Friday, June 17, 2011

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher: Late April Migration to Northern Illinois

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Phoenix AZ; 12/31/2009
Another late April arrival to northern Illinois is the Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher. The first time I ever saw a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher (Above) was while I was hiking in the South Mountain Regional Park near Phoenix, Arizona, two winters ago. Little did I know, that when I would become a more serious birder that I would hear see many of these little guys (only 4 1/2" long) in the future.
A Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher building a nest, Rock Cut State Park, IL; 5/8/2011.
Blue Gray Gnatcatchers are quite common in forests and thickets throughout the U.S. from coast to coast. However, northern Illinois is at its most northern range in the Midwest for the summer - but they do migrate into the northeast states as far as Maine. In winter they will travel as far south as Mexico, Central America, and along the Gulf Coast States. As their name suggests, they have a bluish/grayish look about them, bluer on the crown and nape; grayer on the back and wings. They are lighter underneath and males will have a black forehead, eyebrow and tail (Above).

A BIF of a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher always on the move, Rock Cut State park, IL; 5/8/2011.

A nice look at a Blue Gray Gnatcatcher's White eye-ring and black eyebrow and forehead, Rock Cut State park, IL; 5/8/2011.
Although many birdbooks state that these gnatcatchers will spend time in thickets, I most often hear them from flitting from branch to branch high in the tree tops. They are so tiny that I often don't see them until after I've heard their thin weak nasal and buzzing notes. And they don't stay still very long - always moving. I was lucky to see the one (Above) fairly low while it was busy working on a nest.

1 comment:

Chesney said...

I think I just might have to borrow him...we have tons of gnats in my neck of the woods...I love the wing span image are really good at capturing these feathered beauties!