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Black-capped Gnatcatcher

Polioptila nigriceps

Length: 4.5 inches Wingspan: 6 inches Seasonality: Non-resident in South Dakota
ID Keys: Gray upperparts, lighter underparts, relatively long black bill, black cap (males)

Black-capped Gnatcatcher - Polioptila nigricepsThe Black-capped Gnatcatcher is a species with a relatively small range in western Mexico.  In the United States, it is a rare, but increasingly seen vagrant, primarily in southeastern Arizona but also in northwestern New Mexico.  It has now been documented as occasionally breeding in both states, with the first documentation of nesting occurring near Patagonia in Arizona in 1971. There are now a few select locations in southeastern Arizona where breeding pairs have become established and are relatively reliable in lcoating.

Habitat: Found mostly in riparian woodlands in its native Mexico.

Diet: Feeds heavily on insects and spiders.  They will also occasionally feed on seeds.

Behavior: Foraging is often done by gleaning insects from foliage, often while hovering.  They will also observe from a perch and fly out and capture insects in mid-air.

Nesting: The nest of a Black-capped Gnatcatcher is a cup built in a small tree or shrub. The female usually lays 3 or 4 eggs (between 2 and 6 reported), and both parents help to incubate them.  Once the eggs hatch, both parents help to raise the young.

Song: The call is a rising then descending, very weak mee-ur.  The song is a quiet series of tinkly warbles.

Migration: Considered a permanent resident throughout its normal range.

Interactive eBird map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Black-capped Gnatcatcher sightings

Similar Species: California Gnatcatcher, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

Conservation Status: Populations are in a noted decline.  However, they are still relatively common in many areas and are found over a large geographic area. The IUCN lists the Black-capped Gnatcatcher as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) Birdlife International - Black-capped Gnatcatcher

2) WhatBird - Black-capped Gnatcatcher

3) Audubon Guide - Black-capped Gnatcatcher

Photo Information: Photo taken by Tom Benson - Pima County, Arizona - Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License


Click below for a higher-resolution map
Black-capped Gnatcatcher - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Non-resident in South Dakota

Additional Black-capped Gnatcatcher Photos (coming soon!!)