Tropical Gnatcatchers

The Tropical Gnatcatcher (Polioptila plumbea) can be found in southern Mexico, western Peru and the Amazon basin of Brazil.

This gnatcatcher is commonly found inlowlands and foothills from sea level to about 1500m altitude preferring the canopy of dry forests and tall second growth.

It can also be seen visiting lower levels and semi-open habitats, including woodland edge and clearings, but avoids dense undergrowth.


The adult Tropical Gnatcatcher is 10-12.7 cm long and weighs 6.5 g, and have long thin bills.

The male has a black crown, neck sides and stripe behind the eye. His upperparts are blue-grey, the wings are blackish with white edging on the tertials (= the flight feathers that are closest to the bird’s body along the wing), and the long, thin black tail has narrow white tips and edges. The face and belly are white, and the rest of the underparts are pale grey.

The female is similar to the male, but with a dark grey, rather than black, crown.

Young birds have a brown tinge to the upperparts and face, and whiter underparts.

Nesting / Breeding

These gnatcatchers construct a small cup nest, like that of a hummingbird, using vegetable fibres. Their nests are usually placed 2-8 m high on a tree branch. In May or June, the female lays two or three brown-spotted white eggs.


Their preferred diet includes insects, such as spiders and their eggs, beetles, and caterpillars.

Call / Song

A thin buzzy gezzz call and a trilled swee see see si si si su su

Tropical Gnatcatcher
Tropical Gnatcatcher Female
Tropical Gnatcatcher
Photo of author

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