Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

Polioptila melanura

Order

PASSERIFORMES

Family

Gnatcatchers and Gnatwrens (Polioptillidae)

Code 4

BTGN

Code 6

POLMEL

ITIS

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ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Black-tailed Gnatcatcher is a small bird found in the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It is non-migratory, and this species lives in pairs all year long. Black-tailed Gnatcatchers forage in desert trees and low shrubs to eat insects and spiders, and use a distinct call during this activity. Unlike the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, this species can rarely catch an insect while in flight. Nests of the Black-tailed Gnatcatcher are built relatively close to the ground by both parents, and cowbirds will often dispose of their own eggs in these nests which are then raised by the Black-tailed Gnatcatchers. The current conservation status of this species is Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher: Medium gnatcatcher with black cap, blue-gray upperparts, black tail, and pale gray underparts. The bill is short and black. Black tail is edged with white; underside of tail appears mostly black with large white spots near tip when closed. Black legs and feet.


Range and Habitat

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher: In California the range extends south, from extreme southern Inyo County through eastern San Bernardino, Riverside, and Imperial counties, to Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, throughout northern and central Mexico. Considered a permanent resident throughout their range. Habitat includes arid scrub-lands, open areas, deserts and arid country.

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SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"cheeh", "ssheh"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • Canopy height appears to be important for foraging; they spend at least 75% of their time in brush less than 9 feet high.
  • The Black-tailed Gnatcatcher is a nonmigratory bird that lives in pairs throughout the entire year. The male and female usually forage within a few yards of each other. This togetherness may give them a heightened need to communicate—they have a surprising variety of call notes.
  • Unlike the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, which it closely resembles, it rarely catches insects in midair. It prefers to forage on thorn trees.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP

CERange Map for Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Ashli Maruster

Artist

Yury Lisyak

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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UnderpartsX
Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.
UpperpartsX
Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
CapX
The area on top of the head of the bird.
CrownX
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
EyebrowX
Also called the supercilicum or superciliary it is the arch of feathers over each eye.
FaceX
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X