Monday, August 31, 2009

Eat It Up

Bon Appetit!

Small birds lead grueling lives: from the moment they pop out into the world as fertilized eggs, they are in risk of turning into someone else's lunch. When they're not worrying about getting eaten themselves, they are either migrating, mating (or engaged in stressful mating-related activities such as fighting for territory or fighting off potential competitors)—or eating.

A knowledgeable source told me that warblers typically eat their weight in insects every day. I haven't gotten around to independently confirming this, but if it's anywhere near true, the only people who should ever be told to "eat like a bird" are sumo wrestlers. And maybe this guy.

During migration, appetites increase as birds fuel up for consecutive all-nighters of flight to the Southern Hemisphere. Last spring, a flock of Chipping Sparrows ate their little way through a 4-cup-capacity feeder-full of seed at my place every day for about three weeks before taking off for points north. Their company was getting quite expensive.

Now the birds are heading back south and some have deigned to stop in Gainesville. Not too many of these, however, have deigned to allow themselves to be seen by me this weekend. One of the more cooperative ones was this Black-and-white Warbler, grabbing one of many juicy snacks by the Bolen Bluff Trail in Paynes Prairie State Park:

This Red-eyed Vireo wasn't eating at the moment, but most likely, he or she was thinking about it. How do I know this? Hey, this is the internet—it has to be true!


Sparverius said...

Nice pics. I love the spider. And those birds are beautiful. I am pretty sure you are right about thinking about eating. That is usually what's on my mind. :)

Carol said...

Great pics. Like the spider. It's the unusual stuff like that ..that's hard to get. Didn't realize fungi etc was so pretty..guess I need to start looking at that also. It's amazing what you can learn on blogs.

Felicia said...

Belated thanks to both of you! Wendy, being outdoors a lot definitely makes one hungry. Carol, Florida fungi are definitely crazy cool--and easier to photograph than birds!

dAwN said... I didnt realize that they ate their weight in bugs..great info!

Felicia said...

Hi Dawn,

I'm not *completely* sure about the accuracy of that claim (I've heard it many times, but never checked it out independently). But I do know that warblers eat insane amounts right before migration. Gorgeous creatures with mind-bogglingly stressful lives...