Blue-gray gnatcatcher

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Blue-gray gnatcatcher
Male Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Polioptilidae
Genus: Polioptila
Species: P. caerulea
Binomial name
Polioptila caerulea
(Linnaeus, 1766)
Polioptila caerulea map.svg
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher gleaning a spider. Sacramento, Califorina

The blue-gray gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) is a very small songbird, 10–13 cm (3.9–5.1 in) in length and weighing only 5–7 g (0.18–0.25 oz).[2][3] Adult males are blue-gray on the upperparts with white underparts, have a slender dark bill, and a long black tail edged in white. Females are less blue, while juveniles are greenish-gray. Both sexes have a white eye ring.

The blue-gray gnatcatcher's breeding habitat includes open deciduous woods and shrublands in southern Ontario, the eastern and southwestern United States, and Mexico. Though gnatcatcher species are common and increasing in number while expanding to the northeast,[4] it is the only one to breed in Eastern North America. They build a cone-like nest on a horizontal tree branch. The incubation period is 13 days for both sexes. Both parents construct the nest and feed the young; they may raise two broods in a season.

Blue-gray gnatcatcher in Arastradero Preserve in Palo Alto, California

These birds migrate to the southern United States, Mexico, northern Central America-(Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras), Cuba, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Cayman Islands.

They forage actively in trees or shrubs, mainly eating insects, insect eggs and spiders. They may hover over foliage (gleaning), or fly to catch insects in flight (hawking).

The tail is often held upright while defending territory or searching for food.


The songs (and calls) are often heard on breeding grounds, (usually away from nest) and occasionally heard other times of the year. Calls: "zkreee, zkreee, zkreee", Songs: "szpree zpree spreeeeey spree spre sprzrreeeee"

Blue-gray gnatcatcher nest made of lichens, hair, and spiderwebs


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2015). "Polioptila caerulea". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.4. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 
  2. ^ "Blue-gray Gnatcatcher". All About Birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 
  3. ^ "Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea". Archived from the original on 2012-04-28. 
  4. ^ Greenberg, Russell (2001). Birds of North America. Sean Moore. 

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