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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher -- Polioptile melanura

RANGE: Resident from southwestern California and northwestern Baja California south locally to southern Baja California and from northwestern Baja California, southeastern California, southern Nevada, western and central Arizona, southern New Mexico, and western and southern Texas south into Mexico.

STATUS: Common, but may be declining. Listed on the blue list for declining species in 1982.

HABITAT: Found in the lower elevations of the Southwest, where it prefers desert brush and scrub, especially mesquite and creosote bush, and in coastal sagebrush and thorn forests.

NEST: Places its small, deep cup, invariably low (2-4 feet above ground) in buckthorn, laurel, sumac, sagebrush, cactus, or other desert plant.

FOOD: Gleans insects and some spiders from branches and twigs of shrubs. Also eats small amounts of seeds.

REFERENCES: Harrison 1979, Tate and Tate 1982, Terres 1980, Terrill in Farrand 1983c.

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