Migrants Need to Fuel Up and Get Fat
While out and about of late watching wood-warblers, vireos, and other neotropical migrants pausing on their long journey south I have been enjoying watching the different foraging strategies and foods that different species and even individuals of the same species use. Their migration is long and full of perils and at each stopover point the birds need to find and consume enough food to rebuild their fat reserves before the next segment of their journey. While the food can be divided into vegetable and animal, the variety within each category is astounding, as well as the strategies that the birds use to exploit each food resource. One example is porcelain berries, which I saw some birds, like the Red-eyed Vireo in the little picture above right, sit and eat, others hover and pluck, and still others stretch and grab from a perch above or below the berries. It is as fascinating to see what birds eat and how as it is to just see the birds.
And, of course, it is very helpful to know what foods are available and where so a well-prepared birder can get to those spots and let the birds come to him. Of course, if said birder is equipped with a digiscoping rig and makes sure the light is at his back, well, you get galleries of foraging birds like the one below. Enjoy!
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher foraging in Virginia Creeper
Magnolia Warbler searching for tasty invertebrates
female Black-throated Blue Warbler grabbing a porcelain berry
Prairie Warbler hunting caterpillars
Philadelphia Vireo looking for bugs
Rose-breasted Grosbeak eating a dogwood berry
Northern Parula eating a berry of the Japanese Angelica Tree
Red-eyed Vireo foraging for food amid Virginia Creeper
Magnolia Warbler doing battle with a caterpiller
Least Flycatcher waiting to swoop down and catch dinner