Friday, April 24, 2009

Blue-gray Gnat-catchers active at WPWP on April 23, 2009

Please click on images to ENLARGE and please hit comment button below and identify the Polioptila caerulea on World Peace Wetland Prairie on April 23, 2009. Several were spotted flitting about. Thanks to Joe Neal for identifying the bird.

South Dakota Birds and Birding
Devoted to birds, birding, and photography

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Polioptila caerulea
Length: 4.5 inches Wingspan: 6 inches Seasonality: Summer
ID Keys: Blue-gray upperparts, white underparts, bold white eyering, white outer tail feathers
While still an uncommon sight in most of South Dakota, the range of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher has been steadily expanding throughout the 20th century. Very small birds normally found in woodlands, they can sometimes be difficult to observe as they flit about the tree tops.
Habitat: Varies by region, preferring deciduous forests in the East, pine forests with a deciduous understory in the South, and shrubby habitat in the West.
Diet: Feeds almost exclusively on insects and spiders.
Behavior: Extremely active, foraging actively among trees and shrubs in search of insects. Will take prey while perched, hovering, or by flycatching and catching insects in mid-air.
Nesting: May and June
Breeding Map: Breeding Bird Survey map
Song: Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Song
Migration: Summers throughout much of the United States except for the Pacific Northwest and the northern tier of states. Winters in the extreme southern United States and southward.
Similar Species: Similar to the other Gnatcatchers, but these other species (Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, California Gnatcatcher, Black-capped Gnatcatcher) all have normal ranges well to the south of South Dakota and have never been seen in this state.
Status: They have expanded in numbers and in range in the 20th century, an expansion that probably is still continuing.
South Dakota "Hotspot": Most common in the extreme southeastern part of the state, I've had very good luck finding them at both Newton Hills State Park, and the Big Sioux Recreation Area.
Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Blue-gray Gnatcatcher"
3) Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Photo Information: July 1st, 2006 - Big Sioux Recreation Area near Brandon - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Blue-gray Gnatcatcher photos.

South Dakota Status: Uncommon summer breeder in the extreme southeastern part of the state. Casual breeder and visitor in the Black Hills.

Additional Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Photos

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 3
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 4

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 5 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 6 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 7 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 8

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Please mail all comments/suggestions/gripes/complaints to: Terry L. Sohl
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