Lord’s Avian Wonders – Gnatcatcher Preening

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher preening at Circle B by Lee

Blue-grey Gnatcatcher preening at Circle B by Lee

“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. (Luke 12:35 NASB)

A visit to Circle B Bar Reserve last week provide a great opportunity to watch a Blue-grey Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) preening. Normally, they are flitting from here to there and never stay put long enough to catch a photo, let along some video.

To preen: personal grooming of a bird’s feathers especially by using its beak. Nice article at About Birding – What is Preening.

They are a very small songbird, 10–13 cm (3.9–5.1 in) in length and weighing only 5–7 g (0.18–0.25 oz). Adult males are blue-grey on the upperparts with white underparts, have a slender dark bill, and a long black tail edged in white. Females are less blue. Both sexes have a white eye ring.

The blue-grey gnatcatcher’s breeding habitat includes open deciduous woods and shrublands in southern Ontario, the eastern and southwestern United States, and Mexico. Though gnatcatcher species are common and increasing in number while expanding to the northeast,[4] it is the only one to breed in Eastern North America. They build a cone-like nest on a horizontal tree branch. The incubation period is 13 days for both sexes. Both parents construct the nest and feed the young; they may raise two broods in a season.

These birds migrate to the southern United States, Mexico, northern Central America – (Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras), Cuba, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Cayman Islands. Yeah! They come to Circle B in the winter!

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher preening at Circle B by Lee

Blue-grey Gnatcatcher preening at Circle B by Lee

They forage actively in trees or shrubs, mainly eating insects, insect eggs and spiders. They may hover over foliage (gleaning), or fly to catch insects in flight (hawking). The tail is often held upright while defending territory or searching for food.

The songs (and calls) are often heard on breeding grounds, (usually away from nest) and occasionally heard other times of the year. Calls: “zkreee, zkreee, zkreee”, Songs: “szpree zpree spreeeeey spree spre sprzrreeeee”

Your adornment must not be merely external–braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. (1 Peter 3:3-4 NASB)

Birdwatching Trips 

Circle B Bar Reserve, FL

Wordless Birds – with Hummingbirds


4 thoughts on “Lord’s Avian Wonders – Gnatcatcher Preening

  1. A neat article. I loved the video. Wish it had been longer. The name of the bird reminds me of something I heard a minister form Georgia say recently. She was making a point and mentioned gnats. Then she asked the congregation if they knew what gnats were, because she didn’t know if they had them where they were from. But she said everyone in Georgia knew what gnats were, and in fact, you could usually tell when someone was from GA because they were always making a snorting sound because of being in such a habit of constantly blowing gnats out of their noses.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very interesting about the gnats. I would have taken a longer video, but after the photos and the video, he finally realized that he was not preening in private and flew off. :)


      • I guess even birds are entitled to a little privacy. I noticed Saturday that I seem to have another family of mockingbirds in my big blue spruce in my front yard. I had cardinals last winter, but I haven’t seen them this year. The mockingbirds came two other years, and I’ve hoped they and the cardinals would make the tree their home every year. We used to have a lot of cats around here, but there aren’t too many now, so all birds are safer.

        Liked by 1 person

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