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Garden Allies: Birds That Feed in Flight

Articles: Garden Allies: Birds That Feed in Flight

White-throated swift (Aeronautes saxatalis) Illus: Craig Latker

Feeding on the Wing

One of the pleasures of the Sonoma State University campus is a colony of cliff swallows that nest high on the walls of Salazar Hall, adjacent to the main quad. Watching their graceful flight is always a welcome diversion from the task at hand, and I look forward to their return each spring. Cliff swallows, along with barn swallows and phoebes, have adapted well to the intrusion of humankind, who provide convenient nesting sites on buildings, bridges, and under the eaves of houses. And what a fortuitous thing that is! Barn swallows wheeling and swooping above my garden are always a delight, not only because their aerial acrobatics are entertaining, but also because mosquitoes are one of their favorite foods.

Varied Diets and Feeding Styles

The birds discussed here catch insects on the wing; birds that catch their prey by gleaning it from foliage, bark, or ground, were discussed in a previous article (January 2010). Some birds, such as orioles, are primarily gleaners, but will go after a flying insect when the opportun...

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