the county and harbinger of limited breeding in the coming years (Robertson, 1968). The second breeding record was reported by Peggy Powell on 10 August 1981 (Paul, 1981), and the third record in 1982 (Paul, 1982). Atherton and Atherton (1986) noted them again on the summer nesting report in 1985, and Rex Rowan noted them many years later nesting in Baldwin on 16 July 2000 (Paul & Paul, 2000). On 21 May 2020, I observed one in very suitable breeding habitat at Branan Field Wildlife and Environmental Area.

In winter, you should be able to find them in most of the local birding hotspots where they’d be hard to miss. Areas like Reddie Point Preserve, Pumpkin Hill, Spanish Pond, Kingsley Plantation, and Seaton Creek Preserve would certainly produce them.

Brown Thrasher Toxostoma rufum
Brown Thrashers are also year-round residents, but can be difficult to find in winter (particularly late December through January). Great places to search for them in any month include Blue Cypress Park, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, Pumpkin Hill Preserve State Park, Betz-Tiger Point Preserve, and Sheffield Regional Park. In those difficult winter months the best two places to search would be the end of Pumpkin Hill Road at the entrance to Betz-Tiger Point and along the back area (SW corner) of Blue Cypress Park near the pier parking lot area.

Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglattos
Northern Mockingbirds are extremely abundant throughout the county regardless of habitat. You should be able to find them in virtually any park or neighborhood, but if you somehow don’t see one just visit Huguenot Memorial Park on any day of the year.

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