California Gnatcatcher

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image: CACoastalGnatcatcher.jpg

Common Name: California Coastal Gnatcatcher

Scientific Name: Polioptila californica

Size: 4.5 inches (11cm)

Habitat: North America; found only in Southern California from Ventura to Baja. Prefers wetlands and grassy areas.

Status: Threatened. Global Population: unknown. The California Coastal Gnatcatcher is endangered because of urban sprawl and habitat fragmentation. The remaining birds live on coastal golf courses and housing tracts that haven't been developed yet. Although the population of this bird is less than many on the “Endangered” list and the threat of extinction is very real, it has failed to make the list because of intense and heated debate from real estate developers and government officials.

Diet: Insects and spiders.

Breeding: Monogamous pairs tend to stay in the same locale. Both parents build nest, incubate, and care for young. Nest site established by male who also initiates nest building. The cone-shaped nests are built in shrubs and first-brood eggs (2-5) are laid in late March. With a roughly 120 day breeding season, they may be able to have as many as three broods per season. A high rate of nest predation is compensated by up to ten re-nesting attempts over the long breeding season.

Cool Facts: It was in 1988, that the California Gnatcatcher was found to be a different species than the Black-tailed Gnatcatcher. The California Gnatcatcher lives in lowland costal sage shrubs from Baja California to Ventura County on the coast of California. It lives primarily on insects and spiders found on twigs and foliage.

The Audubon Society labeled it a species of “special concern” in 1982 when it was still believed it was a subspecies of the Back-tailed Gnatcatcher. The northern California subspecies of the California Gnatcatcher was designated “Endangered” in 1991.

Found in Songbird ReMix Threatened Endangered Extinct 1

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