Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Hey guys welcome back. Today’s bird is the tiny blue-gray gnatcatcher. Despite its name, gnats don’t actually make up a large portion of its diet. Nevertheless, this little bird is almost constantly moving as it gleans the foliage for other tiny insects, and small spiders. They’ve been known to use snipets of other birds’ songs which, along with their long tail and gray color, have earned them the nickname “little mockingbird,” though I’ve never personally heard anyone call them that. Blue-gray gnatcatchers are widespread throughout the eastern and southwestern U.S. and are the only species of gnatcatcher found in the U.S. while most other gnatcatchers are limited to Central and South America.

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Blue-gray gnatcatcher, Forest Park, St. Louis, MO

As their name suggests, blue-gray gnatcatchers are, well, a bluish-grey in color. They have a long tail that is usually darker than the rest of their bodies, and has white edges, similar to dark-eyed juncos. I remember working in Central Park and a colleague describing this to me. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what he was talking about! I had only seen a couple of gnatcatchers up to that point, and had never noticed the white edged tail. We eventually figured out that the bird he saw was, in fact, a blue-gray gnatcatcher.

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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Forest Park, St. Louis, MO

Blue-gray gnatcatchers are a good example of a bird that, in NYC, showed up in April, and then wasn’t seen again until September. When I first birded in St. Louis after moving here last July, I was surprised to not only find blue-gray gnatcatchers, but to find juvenile ones, meaning they nest here! Pretty cool how moving to another part of a bird’s range can show you different habits about that bird! I always enjoy seeing these little guys. Next up we have another swallow. See you then!

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