Date: 7/11/19 5:39 pm
From: Karl Schneck <keschneckdds...>
Subject: [obol] Re: Purple Martins feeding on larvae in birch trees
*From BNA:* Diurnal forager, pursuing and catching insects in flight. Very
rarely may glean insects off foliage or alight on ground to take
caterpillars (Gullion 1980
<https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/purmar/references#REF57118>),
or skim insects off water surface (Riggs 1947
<https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/purmar/references#REF17736>
).
Insects taken probably reflect local availability and vary across breeding
season (Johnston 1967b
<https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/purmar/references#REF57120>).
Total of 57 insect families found in diet study in Kansas (Johnston 1967b
<https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/purmar/references#REF57120>);
14 found in a more limited study in Alberta (Walsh 1978
<https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/purmar/references#REF17753>).
Included were beetles (Coleoptera), true bugs (Hemiptera), flies (Diptera),
dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata), leafhoppers (Homoptera),
grasshoppers and crickets (Orthoptera), butterflies and moths
(Lepidoptera), wasps and bees (Hymenoptera), caddis flies (Trichoptera),
and spiders (Araneida). In Texas, sometimes feeds on cicadas (Homoptera:
Cicadidae), despite enormous size of these insects, although parents have
difficulty transferring them to young (Brown 1981a
<https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/purmar/references#REF47204>).
Has also been seen feeding on monarch butterflies (*Danaus plexippus*) in
Wisconsin (Sontag and Steffen 1990
<https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/purmar/references#REF47241>),
winged termite (Isoptera) and mayfly (Ephemeroptera) emergences in Texas
and Indiana (Riggs 1947
<https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/purmar/references#REF17736>,
CRB), and tent caterpillars (*Malacosoma disstria*) in Minnesota, in the
latter case by gleaning them from foliage (Gullion 1980
<https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/purmar/references#REF57118>
).
Despite advertising claims by birdhouse manufacturers that martins
routinely eat ≥2,000 mosquitoes/d (Wade 1966
<https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/purmar/references#REF17750>),
no credible evidence that this species routinely eats any mosquitoes
(Diptera: Culicidae; Kale II 1968
<https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/purmar/references#REF47225>).
Feeds high and during daylight hours, in contrast to mosquitoes, which fly
low and mostly at night (Kale II 1968
<https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/purmar/references#REF47225>
).

Karl Schneck

"As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but
nature's sources never fail." John Muir


On Thu, Jul 11, 2019 at 4:36 PM Jeff Gilligan <jeffgilligan10...>
wrote:

> I was contacted by a Purple Martin expert in Washington, who had not heard
> of such a thing. At his request, I went back and saw martins catching
> small yellow caterpillar-like creatures. The martins aren’t particularly
> good at it. They miss some, and are clumsy looking when they reach for the
> caterpillars or change branches to look for them.
>
> He located a reference to such behavior: Charles Brown’s 1997 species
> account. Page 7, Food Habits, capture and consumption, says, “Very
> rarely may glean insects off foliage or alight on ground to take
> caterpillars (Gullion 1980)….”
>
> Gullion, G.W. 1980. Purple Martins feeding on tent caterpillars. Loon 52:
> 190-191. “
>
> Neither he or I have a subscription The Birds of North America. If
> someone reading this does, can you tell us what that reference says about
> the subject.
>
> Thanks
>
> Jeff Gilligan
>
>
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