Black-capped Gnatcatcher (Polioptila nigriceps), Sonoita Creek State Natural Area, Santa Cruz County
This Black-capped Gnatcatcher was photographed by Alan Schmierer on 28 March 2011.
Black-capped Gnatcatchers have been present at this location off and on for a
few years but went unreported here for several months. This most recent
bird was apparently discovered by Mark Stevenson and Molly Pollock on 30 January
Black-capped Gnatcatcher has been an extremely rare resident in SE Arizona.
Historically, influxes of this species from Mexico have occurred sporadically
and have persisted for a few years afterwards, followed by several years with no
records. However, the incursion that began in 2002 appears to be the most
widespread and longest lasting. Black-capped Gnatcatchers increased in numbers
and were found in an increasing number of areas. However, over the last year or
so, reports have declined and numbers seem to have decreased.
This bird is molting into its black cap. That combined with the white
undertail feathers is enough to eliminate the other two North American
gnatcatchers. This bird also shows strongly graduated tail feathers and is
just molting into the black cap enough to see that black feathering extends
below the eye. Both these characters separate this species from the other
gnatcatchers as well.
28 March 2011, photos by Alan SchmiererAll photos are copyrighted© by photographer
Submitted on 12 April 2011