Do you Eat like a Bird

by Dave Hanks

To eat like a bird is one of the most incorrect analogies I can think of. To most folks, it means that you don’t eat much – just nibble at your food. How untrue that analogy is! Any eagle or other large raptor can consume a whole rabbit at one meal. In fact, most species (large or small) consume half their body weight every day. As a comparison, a 130 pound woman would eat 50 to 70 pounds of food daily. “Great Scot”! Why do birds need that much food? Flight requires tremendous energy, both for body warmth and movement when aloft. When watching seed or insect eating species, notice that they rarely take a break from the task of obtaining their meals; and if feeding baby birds, the search becomes very intense. Not only must the adults feed themselves, but their young require even more than half their weight in daily nourishment.

The bird pictured is a BLACK PHOEBE. It is a southwestern member of the Flycatcher Family. It is a small songbird that is black with a white belly and a notched tail, which it wags, and is white underneath. This phoebe is always found in close proximity to water. The many insects that are found associated with wet areas, are important to fill its feeding needs.

Although it is primarily insectivorous, it will eat some berries, and also tiny fish – which it will also feed to nestlings. Insects are spotted from a low perch and then pursued. Hovering is another hunting method used. The nest is an open cup that’s made of mud, grass, and hair. The female is shown possible sites by the male hovering in front of spots for 5 to 10 seconds, but she makes the final decision – usually under an eave or under a bridge.

This bird is not colorful, but nevertheless attractive. It is also tolerant of people that come into its vicinity.

BLACK PHOEBE Perched and surveying the insect world

Perched and surveying the insect world

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