Monday, March 27, 2023

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Always Catches My Fancy


Public Domain photo provided by the National Park Service.

I saw and heard my first Blue-gray Gnatcatcher of the season at a local nature preserve, Strawberry Hill. I've heard (and sometimes seen) her for many years during my short hikes with the dogs and, usually, in the same area near the woodland's edge and adjacent to a large pond. 

She's a tiny, slim bird with a long tail, so when I saw the silhouette of just such a bird on a small branch above me, I suspected the Blue-gray, though she was obscured in shadow. Then, when I heard her tell-tale song, "spee, spee, spee," I knew with confidence who had graced my path.
(I tried to catch a photo, but, alas, she would not wait. Trying to locate these active birds is difficult enough let alone photographing one.)

Only last year I somewhere read an apt description of this gnatcatcher as a tiny Mockingbird. At the time, I thought it related specifically to her plumage and tail. Now, I discover that the Blue-gray has two song types--the one I identify her or him by (spee, spee, spee) and another, more complex song, as described on the web site (sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology):

"More complex songs are sung from early morning to midday. These continuous jumbles of sharp chips, high-pitched whistles, and mewing notes are 10 seconds or more long and often include mimicked bits from the repertoires of jays, tanagers, towhees, vireos, warblers, sandpipers, and other species."

I didn't know . . . but now I do!

There's a world of wonderful information to learn about our world of wonderful birds. Here's wishing you  good fortune in birding and seeking!

Till next time . . . 

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