Spotlight On Ohio Birds

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea)

Family: Polioptilidae

Order: Passeriformes

Description: ADULT MALE BREEDING Has blue-gray upperparts, except for the blackish wings that have contrasting white tertial edges. Tail, from above, is mainly black, but with contrasting and striking white outer feathers; from below, tail is mostly white. Note the white eyering and black on forehead extending to above eye. Underparts are pale gray. ADULT MALE NONBREEDING Similar, but it has a gray, not black, forehead. ADULT FEMALE Similar to nonbreeding male. JUVENILE Similar to adult female, but sometimes has a subtle brownish wash on back.

Voice: Song soft, warbling, complex series of rambling jumbles. Call a thin, nasal “spee.”

Habitat: Widespread and common summer visitor (present mainly Apr-Aug) to deciduous wooded habitats. Present year-round in southeastern U.S. and winters from there to Central America.

Nesting: 3-6 pale blue eggs with small dark spots. Nest is an open cup with high walls, made of spider webbing or caterpillar silk, covered with lichens or bark flakes. Lined with grass stems, bark strips, plant down, hair, feathers, or other fine fibers. Placed far out from trunk on tree limbs.



  • The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is the northernmost-occurring species of gnatcatcher, and the only truly migratory one. Most members of its genus are resident in the Neotropics.
  • The soft, rambling song of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher usually contains some mimicked songs of other bird species.

One response to “Spotlight On Ohio Birds

  1. I like these birds- I’ve always called them ‘complainer birds’ due to their calls being rather insistent and peevish-sounding.

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