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Tropical Gnatcatcher - BirdForum Opus

Polioptila plumbea
Photo by Francisco Paludo
Araripe, CE, Brazil, July 2017


10-12.7 cm (4-5 in)

  • Black crown, neck sides and stripe behind the eye
  • Blue-grey upperparts
  • Black wings with white edging on the tertials
  • Long, thin black tail with narrow white tips and edges
  • White face and belly
  • Pale grey underparts

Female: similar to the male, but with a dark grey, rather than black, crown.
Young birds have a brown tinge to the upperparts and face, and whiter underparts.

Western subspecies bilineata
Photo by mmdnje
Guayaquil, Ecuador, December 2005


Central and South America:
Central America: found in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama
South America: Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil


White-lored Gnatcatcher has previously been included within Tropical Gnatcatcher but the split seems to be widely accepted.

The South American Classification Committee (SACC) seems convinced there is more than one species in the current Tropical Gnatcatcher, but not convinced about where the new species limits should be4.


Maranon Gnatcatcher
Photo by WilsonDiaz
Fundo Gotas de Agua, Maranon valley, Peru, May 2013

This species currently has about 12 subspecies[1].

  • P. p. brodkorbi: Lowlands of south-eastern Mexico (southern Veracruz) to eastern Nicaragua
  • P. p. superciliaris: South East Mexico (Quintana Roo and Campeche) to Panama
  • P. p. cinericia: Panama (Coiba and Pearl islands)
  • P. p. bilineata: North Colombia to western Peru (northern Lima)
  • P. p. anteocularis: North Colombia (upper Magdalena Valley)
  • P. p. daguae: Colombia (upper Río Dagua and upper Río Patía)
  • P. p. maior: Tropical eastern Peru (upper Río Marañón) from Piura to La Libertad
  • P. p. plumbiceps: East slope of Andes of northern Colombia to northern Venezuela; Isla Margarita
  • P. p. innotata: Extreme eastern Colombia to southern Venezuela and extreme northern Brazil
  • P. p. plumbea: The Guianas and north-eastern Brazil (Rio Tapajós to northern Maranhão)
  • P. p. parvirostris: Tropical eastern Peru (upper Amazon, Río Huallaga and Río Marañón)
  • P. p. atricapilla: North East Brazil (Maranhão to Piauí, Ceará, Pernambuco and Bahia)


Lowlands and foothills from sea level to about 1500 m. They occupy a wide of habitats from canopy of forests, forest edges, overgrown pastures and plantations etc.



Their main diet consists of small arthropods and spiders.


The nest is a small cup made from vegetable fibres. The clutch consists of 2-3 white eggs with brown spots.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Avibase
  3. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved Sept 2017)
  4. SACC as viewed on 2007-11-18: http://www.museum.lsu.edu/~Remsen/SACCBaseline09.html
  5. The Beauty of Birds

Recommended Citation

External Links