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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher: Little Bird with a Big Story

These little birds can be hard to spot as they forage busily for small bugs

The slim, 4½-inch Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is found over much of the East and Midwest and in parts of the West, too. It actively searches trees and bushes for small bugs to eat, often hovering briefly and flaring a long black-and-white tail.

This show is made possible by Jim and Birte Falconer of Seattle, Idie Ulsh, and the Horizons Foundation.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher: Little Bird with a Big Story

Written by Bob Sundstrom
 
This is BirdNote.

[Blue-gray Gnatcatcher calls]

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are little birds that can be hard to spot as they forage busily amid dense leaves overhead. But they are definitely worth a closer look.

[Blue-gray Gnatcatcher calls]

The slim, 4½-inch Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is found over much of the East and Midwest and in parts of the West. It actively searches trees and bushes for small bugs to eat, often hovering and flaring a long black and white tail.

[Blue-gray Gnatcatcher calls]

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers feast on many kinds of insects besides gnats - treehoppers, leafhoppers, aphids, spittlebugs, and weevils, not to mention spiders and caterpillars.

The biggest surprise about this tiny bird is its ability to mimic other birds’ voices. In the course of a male’s long, squeaky song, he may sing samples of jays, tanagers, nuthatches, warblers, and many other birds he has heard.

[Blue-gray Gnatcatcher song]

The song’s variety likely helps attract a mate.

[Blue-gray Gnatcatcher song]

Hidden in the dense leaves, the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher might be easy to overlook. But it has its own amazing story to tell.

For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.

This show is made possible by Jim and Birte Falconer of Seattle, Idie Ulsh, and the Horizons Foundation.

###
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by B Sullivan and W Hershberger.
BirdNote’s theme composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler; Managing Producer: Jason Saul; Editor: Ashley Ahearn; Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone; Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill.
© 2019 Tune In to Nature.org   March 2019   Narrator: Mary McCann
 
ID#   BGGN-01-2019-03-25   BGGN-01



REFERENCES
On mimicry: see BNA account -- subscription only
See also p. 78 in https://www.carolinabirdclub.org/chat/issues/1985/v49n3bggn.pdf
Also:
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Blue-gray_Gnatcatcher/sounds#

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