Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Foraging Birds

The past few days, in little snippets of time, I have been watching some migrating songbirds find and eat their foods. Watching birds forage for their sustenance is my favorite bird watching activity. I take more notes on the behaviors of "food-finding" than probably for anything else in bird watching. And I keep a list of the foods various kinds of birds choose.

For instance, this past Saturday (3 Oct. 2009) at Bisset Park in Radford, I heard a Rose-breasted Grosbeak calling from a Water Oak. It took me over five minutes to finally see this bird, an adult male. It was cracking open acorns and eating the kernels. I haven't seen this species eating acorns before. There were Gray Squirrels and Blue Jays going for acorns in this tree also. One squirrel eased towards the grosbeak, and the the grosbeak flew to another limb. It grabbed another acorn in its bill and cracked it open, part of the hull falling down near me.

Sunday the 4th I observed an immature male Rose-breasted Grosbeak perched in a weed patch about two feet above ground, near some shrubby willows and alders...this location about a mile "parkway south" of Smart View. I observed it while it munched on the seeds of Giant Ragweed, and some other plant that I have not keyed out yet.

Later on the 4th, I sat down near three Palm Warblers foraging in the yard at my parents' house. The three warblers pecked, gleaned, chased, jumped, fluttered and other actions to catch tiny insects, most of which I would just simply call gnats, but I'm not sure what the species were. One caught a moth that was about the same size as the warbler's head. It flew up to a limb of a forsythia to pound, flog and "tenderize" the moth. All this activity attracted the other warblers and also a nearby Eastern Phoebe. The warbler flew to a better hideaway to finish its meal. Another Palm Warbler spent two or three minutes foraging on tiny insects on some marigold flowers, and under the leaves of tomato plants. It was strange to see a Palm Warbler perched on top of a green tomato, but while it rested there, flicking its tail, it pecked some small critter from the tomato and ate it.


38 comments:

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