|Conservation status||Has expanded its breeding range through much of the northeast during the 20th century, and expansion may be continuing. Current population probably stable or increasing.|
|Habitat||Open woods, oaks, pines, thickets. Breeding habitat varies with region. In east, mostly in deciduous forest dominated by oak, ash, or maple, or in southern pine woods with understory of oak. In west, often in more scrubby habitat, including pinyon-juniper woods, chaparral, streamside trees, oak forest. Winters in wooded or brushy areas, often near water.|
Forages actively in trees and shrubs. Searches for insects among leafy outer twigs of deciduous trees and on branches and trunk in pines. Takes most food while perched, also hovers to pick items from surface, and often flies out to catch insects that it flushes from foliage. Large insects are beaten against a branch before being eaten.
4-5, sometimes 3-6. Bluish white, dotted with reddish brown. Incubation is by both parents, 11-15 days, usually 13. Young: Female broods young much of time at first, while male brings food; later, both feed nestlings. Young leave nest about 10-15 days after hatching. 1-2 broods per year.
Female broods young much of time at first, while male brings food; later, both feed nestlings. Young leave nest about 10-15 days after hatching. 1-2 broods per year.
Mostly insects. Feeds on a wide variety of small insects, including leafhoppers, treehoppers, plant bugs, leaf beetles, caterpillars, flies, small wasps, and many others. Also eats many spiders.
Male arrives first in breeding areas and sings to defend territory and attract a mate. Courtship involves male leading female around to potential nest sites. Nest site is in tree, more often deciduous. Nest saddled on top of horizontal limb of tree, less often in fork of horizontal limb; height above ground is quite variable, 2-80' up, but 20-40' may be typical. Nest (built by both sexes) is a compact open cup of grass, weeds, plant fibers, strips of bark, lined with plant down, animal hair, feathers. Outside of nest coated with spiderwebs and decorated with pieces of lichen, making nest well camouflaged.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Probably all in North America are migratory, with different individuals present in summer and winter. Some in Mexico and Bahamas may be permanent residents. Peak migration periods in many areas are April and September. May migrate by day.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsSong is a thin, musical warble. Call note a distinctive, whining pzzzz, with a nasal quality.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.