[birding] Blue-gray Gnatcatcher nesting in Benton County

MARCIA CUTLER marciafcutler at comcast.net
Thu Jul 13 23:06:41 PDT 2006

The property owner saw 3 eggs in the nest as of yesterday.  We believe that 
there are 4 eggs in the nest now and, as Joel said earlier, we saw her fly 
into the nest and start incubating.  The bird is definately a female.  What 
I don't know is whether a male Blue-gray Gnatcatcher has also been seen 
there.  The property owners will be away on vacation for a while so there 
may not be any further reports until late next week.  Their feeling is that 
they dont want people coming and disturbing the bird while she's nesting.

Both Elsie and the property owner took some pictures today of the bird on 
the nest.  The property owner may also attempt to get some video/digital cam 
pictures, but I'm not sure when.  These may be posted, but I'm not sure 

Marcia Cutler

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Joel Geier" <jgeier at attglobal.net>
To: "Michael Dossett" <phainopepla at yahoo.com>
Cc: "Corvallis birds" <list at midvalleybirding.org>
Sent: Thursday, July 13, 2006 5:51 PM
Subject: Re: [birding] Blue-gray Gnatcatcher nesting in Benton County

> Hi Michael & All,
> If I got the facts straight over the phone line (Marcia can verify), the 
> bluebirder who reported this nest had seen eggs in the nest, so apparently 
> the bird now apparently incubating is a female (maybe I should throw in 
> another "apparent" just to be safe).
> Which of course does not mean there is a full pair present, unless only 
> males will build a nest in this species -- could that be the case based on 
> what you know about the species?
> Cheers,
> Joel
> Michael Dossett wrote:
>> Joel,
>> Are there any eggs or nestlings present?  The reason I
>> ask is because Blue-gray Gnatcatchers have a rather
>> peculiar nesting biology.  The males will build and
>> attend a nest even in the absence of a female, so the
>> presence of a nest in this species does not mean that
>> the species is confirmed nesting, it just means that
>> there is a lost male.
>> For about 2-3 years in a row, there was a male BG
>> Gnatcatcher that built a nest and was quite active and
>> singing in an area of Bitterbrush in Hardy Canyon in
>> eastern Washington.  This was about 4-5 years or so
>> ago now.  Despite many birders being there over 5 or 6
>> weeks, a second gnatcatcher was never seen, nor were
>> there any eggs or anything in the nest.  I believe
>> this male was first found when he was actually
>> building the nest too.
>> Michael Dossett
>> Corvallis
>> Phainopepla at yahoo.com
>> --- Joel Geier <jgeier at attglobal.net> wrote:
>>>Hello folks,
>>>Elsie Eltzroth and Marcia Cutler today (13 Jul)
>>>confirmed nesting by a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at a private residence south
>>>of Philomath. The nest was in a fork of a nearly bare, lowest branch
>>>of a cherry tree just 3-4 ft. off the ground. A bluebird trail volunteer
>>>found the bird nesting and reported it to Elsie. Apparently the
>>>bird was off the nest much of the day (so presumably still laying) until
>>>today when it began brooding.
>>>Last year's summer find of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
>>>on Coffin Butte by Wren Franko and Michael Dossett was the first county
>>>record. However as the climate warms and as we humans modify habitat
>>>toward the brushy realm in other ways, this species may be extending
>>>its range northward. I'm wondering if an effort to cover brushy habitats
>>>along the base of the Coast Range might turn up more.
>>>It's already been an interesting nesting season with
>>>the transient Northern Mockingbird in Philomath (with several
>>>other mid-valley reports), the territorial Red-throated Vireo at E.E.
>>>Wilson (which also seems to be part of a surge in the region), and now
>>>this bird. What else is out there?
>>>Happy birding,
>>>P.S. As a midwestern transplant I just cannot wrap
>>>my brain around the idea of a grackle being exciting, sorry!
>>>Joel Geier
>>>jgeier at attglobal.net
>>>745-5020 or 745-5821
>>>list mailing list
>>>list at midvalleybirding.org
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