Common Name

Scientific Name


The black-tailed gnatcatcher, Polioptila melanura, is a nonmigratory bird that occurs in the southwestern United States, as well as in northern Mexico. It is rare in Utah, occurring only in the extreme southwestern corner of the state; breeding of the black-tailed gnatcatcher in Utah has been confirmed only once. The preferred habitats of the species are brushy desert situations, including dry washes and ravines. Its diet consists mainly of insects, but it also eats spiders and occasionally some seeds.

The nest of the black-tailed gnatcatcher is constructed in a shrub or low tree, one to four feet above the ground. The eggs, usually four but sometimes three or five, are incubated by both parents for fourteen days. The young, tended by both parents, leave the nest after another nine to fifteen days but are fed by the parents for an additional three weeks.


  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American birds. 2nd ed. Academic, San Diego. 347 pp.

  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birderís handbook[:] a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • Behle, W. H., E. D. Sorensen, and C. M. White. 1985. Utah birds: a revised checklist. Utah Museum of Natural History, University of Utah, Salt Lake City. vi + 108 pp.