While out on a bird hike recently with a group of homeschool students, we discovered something very cool: a blue-gray gnatcatcher and its nest! Blue-gray gnatcatchers make a very unique nest with lichens from trees and use spider webs to put it all together. The nests have wonderful camouflage and can often be difficult to spot. They will appear to look like a knot in the tree branch. A pair of gnatcatchers can build up to seven nests each season, reusing materials for each one.
Blue-gray gnatcatchers prefer to breed in moist areas within deciduous forests, usually near edges. They are very chatty little songbirds and make a high buzzy pitch noise like “zeeezeee.” You can spot them with their tail pointed straight up in the air. They are always busy and they flutter around catching bugs. They will even steal bugs caught in spider webs! Due to the bird’s name, you may think gnats are a large portion of its diet, but it’s not. They actually eat a wide variety of insects, including spiders.
Not surprisingly, the blue-gray gnatcatcher’s color pattern consists of a pale blue-gray on top and soft gray-white underneath with a dark tail with white edges and a white eye ring. This gnatcatcher is the only true migrant of its kind. It is the northernmost of its species, while most other gnatcatchers stay in central and south America.
Jenn Wallace, Naturalist, Woodland Mound