Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Real Angry Birds and a Few Other Things of Interest

A not so angry Rose-breasted Grosbeak partakes of some sunflower seed
A lot of us like to think of nature a place of peace and tranquility and not a place where fussing and fighting abounds. Often enough the nature preserve is peaceful, but just lately I've come across a few residents that were not getting along so well. One parent Red-eyed Vireo in particular seemed to be in for a disproportionate amount of strife. It already had a very insistent cowbird fledgling (presumably a foster child), chasing after it and begging for food. If that wasn't bad enough, a pair of Eastern Wood Pewees got onto its case and began diving at it and disrupting its foraging duties. My first thought was that they were doing this in order to drive off their competition, but since vireos for the most part glean their insect prey off of leaves and branches while pewees obtain their insect prey by snatching them out of the air, one would think that there wouldn't be much overlap. 
The parent Red-eyed Vireo (top) and its begging cowbird fledgling (bottom)
An Eastern Wood Pewee - plotting its attack?
When the pewees weren't chasing the vireo they'd be at each other
Imagine being intimidated by something called a "pewee"
The vireo finds its prey (usually insect larva) lurking on leaves and branches
Whatever the reason, the 2 pewees swooped at and chased after the Red-eyed Vireo for the better part of 20 minutes. I finally came to the conclusion that these pewees were youngsters and were likely just having some fun with a smaller species. Interestingly, the vireo would fly off when chased, but then would then come right back and continue its work. There was also an immature Ruby-throated Hummingbird with an inflated sense of its own power. It was chasing everything away including a tanager and that same poor vireo.Why? I can't be sure. Again, there shouldn't be much overlap in food preferences for those species, but go tell the hummingbird that. You might wonder why a comparatively large songbird would "run away" when chased by a crazed hummingbird. Well you might run away too if a giant bee with a sword on the front of its face was heading for you at top speed!
The hummingbird buzzes off after another "victim"
Cedar Waxwings have been very common lately
Waxwings love to take insects on the wing
Local migrants like this immature Chestnut-sided warbler are being seen nearly everyday
An immature Bay-breasted Warbler is a relatively early migrant from the north country
The Nashville Warbler is another local migrant
Baltimore Orioles are only seldom seen locally after August
The Least Flycatcher is yet another migrant songbird that breeds locally

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