Date: 8/29/19 10:45 am
From: DAVID A LEATHERMAN <daleatherman...>
Subject: [cobirds] Insect phenomenon yesterday in Fort Collins (Larimer)
Yesterday afternoon and evening an amazing phenomenon occurred in Fort Collins (and maybe elsewhere along the northern Front Range?). My stroll around Grandview Cemetery, which started about 3:30pm, had been rather lackluster until an emergence of flying ants, which I think has been on-going at low levels for several days, intensified. Then, the airspace overhead was sort of like that over DIA, only without traffic controllers. Barn Swallows coming as low as a foot off the ground, numbered a few dozen. At least 6 Common Nighthawks cavorted in irregular circles up high. Two Western Wood-Pewees darted out from the trees. Ditto for two Wilson's Warblers. A few Cedar Waxwings did deadhead stalls at the point of ant interception, showing off their yellow-rimmed tails in the backlight. It was quite a show.

A couple days ago I saw what I supposed was two family groups of Red-breasted Nuthatches foraging empidlike from a tall Douglas-fir near the cemetery entrance. I couldn't help but think this had to be more interesting and immediately nutritious for them than their normal primary mission at this time of year caching conifer seed after conifer seed after conifer seed. I could not tell what they were after but other than certain winged aphids, which also disperse in late summer, the likely targets were also flying ants.

Last evening I walked downtown from my apartment a mile east. Heading into the sun, the sky over all the streets was filled with flying ants of at least three types. If you saw me chasing after them, swatting at the air with cupped hand and putting them in a bottle, thanks for not calling the police.

Anybody else noticing flying ants and bird responses lately?

Dave Leatherman

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