Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - Comparison of Breeding and Nonbreeding Plumage

     The first photo was taken in Jan. 2010 at St. Marks NWR in Florida. It is this plumage that I usually see in the southeastern states.

     The second photo was taken in May 2017 in Michigan. This was the first time I had seen the Blue-gray in breeding plummage. I was surprised by the dramatic difference produced by the black band on the sides of the crown with the dark stripe extending from the bill to back behind the eye.

While researching the changes in plumage of the Blue-gray Gnatcher on the web I discovered the web-based Life Histories of Familiar North American Birds by Arthur Cleveland Bent and plan to make much use of this valuable resource.

An excerpt from Bent's description of the behavior of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - "The gnatcatcher is a little bird of intense activity; active, not with the methodical continuity of the brown creeper, but with an irrepressible vivacity of its own in all phases of its life cycle--feeding, nesting, care of its young--at all times, in fact, except during the enforced inertia of incubation."

David Sparks

I retired in 2005 after 40 years of research and teaching at the University of Alabama in Birmingham (24 years), the University of Pennsylvania (8 years) and the Baylor College of Medicine (8 years). Photography is my retirement hobby.

Nature photography, especially bird photography, combines a number of things that I really enjoy: bird-watching, being outdoors, photography, travel, messing about with computers, and learning new skills and concepts.  I now spend much of my time engaged in these activities.

David Sibley in the preface to The Sibley Guide to Birds wrote "Birds are beautiful, in spectacular as well as subtle ways; their colors, shapes, actions, and sounds are among the most aesthetically pleasing in nature."  My goal is to acquire images that capture the beauty and uniqueness of selected species as well as images that highlight the engaging behaviors the birds exhibit.