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Posts tagged “Bird Diets

Finch Family Visitors

Members of the Finch family (Fringillidae) from farther north have begun showing up at feeders and fruit trees, as was predicted.   Pine siskins, evening grosbeaks, pine grosbeaks, common redpolls and even a few red crossbills have ventured down into southern New England in search of food.  The latest arrivals in the Upper Valley (VT/NH) were pine grosbeaks (male pictured).  The mountain-ash berry crop is spotty further north, so pine grosbeaks have come south in search of  European mountain-ash trees as well as ornamental crabapples. Invasive buckthorn redeems itself somewhat by producing berries that pine grosbeaks also find appealing.


Barred Owl Diet

This is pure conjecture, but here goes. Barred Owls are known to consume small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. I have repeatedly encountered a Barred Owl lately near a pool of water in a brook that has all but dried up. Fish have become trapped in this pool due to the dryness of the summer, and are easy pickings for predators. Even though studies have shown that fish are a very small percentage of a Barred Owl’s diet (2.5% in owls from New Jersey, New York and Connecticut during the breeding season), I am betting that the owl that I flushed yesterday that was perched right next to the isolated pool in the brook was spending the day (and night?) at his favorite fishing hole. Three times it took off from its perch as I approached, but only flew a few feet away each time. Perhaps fish or frogs kept it from disappearing further into the woods.


Great Blue Heron Fishing

Although Great Blue Herons are colonial nesters, they forage by themselves, usually by slowly wading or standing in wait of prey in shallow water.  Fish are the mainstay of their diet, but they also consume amphibians, invertebrates, reptiles, mammals, and birds.  When prey is located (by sight), the heron rapidly thrusts its neck forward and grabs it with its beak.  If it is small, it is sometimes tossed in the air before it is swallowed, as the photograph depicts.  Most prey are swallowed whole.


Immature Common Merganser Diet

Common Mergansers are primarily fish-eating ducks. Young mergansers require over half a pound of food per day during their first summer, and often supplement their fish diet with insects, mollusks, crustaceans, worms, frogs, small mammals, birds and plants. The pictured immature Common Merganser had just downed a crayfish when it spotted a frog which it succeeded in catching and eventually swallowing.


Beaked Hazelnut

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The shrub Beaked Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta) is named for its fruit – a nut with a tubular husk that resembles a beak. The surface of the husk is covered with fine filaments that can irritate the skin. Rich in protein and fat, the hard-shelled nuts are a preferred food of Ruffed Grouse, Hairy Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, White-tailed Deer and squirrels. Beaked Hazelnut, a member of the Birch family, is quite versatile. Native Americans found many uses for its nuts – they ate them roasted and raw, pounded them for use in cakes, and used their oil as a cure for coughs, and colds, as well as an astringent. The wood of Beaked Hazelnut was carved into arrows, hooks and spoons, while the long, flexible shoots were twisted into rope. A European species of hazelnut is used for commercial production of hazelnuts (also called filberts) in the U.S.. The nut in this photograph has not matured and developed its hard shell, but I wanted to beat the squirrels to it!