Black-capped Gnatcatcher

Polioptila nigriceps




Gnatcatchers and Gnatwrens (Polioptillidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Pale blue with red brown flecks

Number of Eggs:

2 - 6

Incubation Days:


Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

In fork of medium shrub or small tree 2 - 4m above ground

Nest Material:

Plant fibers and down, Bound with insect and spider silk


Most do not migrate



Black-capped Gnatcatcher: Very small. Black cap, blue-gray upperparts, black tail, gray white underparts. Long slender black beak. Outer tail feathers mostly white gives underside of tail white appearance when tail closed. Female has pale gray upperparts and lacks black cap.

Range and Habitat

Black-capped Gnatcatcher: This species has a very limited range. It is a resident of western Mexico along the Pacific Coast, but does not occur in Baja California; it is a rare breeder in southeastern Arizona and has recently been documented breeding in extreme southwestern New Mexico. Inhabits riparian woodlands.

Breeding and Nesting

Black-capped Gnatcatcher: Male and female build cup nest 6 to 13 feet above the ground, in medium sized shrub or small tree, often mesquite, juniper, or acacia. Female lays two to six pale blue eggs flecked with red brown. Both sexes incubate and tend young.

Foraging and Feeding

Black-capped Gnatcatcher: Gleans insects from foliage and branches. Occasionally will hover. Diet sometimes includes spiders and seeds.


Black-capped Gnatcatcher: Song is a jerky warble. Call rising and falling "mee-ur."

Similar Species

Black-capped Gnatcatcher: Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is distinctly blue toned, with obvious white eye ring and pale bill. Breeding male lacks black cap. Black-tailed Gnatcatcher has much more black on underside of tail, almost completely black with white spots near edge, shorter bill, and more distinct eye ring. California Gnatcatcher is darker and more dusky overall with more brown tones throughout, tail almost completely black on underside with very little white edging. All species have different vocalizations.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The area on top of the head of the bird.
Outer tail feathersX
The tail feathers farthest from the center.
Relating to or living or located on the bank of a natural watercourse (as a river) or sometimes of a lake or a tidewater. 
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X