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). 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. 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, 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.
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. [Wikipedia]
A tiny, long-tailed bird of broadleaf forests and scrublands, the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher makes itself known by its soft but insistent calls and its constant motion. It hops and slides in dense outer foliage, foraging for insects and spiders. As it moves, this steely blue-gray bird conspicuously flicks its white-edged tail from side to side, scaring up insects and chasing after them. Pairs use spider web and lichens to build small, neat nests, which sit on top of branches and look like tree knots. [All About Birds]
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Facts [All About Birds]
- In spite of their name, gnats do not form a significant part of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher’s diet.
- Fiercely territorial Blue-gray Gnatcatchers may use vocal displays and postures to chase a rival as far as 70 feet. Further resistance by an intruder may provoke midair confrontations, with the two birds climbing steeply, breast-to-breast, snapping at each other.
- The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher’s grayish coloring and long tail, as well as the way it mixes snippets of other birds’ repertoires into its own high, nasal songs, have earned it the nickname “Little Mockingbird.”
- The oldest known Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher was a male, and at least 4 years, 2 months old when it was re-caught at a banding station in Pennsylvania and re-released.