May 24, 2013
Written by Jack Sanders
Thursday, 11 August 2011 10:46
Summer is the lush time in the plant and animal worlds, the season of bounty. And birds take advantage of it.
Billions of insects are found in the air, on trees and shrubs and along the ground and around waterways. Plants are putting forth countless fruits of all sizes and shapes — seeds and berries rich in nutrition.
It’s a huge smorgasbord for the birds, which are, in early and mid-summer, feeding their offspring. Later in summer, they use this cornucopia to fatten up for the flight south or to stock up for the coming cold.Feeding nestlings and fledglings is full-time work for parent birds. In a world full of predators, babies must grow quickly so they will be able to fly and fend for themselves as soon as possible.
Most songbird nestlings are fed insects, which are high in protein. The insects may be live, freshly killed, or partially digested, depending on the bird species. Younger birds tend to need soft insects, like caterpillars, while older ones can handle harder ones, like beetles.
A few species of finches, such as goldfinches, siskins and crossbills, feed their offspring exclusively seeds. Shorebirds rely on fish and crustaceans for food and raptors will generally serve up small mammals or fish.
To grow rapidly, young birds eat a lot. Various studies of parents have come up with some astonishing statistics:
• An Eastern Phoebe with four offspring was counted making 8,942 trips to the nest in 17 days — that’s an average of 526 trips per day. However, one was observed visiting the nest 845 times in one day. House Wrens have been observed doing up to 491 feedings a day. Starlings can make 17 trips an hour to the nest.
• Tree Swallows capture an average of 8,000 insects a day to feed a brood of five. They average 19 insects per trip.
• Ornithologists Allan and Helen Cruickshank reported that while they may make only one nest visit per hour, some species of swifts may be carrying up to 700 captured insects!
• A young robin eats 14 feet of earthworms a day, the Cruickshanks also report.
Incidentally, both parents usually feed the offspring. However, this is not always the case. After mating, the male Ruby-throated Hummingbird takes off, leaving the female to raise the family.
Sharon Audubon Festival, nature walks, displays, talks, music, food, more, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 13 and 14, 9 to 5, Audubon Sharon, (860) 364-0520, www.sharon.audubon.org
Birding with Luke Tiller: Sunday, Aug. 28: Westport Shorebirds, 1 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 17: Trout Brook Valley, Easton, 7:30 a.m.; Sunday, Sept. 25: Westport Warblers, 7:30 a.m.; Saturday, Oct. 8: Allen’s Meadow and Secret Hotspots in Wilton, 7:30 a.m.; Saturday, Oct. 29: Sparrow Big, 7:30 a.m.; $10 each; To register visit www.sunrisebirding.com/walks.htm.
Birding for Beginners, everything you wanted to know about bird watching, but were afraid to ask, with Luke Tiller, Saturday, Sept. 10, 7:30 to 10:30 a.m., $15, Audubon Greenwich, 613 Riversville Road, Greenwich, 203-869-5272 x221 greenwich.audubon.org
Birds in their Habitat art exhibition and sale, featuring bird carver Floyd Scholz, Sept. 23 to 25, Connecticut Audubon, 2325 Burr Street, Fairfield, 203-259-6305, ext 407.
HawkWatch Weekend and Green Bazaar, live birds of prey shows, kids activities, food, eco-friendly businesses, more, Oct. 1 and 2, 11 to 5, Audubon Greenwich, 613 Riversville Road, Greenwich, 203-869-5272 x239 greenwich.audubon.org.
Copyright 2011 by Jack Sanders. Send sightings or comments to: jackfsanders [at sign] yahoo.com, or to Bird Notes, Box 1019, Ridgefield, CT 06877; or call 203-438-1183, extension BIRD (2473), and leave a message with your report, spelling your first and last names and telling us your town. If you need help identifying a bird, try your local nature center. If you find an injured bird, call wildlife rehabilitator Darlene Wimbrow of Redding, 203-438-0618, Wildlife in Crisis of Weston, 203-544-9913, or Wild Wings of Greenwich, 203-637-9822. The columnist’s website is www. sandersbooks. com.
|< Prev||Next >|
The requested URL /components/com_soyd/tent.php was not found on this server.