Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Teaching Kingbirds to Hunt

Posted by Kirk
I took this series of photos back in the summer and never got around to publishing them. Back on July 26th I took my digital nature photography summer campers to our bog to get photos of pitcher plants and sundew. I could hear constant calling from the trees and looked up to find four birds very high up in a dead tree. I wasn't sure what they were at first as they were so far away. The answer was soon clear though.

Down on the bog, a pair of Eastern Kindbirds were catching insects. It was fun to watch their expert flying and catching skills. They would sit on a perch, then fly low across the bog until they came to the spot where they'd seen an insect. They would briefly hover in mid air before diving down into the moss and catching the insect.

Once caught, they brought the insect up to the top of the tree where the young birds had been watching.

They would excitedly squeak and open their mouths just like baby birds still in the nest whenever the adults would arrive. In the photo below you can see the adult on the far right and three of he young birds begging with their mouths open.

This was clearly a pair of adults feeding their very recently fledged young. What I wonder is how much of this was simply feeding and how much teaching. Were the young watching to see how their parents hunted so they could soon try it on their own?

Either way it was a fun thing to witness.