Tropical Gnatcatcher (Polioptila plumbea)

Tropical Gnatcatcher

[order] Passeriformes | [family] Polioptilidae | [latin] Polioptila plumbea | [UK] Tropical Gnatcatcher | [FR] Gobemoucheron tropical | [DE] Schwarzkappen-Muckenfanger | [ES] Perlita tropical | [IT] Pigliamoschini tropicale | [NL] Amazone-muggenvanger


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Polioptila plumbea LA s Mexico to Peru and ne Brazil
Polioptila plumbea anteocularis
Polioptila plumbea atricapilla
Polioptila plumbea bilineata
Polioptila plumbea brodkorbi
Polioptila plumbea cinericia
Polioptila plumbea daguae
Polioptila plumbea innotata
Polioptila plumbea maior
Polioptila plumbea parvirostris
Polioptila plumbea plumbea
Polioptila plumbea plumbiceps
Polioptila plumbea superciliaris

Physical charateristics

The adult Tropical Gnatcatcher is 10-12.7 cm long, weighs 6.5 g and has long thin bill. The male has a black crown, neck sides and stripe behind the eye. The upperparts are blue-grey, the wings are blackish with white edging on the tertials, and the long, thin black tail has narrow white tips and edges. The face and belly are white, and the rest of the underparts are pale grey. The female is 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.

Listen to the sound of Tropical Gnatcatcher

[audio: Gnatcatcher.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 11 cm size max.: 12 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 13 days
fledging min.: 12 days fledging max.: 14 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 4  


It is a resident breeding species from southern Mexico to western Peru and the Amazon basin of Brazil.


This gnatcatcher breeds in lowlands and foothills from sea level to about 1500m altitude and is found in the canopy of dry forests and tall second growth. It readily visits lower levels and semi-open habitats such as woodland edge and clearings, but avoids dense undergrowth. It lives alone or in pairs in capoeiras, along forest edges, in clearings with few trees, caatingas and mangroves


Both sexes involved in construction of nest, a deep cup, walls composed of moss and tree bark bound by cobwebs, lined with vegetation and leaf fibres, lichens affixed to outer wall, externally c. 5?6 cm across and c. 6?7 cm in height, inner cup c. 3?4 cm in diameter and 3?4 cm deep; placed at heights above ground varying from 1 m to 38 m, supported by twigs or branches, often conspicuous. Clutch 2?4 eggs, pale bluish with brown speckles, laid one per day, usually in morning; incubation by both sexes, female sitting at night, eggs occasionally left uncovered for short periods (c. 2?21 minutes) during morning hours, incubation period 13 days; both sexes also brood and feed chicks, which leave nest at 12?14 days; both sexes occasionally perform apparent distraction display when disturbed, flying slowly away while rapidly vibrating wings to entice predators away from nest. The female spends nights on the nest and the male performs the majority of the incubation duties during daylight hours.

Feeding habits

The Tropical Gnatcatcher gleans spiders and their eggs, beetles, caterpillars and other insects from outer twigs and foliage. It often joins mixed-species feeding flocks with tanagers, warblers and honeycreepers, and is unafraid of humans.


This species has a large range, with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 6,800,000 km

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