What’s for dinner?

I was amused by the antics of this little Tennessee Warbler as it probed the flowers of the buckeye tree in my backyard.  I don’t know what it was finding to eat among the flower heads; I took a few flowers apart, didn’t find any insects, but there was a drop of sticky nectar at the base of each.  Perhaps that is reward enough for a little 10 gram (1/3 ounce) bird.

Tennessee Warblers are the plain Janes of the warbler world.  Their most recognizable feature is the fact that they have no outstanding features, except a faint white eye stripe.

Tennessee Warblers are the plain Janes of the warbler world. Their most recognizable feature is the fact that they have no outstanding features, except a faint white eye stripe.

This little bird twisted itself into some unusual positions trying to get its beak down into the flowers.  Some examples:

tennessee warbler

The stretch move...

The stretch move, on tip toes to reach that top blossom.

Working on a back bend move...

Working on a side neck bend…

It has been interesting to see the waves of warblers move through.  A week ago, the trees were full of Yellow-rumped Warblers, and now we have hordes of Tennessee Warblers flitting about.

It is amazing how these birds synchronize their arrivals with the emergence of particular vegetation.  Each year the Tennessee Warblers arrive just as the buckeye tree is flowering, regardless of the actual date.  Since our spring was so delayed this year, the birds can’t be using a temporal cue.  They must be better weather predictors than our local meterologists!

11 thoughts on “What’s for dinner?

  1. Love the shots of the bird acrobatics (and the indirect commentary on your local meteorologists). I didn’t realize how synchronized the waves of migration were for birds. We are in a location where we have some wintering birds and some migrating birds and it’s difficult for me to figure out which ones are merely transiting the area.

    • Thanks, Mike. I would have missed a lot of the spring action (especially IDing the migrants) if I hadn’t joined up with the local Audubon birders on their weekly walks. That’s a great way to learn what is moving through vs what is normally present.

  2. Oh, I really love these pictures, especially that last shot! And I think you are right, that the bird is probably trying to get to the nectar. It’s a high-energy food, for sure, so maybe replacing lost stores from migration? I have observed my cardinals eating whole small flowers from succulents in the yard now and then, especially when on the nest. Not their typical diet, but I suspect birds can be opportunists, and when something different but nutritious presents itself, some of them take advantage of it.

    At any rate, being able to capture these photos of the warbler feeding is just super.I really look forward to your posts every day!

    • Someone commented on the MN Birding Facebook site that Tennessee Warblers are known to utilize flower nectar, so I guess that is what these birds were doing. Glad you can enjoy the spring migration buzz we are seeing up here.

  3. These little guys are in my crabapple tree today, as well. And I have had 3 people in various parts of the city tell me about the red headed woodpecker they are seeing-really a first for them and for their yards! Where is mine??? 🙂

    • Here is what the Cornell bird lab says about Red-headed Woodpeckers: they live in pine savannahs and other open forests with clear understories. Open pine plantations, treerows in agricultural areas, and standing timber in beaver swamps and other wetlands all attract Red-headed Woodpeckers.

      • Interesting. Perhaps there are differences in habitat in different parts of the country. Here, you won’t find red-headed woodpeckers far from large oak trees. Acorns make up a huge portion of their diet. I have seen them in pines, but only when there were plenty of oaks in the area, as well. Since mast (acorns) factors into their diet, I’m surprised Cornell doesn’t mention that. May have to do some research on this.

        • Yeah, me too. I would have thought large oaks would be a good place to look. Maybe, they frequent pine forests in the eastern part of their range??

        • Well, I don’t know the answer to why they don’t mention oaks, but if you go any farther east than where I live, you’ll be swimming in the Atlantic! *grin* Maybe farther north, it’s different, but still. The mast thing is puzzling, isn’t it?

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