BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER


Polioptila caerulea


Description:

A small, very active bird always searching for insects along tree branches or throughout bushes. Insect catching often involves hovering around trees or bushes. These birds will flick their long tails upward as they constantly move from branch-to-branch and bush-to-bush. This is the only truly migratory gnatcatcher. The calls and songs of this bird are very high in pitch and often hard to detect.


Appearance:

Blue-gray upperparts. White underparts. White eye ring. Thin bill. Long, blacktail with white outer tail feathers. Underside of tail appears mostly white when viewed from below. Male has black supercilium during breeding season (Summer). Sexes similiar. Tiny bird. 4 to 5 inches in length.


Habitat:

Chaparral, open woodlands, thickets, pinyon-juniper, and live oaks.


Nesting:

4-5 pale blue eggs with brown spots and a 13 day incubation period. Fledging occurs 10-12 days after hatching. The nest is an open cup made from plant material, spider web, and flakes of lichen. The nest is attached to a horizontal branch at any height above the ground. Males help out with nest construction, incubation and feeding of young.


Observed Locations:

  • Lake Murray, La Mesa
  • Bird and Butterfly Garden, Tijuana River Valley





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Copyright © Scott Streit, 2000.