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This species was on the 2002 WatchList, but is not on the 2007 WatchList. Please refer to http://web1.audubon.org/science/species/watchlist/techReport.php for information on the 2007 WatchList.
A primarily Mexican species, the range of Black-capped Gnatcatcher just reaches the U.S. in southeastern Arizona. Three other species of gnatcatchers occur in the United States and several others occur in Mexico and through northern South America.
Black-capped Gnatcatcher is a tiny (4 ? in.) blue-gray songbird. The male displays a black cap through the nesting season. The females and non-breeding males look very similar to the other gnatcatchers found in the southwest. They may be identified by the lack of an eye ring and their black tail with extensive white undertail feathers. Because of its small size, and limited distribution, Black-capped Gnatcatchers are usually difficult to see unless a male is singing. Even with that, their voice is so thin, that it is beyond the audible range of many people, especially those with age related hearing loss.
In the United States, it is only found in only southeast Arizona. The population occupying Arizona and environs also extends into western Mexico (Sonora, Chihuahua, south to Colima and Durango). Many, if not all, of the U.S. population probably winter in Mexico.
This species is a very recent addition to the avifauna of the United States. It was discovered nesting in Patagonia, Arizona in 1971. Black-capped Gnatcatcher, like other species whose northern distribution is in the same areas, may experience natural population fluctuations along the periphery of the nesting range.
The Black-capped Gnatcatcher, as with other gnatcatchers in its range, favors arid habitats with scattered bushes. This species? breeding biology and habitat needs are not well understood.
Little is known of the nesting and feeding requirements of the Black-capped Gnatcatcher. Because they are at the northern limits of their range, natural fluctuations of their population numbers will be reflected in their relative abundance in the United States.
Although small in number, the population of Black-capped Gnatcatcher is fairly stable. In Arizona, preservation of arid shrublands in various stages of succession is important. This includes appropriate management of rangeland.
What Can You Do?
Audubon's Important Bird Area program is a vital tool for the conservation of Black-capped Gnatcatcher as well as other species. To learn more about the Important Bird Area programs in states with breeding populations of Black-capped Gnatcatcher, and how you can help, visit: http://www.audubon.org/bird/iba/
Support local land trusts, government agencies, and other organizations working to preserve Black-capped Gnatcatcher habitat in your area. Contact your state Important Bird Areas coordinator (http://www.audubon.org/bird/iba/state_coords.html) to find out if there are sites in your area important for Black-capped Gnatcatcher that need increased protection.
Volunteers are crucial to the success of programs that monitor the long-term status of wintering populations of Black-capped Gnatcatcher and other bird species. Audubon's Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is one of the longest-running citizen-science monitoring programs in the world and has helped to follow changes in the numbers and distribution of Black-capped Gnatcatcher. To learn more about the CBC and how you can participate, visit: http://www.audubon.org/bird/cbc
Information on where Black-capped Gnatcatcher occur and in what numbers is vital to conserving the species. Help in monitoring this and other species by reporting your sightings to eBird. A project of Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, eBird is the world's first comprehensive on-line bird monitoring program: http://www.audubon.org/bird/ebird/index.html
CIPAMEX, Audubon's BirdLife International partner in Mexico, has an Important Bird Areas program that is working to protect habitat for Black-capped Gnatcatcher and many other species. To learn more about Mexico's Important Bird Areas program and how you can help visit: http://18.104.22.168/wwwcampus/cipamex/
Kaufman, K. 1996. Lives of North American Birds. Houghton Mifflin Co., New York.
Terres. J. K. 1980. The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York