Family Gnatcatchers (Polioptilidae)

Least Concern

Masked Gnatcatcher (Polioptila dumicola)


French: Gobemoucheron masqué German: Maskenmückenfänger Spanish: Perlita azul

Sylvia dumicola


, 1817,



Race berlepschi may represent a separate species, differing somewhat in plumage (much paler below; score 2) and also voice (on average, notes cover a narrower frequency range, and song phrase more often has a rising or falling pitch; score 2)#R; has been suggested that intergradation between it and nominate race has increased in S Brazil (S Mato Grosso) as forests that once isolated races have been cleared, but other authors comment that no intermediate specimens known; more study needed in presumed contact zone in vicinity of border between Mato Grosso and E Bolivia (Santa Cruz). Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. d. berlepschi Hellmayr, 1901 – Berlepsch's Gnatcatcher – C Brazil (SE Pará, Tocantins and SW Maranhão to S Mato Grosso, Goiás, W Minas Gerais and São Paulo); records farther NW in NW Mato Grosso#R and SE Amazonas#R. Presumably also E Bolivia (Beni, Santa Cruz and SW Cochabamba S through Tarija).
  • P. d. saturata Todd, 1946 – highlands of Bolivia (S of Cochabamba).
  • P. d. dumicola (Vieillot, 1817) – Masked Gnatcatcher – Paraguay and S Brazil (C Mato Grosso do Sul; Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina#R) S to E Argentina (E Jujuy and E Salta S to N & E Córdoba and N Buenos Aires) and Uruguay. Possibly SE Bolivia.
  • Descriptive notes

    12–13 cm; 5–7 g. Large, strikingly marked gnatcatcher. Male nominate race has black mask extending from above bill back to ear-coverts, lower edge of mask... read more


    Contact and warning calls rendered as “grehh” and “tserét-greh”.... read more


    Most records of race berlepschi from the Cerrado and Pantanal ecoregions; more... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet small arthropods. Following information based mainly on study of nominate race in old-growth coastal woodland in Argentina (Buenos... read more


    No information for berlepschi and saturata; following based on observations of nominate race. Season mid-Sept to Jan.... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common. Ecoregions occupied by nominate race and berlepschi not considered to be at any serious risk given their current and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Atwood, J. & Lerman, S. (2019). Masked Gnatcatcher (Polioptila dumicola). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 20 April 2019).