Nesting Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers / by Todd Henson

Female Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher sitting in her nest, beautifully lit by early morning sunlight

There are times when the trees in some parks are filled with the sights and sounds of Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers. These are small birds with a blue-gray head and back and a white underside. Their call has a lot of volume for a bird so small, and it matches their bravado, as they don’t seem at all afraid of people.

Male Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher sitting on a limb above the nest

Male Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher singing while sitting in the nest. It is actually working on building the inside of the nest.

The photos in this post were created over a two day period when I was fortunate enough to watch a pair of gnatcatchers building a nest on a tree limb very close to the trail. The nest was perfectly situated to be lit by the early morning sun when it wasn’t hiding behind a cloud. This combination of great location and nice lighting enabled me to create some decent images of these fantastic little birds.

Male Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher singing

I found it an absolute joy watching this pair. They would fly away, looking for small pieces of lichen, bark, grass, or spiderwebs, then return to add their find to the nest. They use the spiderwebs to hold everything together. Click on the images for full-screen views, where you can see the lichen and spiderwebs woven through the nest.

Female Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher sitting on a branch

Take another close look at the photos to compare the male and female. You can tell them apart because the male has a black eyebrow, whereas the female does not.

Male Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher sitting on a branch

Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers are one of the many species I look forward to each Spring. What species do you look forward to?