Date: 12/6/17 8:45 pm
From: 'T.G. Miko' <tgmiko...> [SFBirds] <SFBirds-noreply...>
Subject: Re: [SFBirds] Avian Holiday Meals?
I recently submitted an observation here in Los Angeles County that I
watched Audubon's Warblers eating seeds in a tree, along with the House
Finches. This turned on a light bulb over my head about why they spend so
much time feeding on the ground. Up until now, I always thought that they
were finding small insects in the grass.

Tom Miko
Claremont LA County

On Dec 6, 2017 6:23 PM, "Richard Bradus <grizzledjay...> [SFBirds]" <
<SFBirds-noreply...> wrote:

> Hi all
> As birdwatchers, many tend to gloss over the subtleties of avian behavior
> or habit. When it comes to diet, of course we expect sparrows to be eating
> seeds, warblers to be after insects and accipiters and buteos to eat
> songbirds and rodents respectively. But, it's not really that simple...
> Over the past ten days or so I've noted some interesting avian dietary
> behavior, and it seems that we humans may not be the only ones indulging in
> unusual foods during the holidays. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving I was
> amazed to see an immature White-crowned Sparrow in Alta Plaza Park snag a
> caterpillar that was nearly half of its own length (!), then chew and
> ingest a small bit off the end before getting spooked and retreating into
> cover. It then proceeded to tear off small pieces, dropping the larger
> fragment onto the ground, then recovered it and flew into the brush to
> devour the rest mostly out of sight. Lest one think that the Thanksgiving
> period was just an excuse for unusual carnivorous activity, a bit later
> that morning there was a fracas of about 45 or so crows in Lafayette Park
> clustered about the granaries of the now resident Acorn Woodpeckers, a mob
> event that Lori Lee has documented a few other times previously. They were
> clearly going after the stores of acorns, and though their incessant
> squabbling and chasing of each other considerably limited their success in
> those efforts, it was as if the acorns were for them a holiday nut treat.
> Yesterday I made my way to Yerba Buena Gardens for lunch and to visit the
> museum and was pleasantly surprised when an immature Sharp-shinned Hawk
> flew right by and perched in one of the bare trees along the east side
> path. Hardly bothered by the numerous (mostly oblivious) passers-by walking
> just below, its attention was concentrated on the ground and surrounding
> bushes - the pigeons being quite distant on the other side of Mission St.
> (and probably too large for this little hawk anyway), and no sparrows or
> smaller birds to be seen. The Sharpie made a couple of passes onto the
> grounds and lawn, apparently going after insects; I'm reminded that "Patch"
> the immature Red-tailed Hawk that hung out at Alta Plaza Park a few years
> ago made its first hunts by catching grasshoppers and the like. Incredibly,
> the hawk was still there over an hour later after my museum excursion, but
> wasted little time as it soon swooped down across the edge of the brush to
> snag what appeared to be a field mouse, returning to perch briefly before
> thinking better of it and carrying its prey into the dense cover of the
> evergreen trees to the west. Clearly, accipiters eat rodents too; a matter
> of opportunity no doubt. iPhone photo (perched, sans prey) at
> As we go about our search for different species and interesting visitors,
> take some time to watch our resident and familiar birds as well, as they
> are endlessly entertaining and also may reveal some surprises.
> Happy holiday birding!
> Richard Bradus
> San Francisco

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