The gnatcatchers start showing up during the third week of the month. I always hear them before I see them. The are slim, tiny birds, the general shape of a wren but leaner with a much longer tail and beautiful bright blue- gray plumage. They are fussy little things; giving a nasal, complaining wheeze almost non-stop. It seems the males and females show up at the same time and immediately start pairing up. It is not unusual at all to see a pair building a nest way before the leaves appear. They weave a tiny cup from spider webs and slender grasses, then coat it with lichens for perfect camouflage. Placed on a horizontal tree limb, it looks just like a natural knot on that limb. The only thing that gives it away is the constant quarreling and back and forth of the pair during the nest construction. Though it is only a couple of inches wide, it is surprisingly easy to see before the leaves emerge.
They will be abundant in just a few days. See if you can pick out their calls on your walks or when doing yard work.
The Louisiana waterthrush is not a thrush at all, rather it is a member of the warbler family. I suppose they are called “thrushes” because of the brown upperparts and streaked underparts. Like the gnatcatcher, they don’t require newly emergent foliage either, thus their early arrival date. They eat mainly aquatic invertebrates they find by wading into the shallow edges of creeks. They are not brightly colored but can be easily identified by the peculiar continuous bobbing of their rear ends, with a good look.