Blue-grey Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea)

Blue-grey Gnatcatcher

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Polioptilidae | [latin] Polioptila caerulea | [UK] Blue-grey Gnatcatcher | [FR] Moucheronnier gris | [DE] Blau-Muckenfanger | [ES] Perlita Grisilla | [NL] Blauwgrijze Muggenvanger


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Polioptila caerulea NA, MA se Canada to Nicaragua
Polioptila caerulea caerulea
Polioptila caerulea caesiogaster
Polioptila caerulea cozumelae
Polioptila caerulea deppei
Polioptila caerulea nelsoni
Polioptila caerulea obscura
Polioptila caerulea perplexa

Physical charateristics

Suggests a miniature Mockingbird. A tiny, slim mite, smaller than a chickadee; blue-gray above, whitish below, with a narrow white eye-ring. The long, black and white tail
is often cocked like a wren’s tail and flipped about.

Listen to the sound of Blue-grey Gnatcatcher

[audio: Gnatcatcher.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 15 cm wingspan max.: 17 cm
size min.: 10 cm size max.: 11 cm
incubation min.: 13 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 10 days fledging max.: 15 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 6  


North America, Middle America : Southeast Canada to Nicaragua


Open woods, oaks, pines, thickets.
Breeding habitat varies with region. In East, mostly in deciduous forest dominated by oak, ash, or maple, or in southern pine woods with understory of oak. In West, often in more scrubby habitat, including pinyon-juniper woods, chaparral, streamside tree
s, oak forest. Winters in wooded or brushy areas, often near water.


Male arrives first in breeding areas and sings to defend territory and attract a mate. Courtship involves male leading female to several potential nest sites.
Nest: Site is in tree, often deciduous. Nest saddled on horizontal limb of tree, sometimes in fork; height above ground quite variable, 2-80′ up, but 20-
40′ may be typical. Nest (built by both sexes) is compact open cup of grass, weeds, plant fibers, strips of
bark, lined with plant down, animal hair, feathers. Outside of nest coated with spider webs and decorated with pieces of lichen, making nest well camouflaged.
Eggs: 4-5, sometimes 3-6. Bluish white, dotted with reddish brown. Incubation is by both parents, 11-15 days, usually 13.
Young: Female broods young much of time at first, while male brings food; later, both bring food for nestlings. Young leave nest about 10-15 days after hatching. 1-2 broods per year.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects. Feeds on a wide variety of small insects, including leafhoppers, treehoppers, plant bugs, leaf beet
les, caterpillars, flies, small wasps, and many others. Also eats many spiders.
Forages actively in trees and shrubs. Searches for insects among leafy outer twigs of deciduous trees and on branches and trunk in pines. Takes most food while perched, also hovers to pick items from surface, and often flies out to catch insects that it
flushes from foliage. Large insects are beaten against a branch before being eaten.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher status Least Concern


Southern Oregon, southern Ontario to Guatemala. Winters to Honduras.

Distribution map

Blue-grey Gnatcatcher distribution range map

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