Plate 26: Blue-gray gnatcatcher

Polioptila caerulea

Nests & Eggs: Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

Tiny bird found in treetops where it makes itself known by its sweet song.

This tiny bird, smaller than a chickadee, never seems to have a quiet moment. On first sight, one is reminded of a Mockingbird, but not from his color, for he is blue-gray above and whitish below. It might be the long tail with the black center and white sides or perhaps it is the trim build. There is a narrow, white eye ring, and the male shows a dark line above the bill. These marks are sometimes difficult to see due to the bird’s restlessness. The tail seems to be constantly in motion. Both birds utter call notes, a thin “spee” or “zpee” sound. His song itself is faint and seldom heard.

These birds range from Southern Canada to Guatemala and are permanent residents in some states bordering the Gulf, but sporadic in their northern range.

The Gnatcatcher is an early migrant and can be found well into his nesting range by the middle of April. Nests sometimes are constructed in advance of egg-laying dates. Perhaps the bird is taking advantage of a supply of building materials which are seasonal. It frequently dismantles the first nest, using the contents in the construction of another nest in a more favorable location. It is built of plant down and other materials, bound with webs and covered with lichens.

Introduction to Our Bird Friends, Vol. II
  • Print out the notebooking pages provided below.
  • Read the blue-gray gnatcatcher story in Bird Biographies out loud.
  • Have a younger student orally narrate what was read. He can then copy a few lines of his narration onto the notebooking pages.
  • Older students can read the text, Plate XXVI: Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and provide a written narration.
  • Sketch the bird. This encourages attention to detail, which will aid in identifying the bird later on. Another option is to use the printables provided below.
  • Sketch the nest of the bird, along with the eggs. Note where the nest is usually found.
  • Older students can include the taxonomy.
  • Learn more about the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at Cornell.
  • On one notebooking page note the facts:
    • Description.
    • Habitat.
    • Range.
    • Food.
    • Nest.
    • Eggs.
    • Call.
Additional Resources

30 Narration Ideas
At some point you might appreciate some variety.

The Bird Study sections of our free nature study series: Our Wonderful World:

Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World
Printables & Notebooking Pages

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Notebooking Pages
Free simple notebooking set.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Bird picture for notebook.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Range Map
For notebook from Cornell.

Bird Facts Notebooking Page
One option in a more graphic organizer style that is especially nice for noting the facts and range.

Enjoy the entire series:

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