Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Polioptila caerulea Order: Passeriformes Family: Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
Polioptila caerulea Order: Passeriformes Family: Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)

This handsome sprite is surprisingly feisty—Laura has watched birds dive-bombing Mississippi Kites persistently in the Wichita Mountains. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers 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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