Peterson's Perspective

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FEEDING

Diet
Where did the expression "eat like a bird" come from? Birds have a high metabolic rate and must consume more food in proportion to their size than most animals. A warbler might eat 80 percent of its body weight in a day. The diet of a bird varies according to the season, the availability of food, and the bird itself. Some birds are omnivores, while others have very specific requirements and must move with the seasons to find food.

The Bird Cafe may include any of the following depending on the species...
Amphibians
Buds
Crustaceans
Fish
Fruit
Grass
Insects
Larvae
Leaves
Mollusks
Nectar
Other Birds
Pollen
Reptiles
Rodents
Roots
Sap
Seeds
Suet
Snails
Tubers
Vegetation
Worms

Birds feed in many different ways...

Ash-throated Flycatchers White-breasted Nuthatch

Loggerhead Shrikes impale their prey on sharp branches.

Ash-throated Flycatchers (above, left) find insects on the wing.

Snowy Egrets shuffle about in pools to stir up fish, frogs, and other food.

The upside-down White-breasted Nuthatch (above, right) probes the bark of trees for insects, finding food the upright woodpeckers might miss.

Brown Pelicans knife into the sea for their fish dinner and are occasionally harassed by gulls for what they catch.

American Robins tugging on worms or eating berries can be a common sight.

Pileated Woodpeckers drill holes looking for tree-boring insects.

American Goldfinches regularly probe for seeds on thistle plants.


Behavior
The manner in which birds eat varies according to the bird's anatomy, habitat, and the accessibility of food. Ducks and geese graze, dabble, and dive. Thin-billed songbirds eat insects and the seed-eaters crack seeds with their heavy, sharp bills. Some birds feed in flocks, others bury food for later use. Mockingbirds scare up insects by flashing their wings, and Green Herons have been known to fish with bits of bread.

Scarlet Tanagers glean foliage for insects.

Black Vultures feed on road kill.

Wilson's Phalaropes

Wilson's Phalaropes (above) spin like a top to stir up food in the water.

Ruddy Turnstones flip small rocks in their search for tiny invertebrates along the water's edge.


Belted Kingfishers (below) hover and then plunge to snatch unsuspecting fish from below the water's surface.

Belted Kingfishers
Green Herons snag fish with their pointed bill.

Black Skimmers draw a line on the surface of the water as they feel for small fish.

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