Catbird imposter - botanical garden?

Daniel Scali

Hey birders,

Gray Catbird activity has been pretty exciting in SF this fall. I regret not chasing at a time when others could help me find the little mimic. I did go for it last Friday morning as it had been heard by multiple folks away from the reservoir. Instead of the catbird, I refound the same probably hybrid Red-naped Sapsucker in the Guatemalan Fir that others have seen in that area. What was really exciting is that it was calling; sapsuckers have a mew call. Bummed about no catbird but pumped for my first ever HEARD Red-naped (even Red-breasted seem hard to catch in the vocal act), I headed for the north exit. I was steps from the gate when I heard that same mew call behind me and then heard the mew fly east. I searched the Ancient Plant boardwalk behind the pond and located a different Red-naped Sapsucker which continued to vocalize (I'm guessing this is the bird that is normally on the other side of the hill from the boardwalk in the fragrance garden).

I believe the catbird has not been seen in approximately two weeks and to me Gray Catbird calls sound pretty close to Red-naped Sapsucker calls. Just yesterday there were more reports of heard Gray Catbird in the exact spot (the Ancient Plants boardwalk) where the sapsucker was calling on Friday. Are we possibly misidentifying these calls? I certainly hope the catbird is still around and that both rarities are gifting us there voices. Happy searching!

Good birding,
Dan Scali, sf

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