Date: 8/27/20 11:08 pm
From: Dan Gleason <dan-gleason...>
Subject: [obol] Re: Swift feeding frenzy
We saw this behavior about 25 years ago here in Eugene. There was a narrow corridor between the house we then lived in and the neighbor’s. In that space there was a mostly dead cedar tree. While standing outside one day I heard a snapping sound. Looking up I saw swifts flying by at nearly head height. At least 2 swifts were snapping off the ends of the small dead twigs of the cedar. In this case, they didn’t slow and hover, they simply flew straight at the twig and snapped them off. I’ve not seen this again, but I’m not usually in a good place to watch swifts gather nest twigs. If you are next season, it’s fun to watch.

Dan Gleason
Owner, Wild Birds Unlimited of Eugene
Ornithology Instructor, retired, University of Oregon

> On Aug 27, 2020, at 10:34 PM, Paul Sullivan <paultsullivan...> wrote:
> Back about 1990 in Pendleton. I saw Vaux Swifts nearly stalling in flight to
> snap off small twigs from dead trees to use in building their nests.
> Paul Sullivan
> -----------------------
> [obol] Swift feeding frenzy
> • From: Mark Rudolph <woodenappleturner@xxxxxxxxx>
> • To: obol@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> • Date: Thu, 27 Aug 2020 21:17:44 -0700
> Obolists,
> I observed a behavior of VAUX'S SWIFTS today that I had never seen before.
> At about 6 o'clock this evening over our neighbor's property in the Santa
> Clara area of Eugene, there was a swarm of swifts totaling at least 30
> birds and likely more. They were constantly roiling around and through the
> tops of two 60' tall cottonwood trees, one of which is mostly dead or
> moribund.
> They were engaging in what I would call "stall-out" gleaning as opposed to
> the hover gleaning engaged in by other species. With the wind coming out of
> the north, the birds would fly into the wind from the south and time their
> momentum and trajectory such that they would briefly stall right at a twig
> or branch, apparently grab a food item with their bill from the tree and
> then drop to regain speed and maneuverability for full flight. The swarm
> did this repeatedly for at least 20 minutes, and then, apparently, the
> hatch was over as they suddenly left.
> I've never observed swifts take a food item from a stationary object. At
> least I'm assuming they were feeding because I never actually saw any
> insects, although I was probably over 100' away. There were a few House
> Finches, Goldfinches and Cedar Waxwings also apparently feeding while
> perched in the tree. The Waxwings would occasionally sally out to grab
> something out of the air.
> It would be quite the feat to figure out their built-in air traffic control!
> Rudi
> *******
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