Do They Catch Gnats?: Summer 2022

I wasn’t having much luck finding birds on an early morning walk at Ashbridge’s Bay.

The exception was Kingbirds:

Eastern Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird

Then I noticed a small bird moving erratically and briskly through some middle-level tree branches:

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

I like my grandfather, Dr. J. Murray Speirs’, description of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in his Birds of Ontario: Everything about this restless sprite spells excitement, constantly flitting about, fanning and cocking its tail, uttering high-pitched squeals like a high soprano catbird, busily gathering lichens and spider webs to decorate its two-inch cup-shaped nest.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

But do they catch gnats?

Here is the diet description from the Cornell website: All About Birds:

Adult and larval moths can provide up to half of prey taken. The smallest prey are swallowed alive. The wings are torn off larger prey and their bodies beaten on a perch prior to being eaten. Parents generally feed the young these same foods, offering progressively larger whole prey as the chicks mature.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

To answer the “gnat” question:

A gnat is a loose descriptive category for any of many species of tiny flying insects (Wikipedia)

With that definition, they certainly do catch and eat gnats.

Other birds:

Common Grackle
European Starling
Warbling Vireo
Downy Woodpecker (male)
American Goldfinch (male)
Downy Woodpecker (male)
American Goldfinch (male)
American Goldfinch (male)
Mallard
Double-crested Cormorants
Double-crested Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorants

NATURE POETRY

Warm summer sun,
    Shine kindly here,
Warm southern wind,
    Blow softly here.
Green sod above,
    Lie light, lie light.
Good night, dear heart,
    Good night, good night. - Mark Twain

Miles Hearn

1 thought on “Do They Catch Gnats?: Summer 2022

  1. Rosalind Holeton

    Though I haven’t joined one of your walks I do thoroughly enjoy your Nature Walks blog – the fascinating information, the variety, your lively writing style and of course your superb photos. Thank you. I continue to learn a lot.

    I’m a friend of Trudy Rising and old enough to remember your grandfather as my husband also taught in the Zoology dept at U of T.

    Reply

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