Notice for readers: On March 31, Neotropical Birds will be integrated into the new Birds of the World, a powerful research database offering species accounts for every species on earth. Learn more at While Birds of the World is a subscription service, we remain committed to offering this content to Neotropical Birds contributors and to those unable to pay for it through our scholarship program. Stay tuned.

Cuban Gnatcatcher Polioptila lembeyei


The Cuban Gnatcatcher was described by the most famous of this island’s ornithologists, the naturalised Juan (Johannes) Gundlach, for one of his predecessor’s, Juan Lembeye, who published an early catalog of the country’s avifauna. This delightful gnatcatcher, whose plumage recalls most Polioptila in being principally blue-gray and white, is distinguished by the crescentic black auricular mark. The only other gnatcatcher found on Cuba, the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) is a usually uncommon winter visitor to the island. Usually found in pairs, the Cuban Gnatcatcher is distributed in dense coastal scrub discontinuously east from central Cuba, and is also found on several small offshore islands, where its habitat is coming under increasing pressure from ongoing tourist developments. Nonetheless, the species remains reasonably common, at least locally, and is not currently perceived to be at particular risk of extinction. The Cuban Gnatcatcher breeds, like most resident landbirds on the island, from around March to July, and constructs a deep, cup-shaped nest, in which it lays 3–5 eggs.

Help complete this species

There are many ways to contribute—we need species information, photographs, audio, video, translations, maps, distribution data, and bird sightings. There's a role for everyone!

Learn more


© Gregory Budney

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Cuban Gnatcatcher (Polioptila lembeyei), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: