The coastal California gnatcatcher is a small, nonmigratory bird. The northernmost of several subspecies, the coastal California gnatcatcher is restricted to coastal Southern California and Baja California, Mexico, from southern Ventura and southwestern San Bernardino counties in the north, to about 30 degrees north latitude in Baja California.
The coastal California gnatcatcher was listed as threatened in 1993 because of historical and ongoing habitat loss and predation, including brood parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds. Coastal sage scrub used to grow in many of the areas that are now developed for urban, residential and agricultural use. Since listing, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have worked with cities, counties and other jurisdictions to develop large-scale habitat conservation plans. These plans authorize development in certain areas in exchange for protection and management of natural areas. Through these collaborative efforts, approximately 350,000 acres of coastal sage scrub vegetation have been preserved within habitat conservation plan areas to benefit the coastal California gnatcatcher.
It typically occurs in, or near, sage scrub plant communities. In Southern California, plants that typify coastal sage scrub include California, California buckwheat and several other sage species.
Arid land with usually sparse vegetation.
The land near a shore.
The coastal California gnatcatcher is a small songbird that weighs 0.2 ounces (6 grams).
The coastal California gnatcatcher is a small, nonmigratory bird.
The coastal California gnatcatcher has dark blue-gray feathers on its back, grayish-white feathers on its underside and white rings around its eyes. It has a long, mostly black tail, and a thin, small bill. Adult males have a black cap during the breeding season.
Breeding season extends from late February through early August. During this time, pairs strongly defend territories against other gnatcatchers and predators. Nesting typically occurs from mid-March through mid-May, with nests constructed in coastal sage scrub about three feet above the ground.
Coastal California gnatcatchers eat insects and spiders.
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