Monday, April 29, 2013

The gnatcatcher and the caterpillar...

While I sat in the grass watching a Red-shouldered Hawk's nest, this Blue-gray Gnatcatcher landed on a branch in a tree very close to me. I had been sitting still for a while, so maybe he didn't notice me, or maybe the promise of tasty crawly eats overrode the danger of a human with a camera...

This Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was studying something on a branch above him. I knew whatever it was had to be important because the little bird had come in so close to me. I wondered what it was and imagined a fat and juicy caterpillar inching along unaware of its impending doom...

...sure enough, the male gnatcatcher snatched up the protein-rich larva right in front of me!  The instant I clicked the shutter, he glanced my way, warning me off the tasty treat with a birdy (but steely) stink eye... 

Yum...fresh caterpillar...

...hmmmm...is that another?

...it definitely was, and within seconds, he jumped to the next branch over and nabbed another unsuspecting caterpillar. 


How do you tell a male Blue-gray Gnatcatcher from a female? 
Just look for "eyebrows." During the breeding season when males are in their alternate breeding plumage, you'll see a thick, black line above their eyes:

Male Blue-gray Gnatcatchers in breeding plumage sport dark eyebrows! 

21 comments:

Marie said...

Oh such a sweet little guy! You make a great point about sitting still--we'd all see so much more if we took the time to be still and let the birds come to us. Well done as always, Kelly!

TexWisGirl said...

what a cute little pert thing!

Rick Forrestal said...


Wonderful candid shots.
I think he's posing for you.
Love 'em.

Betsy Adams said...

Hi Kelly, Nice little birdie. Looks a tiny bit like a Tufted Titmouse. I haven't ever seen a Gnatcatcher. Looks like your male had a great meal!!!!!

Great set of photos.
Hugs,
Betsy

Jenny said...

Sometimes, they come to us don't they! Wonderful shots Kelly. I didn't know that about the male Gnatcatcher. Thanks for the info. (-:

Frank said...

Didn't you know they don't like onlookers when thy are eating!!
Super series Kelly.

Julie G. said...

I love these little gnatcatchers! They are busy in our area right now. Terrific photographs! I never knew about the eyebrows on the males. Very cool!

Larry said...

Gorgeous shots of the beautiful Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Kelly! I didn't know about the eyebrows either! Don't you just love it when the birds come to you?

Scott Simmons said...

Nice shots!

Montanagirl said...

He's really cute, and found a delicious meal too!

KaHolly said...

You were certainly in the right place at the right time!! What a superb series of shots!! Great post.

Guy said...

Hi Kelly

You had a great series of photos there and the information on using the marking to distinguish male from female was a great reminder to look closely when you have the chance.

Guy

Janice K said...

Those pictures are outstanding. Loved the post!

Sublime Birdy said...

Really great pictures, the eyebrows make the little bird look very intense! Great fact.

Kerri said...

Great post! I learn so much from a visit to your blog!!

thatoneoldguy said...

They are probably my favorite small bird. They show such personality

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone for the kind words. The woods along the Little Miami River are filled with these squeaky, scolding cuties. They are always my first taste of spring. :-)

Kathie Brown said...

Nice action shots! He can keep the larvae however. Yuk!

Banjo52 said...

Lordie, you know a lot! I saw one of these ?guys? a couple of years ago, went back to the spot for more pics, but s/he was gone.

Banjo52 said...

Lordie, you know a lot! I saw one of these ?guys? a couple of years ago, went back to the spot for more pics, but s/he was gone.

KaHolly said...

Your photos are to die for!