The black-tailed gnatcatcher (Polioptila melanura) is a small, insectivorous bird which ranges throughout the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It is nonmigratory and found in arid desert areas year-round.
The black-tailed gnatcatcher reaches about 11 to 13 cm in length, much of it taken up by a long black tail lined with white outer feathers. The body is blue-grey, with white underparts, and while it is similar to the blue-grey gnatcatcher, the two birds are differentiated by the amount of black in the tail feathers. The male has a black cap during the summer that extends to the eyes. Females and winter males, lacking the black cap, are difficult to distinguish from the blue-grey gnatcatcher. The best way to tell the two apart is the tail; that of the blue-grey is mostly white when viewed from below, and the black-tailed is predominantly black underneath. Like other gnatcatchers, it may give harsh, scolding calls while foraging for small insects and spiders in desert shrubs.