Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Polioptila caerulea Order: Passeriformes Family: Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
Polioptila caerulea Order: Passeriformes Family: Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

This handsome sprite is surprisingly feisty—Laura has watched these tiny mites dive-bombing Mississippi Kites persistently in the Wichita Mountains. And the only reason she saw her lifer Mangrove Cuckoo, on the Snake Bight Trail in the Everglades one November day was because Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were attacking it. They seem to prefer nesting near water, especially in the southwest and northern parts of their range. As their name attests, they feed primarily on small insects. They’ve been extending their range northward with the warming climate.

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers use a lot of spider silk building their nests, which must stretch to expand as their nestlings grow. A pair can build up to seven nests in a breeding season, often re-using nest material from previous nests. Predation, parasitism by cowbirds, and mite infestations frequently cause nest failures.

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