• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - BirdForum Opus

Photo by gophish.
Vischer's Ferry, New York, USA
Polioptila caerulea


4 1/2 -5" (11-13 cm)
Smaller than a sparrow. Tiny, slender, long-tailed bird, blue-gray above and white below, with white eye ring and broad white borders on black tail.

Similar Species

Non-breeding (Eastern)
Photo by bobsofpa
Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida, USA, February 2007

Looks like a miniature Mockingbird.


Breeds from northern California, Colorado, southern Great Lakes region, southern Ontario, and New Hampshire southward to Guatemala. Winters from southern California, Gulf Coast, and Carolinas to Honduras and the Greater Antilles.



This is a polytypic species, consisting of eight subspecies[1]:

  • P. c. caerulea (Eastern):

Western Group

Photo by KC Foggin
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, July 2008
  • P. c. amoenissima:
  • South-western Oregon to northern Baja and northern Mexico; winters to southern Mexico
  • P. c. obscura:
  • P. c. gracilis:
  • Foothills of north-western Mexico (south-eastern Sonora)
  • P. c. nelsoni:
  • Southern Mexico (Guerrero to Oaxaca and southern Chiapas)
  • P. c. deppei:
  • Eastern Mexico (San Luis Potosí to Veracruz, Tabasco and northern Chiapas)
  • P. c. mexicana:
  • South-eastern Mexico (Yucatán Peninsula)
  • P. c. cozumelae:
  • Cozumel Island (off eastern Mexico)


Photo by mali
Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, USA, 2014

Deciduous woodlands, streamside thickets, live oaks, pinyon-juniper, chaparral. Coastal sage scrub and gardens.


Frontal Perspective
Photo © by Robert Steffens
Huntington Beach State Park, South Carolina, USA, 15 April 2021

Hyperactive and hard to capture, gleams insects of shrubs and trees, acts like a wren.


The clutch consists of 4 or 5 brown-spotted pale blue eggs laid in a small, beautifully made cup of plant down and spider webs, decorated with flakes of lichen and fastened to a horizontal branch at almost any height above ground.


Song is a thin, musical warble. Call note a distinctive, whining pzzzz, with a nasal quality.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

Recommended Citation

External Links