My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Polioptila caerulea

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Polioptila caerulea

The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is a very small songbird.

This gnatcatcher species measures 10–13 cm (3.9–5.1 in) and weighs only 5–7 g (0.18–0.25 oz). Adult males are blue-grey on the upperparts with white underparts and have a long slender bill, long black tail and an angry black unibrow. Females are less blue without the unibrow. Both sexes have a white eye ring.

Their breeding habitat includes open deciduous woods and shrublands in southern Ontario, the eastern and southwestern United States, and Mexico. Among gnatcatcher species, this is in the only one to breed in Eastern North America.

They build a cup nest similar in construction to a hummingbird nest on a horizontal tree branch. Both parents construct the nest and feed the young; they may raise two broods in a season.

These birds migrate to the southern United States, Mexico, northern Central America-(Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras), Cuba, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Cayman Islands.

They forage actively in trees or shrubs, mainly eating insects, insect eggs and spiders. They may hover over foliage (gleaning), or fly to catch insects in flight (hawking).

The tail is often held upright while defending territory or searching for food.

On to my photos:

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

This is number 101 in my photo life list, only 249 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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9 responses

  1. Wow! What lovely descriptions and photographs! I know from personal experience how challenging it can be to get these little guys! They are so quick, but a joy to observe! I really like your blog, and appreciate the words and thoughts you share with the rest of us! I hope I will be able to travel to Michigan some day and live my own version of your tales!

    June 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    • Thank you very much! It was a challenge getting these shots, but that’s why I love bird photography, the challenge.

      June 5, 2013 at 3:02 am

  2. LOL “Angry black unibrow.” That was cute! 🙂

    June 5, 2013 at 8:09 am

    • Thanks, but I can’t take credit for that, it’s the way that a field guide described them.

      June 5, 2013 at 9:03 am

  3. I love these little guys, with their wheezy, tiny calls. They’re so elegant, and you captured that here.

    June 6, 2013 at 12:16 am

    • Thank you!

      June 6, 2013 at 2:39 am

  4. I was just about to say the same thing as bluebrightly. Don’t you love the look on their faces? Great captures Jerry.

    June 9, 2013 at 9:29 am

    • Thanks, either I’m getting old and slow, or the birds are getting quicker, as I had a hard time keeping up with these.

      June 9, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      • These suckers move constantly fast. You did great getting them.

        June 9, 2013 at 4:19 pm