The Flight of "The Catcher"Read Now
Well...the long anticipated return to Jersey has occurred....it seems that Spring brings such a gusto of birding adventures that once summer hits and birds settle into their routine, many of us find ourselves doing other adventures, some birding and some not.
I returned from a few trips to Tucson and to Minot, (Pronounced My Not) North Dakota and to Washington State..... Now back in Jersey for a few months. Not to utterly bore you with those fine trips which did bring out a few 'lifers' such as the Upland Sandpiper, Bairds Sparrow, Sprague's Pipet (all in ND) and Mexican Chickadee in Catalina Mountains in AZ...
Yet here I sit now in Jersey and watch this peewee in my backyard. You see, there is a nice couple out here in my trees who happen to have a fine looking brood within their nest. I can't quite tell how many are in that brood but I see gaping beaks with pink tongues darting in a out, pointing upward just past the brim of the nest as I look 'up'.
What I find spectacular about these peewees is their 'hunting process'. Both parents hunt and both have one particular branch in mind to 'sit at'. They go back and forth between their 'catch' and the 'nest. But the process of 'catching' is fascinating to watch as I sit here with a beer, my chair, my bins...and my neck cranked upwards.
These peewees are astonishing good at catching their prey. It doesn't take long for them to spot a nice huge insect flying and sometimes this insect is 20 yards away from their perch. They have this 'draping-type' flight it seems where it is like someone tosses them out of the tree on a yoyo, and they immediately are pulled back to their perch. But in almost all cases, they are 'pulled back' with a large insect in beak.
Now, I surely didn't see that insect....but they did. Hence their 'toss' out into the atmosphere. Bingo...got one.
Then at their perch they 'prepare' the insect depending on the size. They are like chefs, preparing the food for their brood. If the insect is large enough, they seem to crunch it up as they create a soufflé' of sorts. Yummy. Then they hop up to their nest and feed the gaping mouths. Once the soufflé' has been crammed down the gaping mouths, they once more take flight to their favorite perch.
While at their perch, most likely their partner is repeating this food preparation performance. They should really be on the TV show 'Chopped' as they prepare their main and only course.
Birds though are remarkably adept at catching their prey....whether it is fish from the water or an insect from the atmosphere or perhaps a bird caught in mid-flight, either way.....they are fun to watch. And, the beauty of it is, is that this isn't even migration and yet things are happening. Just grab a beer, a chair and your bins and allow yourself to be immersed in nature.
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