Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - Polioptila caerulea
Blue-gray gnatcatchers are tiny birds that in years past I have spotted occasionally, but this summer there seems to be a couple that have set up shop in a park near my house. The park follows the Northshore Canal. There are lots of trees, and shrubby, wet habitat of the sort preferred by this species. I always hear them before seeing them. They have a thin, nasal, buzzing call. Gnatcatchers are the subfamily Polioptilinae of the Syliviidae family. The other half of the Sylviid family are Sylviinae or Old World warblers. There are four species of North American gnatcatchers, with the Blue-gray being the most widespread. They mainly eat small insects, gleaning them from the tips of tree branches. They form monogamous pairs, with the males vigorously defending their foraging area. I'm starting to wonder if I should be looking for a little nest in the river birches, where I keep seeing these little guys.