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Two Birds, One Photo.

May 7, 2011

Yesterday I was down along one of the rivers that go through town.  Early May means spring migrants!

A Baltimore Oriole was up in the treetops, singing.  As I was trying to get a picture of him, I heard a Yellow Warbler singing nearby.  It turns out that the Yellow Warbler was lower down in the same tree, looking for insects in the leaves.  Here’s the photo of both of them in their spring finest.

Baltimore Orioles can be heard singing their rich flute-like notes in the warm weather from the treetops of tall scattered trees, such as those found in parks.  They are robin-sized with orange and black feathers.  Their orange color is quite distinctive.

Yellow Warblers are a common warbler species in the eastern US.  They are notable for their all-yellow plumage, though the male has chestnut-colored streaks on his breast.  You can hear them in the woods singing their song: ‘sweet-sweet-sweeter-than-sweet’.

The nice thing about this picture is that it shows different specializations by different bird species.  Unseen in this photo were a pair of Song Sparrows that were down near the base of a neighboring tree.  The male would sing from no more than several feet up in the trees, preferring the shrubs and the ground for food sources.  Also, swallows flew through the air, looking to catch insects on the wing.  All of these birds have their own niches in the landscape in which they look for food.  They often have different bills, reflecting their different food sources and differing ways of catching that food.  Some birds pry food out of bark; others snap food up off of leaves.  Still others find their meals under objects on the ground.  And some catch their dinner in mid-air.

The next time you see a bird, take a look at where it is.  What is it doing?  How does it move through the area?  How does it hold its body, what does it look for?  What does its beak look like- is it a thin pointed beak, a thick short beak, or a chisel-like wedge?

Where a bird is, what it does, even what a bird looks like has a lot to do with how it finds what it eats.  And different species finding food in different parts of the landscape makes for more efficient use of nature’s bounty.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 7, 2011 1:21 pm

    Fascinating! It’s like you’ve captured two worlds (or niches) in one picture ad shown how close they are to each other. Cool!

    • May 8, 2011 12:23 pm

      It was a fortunate picture- I bet I miss several for every lucky one I manage to take.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. May 10, 2011 2:47 am

    Great entry! I too was a keen birdwatcher as a kid, and have got back into it in the last couple months 🙂 I used to see lots of yellow warblers in our backyard when I lived in Canada. They’re pretty unmissable!

    • May 10, 2011 8:15 am

      Yellow Warblers are one of my favorite birds- you can hear them in the spring if you’re anywhere around parkland here in Ohio. Definitely easy to spot, too!

  3. May 13, 2011 5:32 am

    Lovely shot! The birds are so colorful.

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