In my opinion, we need to thank the Good Lord He didn’t make Blue-gray Gnatcatchers the size of Red-tailed Hawks. If He would have, it wouldn’t be safe to go into the woods. I’m pretty sure if you look up the word, “pugnacious” in the dictionary, this bird’s photo will be part of the definition. Many a slow-birding day has been rescued by the antics of this pint-sized passerine. They literally seem to have no fear.
Unlike many birds, the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher can be found in a variety of habitats. In that respect, they are truly generalists. One thing for sure is they almost never stay still. Think of Riki-Tiki-Tavi from The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. They are the hyper-active mongoose of the bird world flitting frantically in any direction. Even when they are momentarily still, that tail is sure active almost like a house cat.
This favorite species of mine winters in the Caribbean and Central America. Unlike other song birds and, given their habitat adaptability, habitat destruction has not affected them as seriously as most other migrants. The primary threat to this gnatcatcher is Brown-headed Cowbird parasitic nesting. I wrote a few sentences about that behavior in my discussion on the Hooded Warbler Singing photograph.
The reason I like this photograph so much is the personality of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher shines through it. You can almost hear it’s high-pitch scolding tone giving you “down-the-road” for just existing. Luckily for me, in one of its frantic flitting bout, this bird landed adjacent to these pink flowers which were the perfect compliment its breeding plumage. This photograph is of a female. Actually, a better looking image of mail in high plumage is here.