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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

From Opus

Polioptila caerulea


[edit] Identification

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.

[edit] Similar Species

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

Looks like a miniature Mockingbird.

[edit] Distribution

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.

[edit] Taxonomy

[edit] Subspecies

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

  • P. c. caerulea (Eastern):

Western Group

JuvenilePhoto by KC FogginMyrtle Beach, South Carolina, July 2008
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)

[edit] Habitat

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

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

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Breeding

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.

[edit] Vocalisation

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

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9., with updates to August 2014. Downloaded from

[edit] Recommended Citation

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