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Black-tailed Gnatcatcher - BirdForum Opus

Photo by bobsofpa
Tucson Mountain Park, Arizona, USA, May 2010
Polioptila melanura


Small (11.5cm, 2.5in)
A typical gnatcatcher with black cap, Otherwise gray overall with dark, rounded tail (white bands underneath).

The male is differentiated from similar species most easily by distribution; the female by tail markings.


North and Central America.

A year-round inhabitant of Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts of Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, notably along the Rio Grande River. Southward into Mexico except the Sierra Madre.


Photo by Marysan
Imperial County, California, USA, January 2007


This is a polytypic species, consisting of five subspecies:

  • P. m. lucida:
  • P. m. melanura:
  • P. m. curtata:
  • Isla Tiburón (Sea of Cortés)

The former subspecies pontilis and margaritae are now included in California Gnatcatcher.


Desert scrub, brush, mesquite.


Very active


Gleans insects from branches of brush and trees.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2013. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.8., with updates to August 2013. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. BF Member observations

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