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Adults weigh from 23.2 to 56.5 g (0.8 to 2.0 oz), with an average of 35–40 g (1.2–1.4 oz) They range in length from 20.5 to 24 cm (8.1 to 9.4 in) and span 22 to 30 cm (8.7 to 11.8 in) across the wings. Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 8.4 to 9.8 cm (3.3 to 3.9 in), the tail is 7.2 to 10.3 cm (2.8 to 4.1 in), the culmen is 1.5 to 1.8 cm (0.6 to 0.7 in) and the tarsus is 2.7 to 2.9 cm (1.1 to 1.1 in). Gray catbirds are plain lead gray almost all over. The top of the head is darker. The undertail coverts are rust-colored, and the remiges and rectrices are black, some with white borders. The slim bill, the eyes, and the legs and feet are also blackish. Males and females cannot be distinguished by their looks different behaviours in the breeding season is usually the only clue to the observer. Juveniles are even plainer in coloration, with buffy undertail coverts. The species was first described by Carl Linnaeus in his 1766 edition of Systema naturae. His original name Muscicapa carolinensis reflected the belief, widespread at that time, that the gray catbird was some sort of Old World flycatcher (presumably due to its remarkably plain coloration, not similar to other mimids).
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