Polioptila californica


The California gnatcatcher feeds on insects gleaned from California sagebrush. This bird has been listed as a federally threatened species, dependent upon coastal sage scrub, since 1993 and was the driving force for the development of the Natural Communities Conservation Program (NCCP) in southern California, which preserves large contiguous parcels of land.

You've probably heard this small songbird more than you've seen it, as it tends to move rapidly from shrub to shrub. It has a call that sounds like a mewing kitten.


Gray or slaty gray upperparts. Blue-gray underparts. Th male has a black cap. White eye ring. Wings have a brownish wash. Thin bill. Long black tail with white outer edge. 4 to 4.5 inches in length.


Chaparral, deserts, and coastal sage scrub.


3-4 pale blue eggs with spots. The eggs have a 14 day incubation period. Fledging occurs in 12-13 days. The nest is a small, smooth, open cup built low in a tree or bush.

Observed Locations:

  • Lake Murray, La Mesa

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Copyright © Scott Streit, 2000.