Townsend's Warbler--Perhaps Aphids, But No Cheese, Marshmallows or Peanut Butter Was Present--Re: [Tweeters] "Western" Palm Warbler(s) near UW-Seattle campus, King Co.

notcalm at notcalm at
Tue Dec 10 21:08:45 PST 2013

Thanks, Dave and others for the reports on the Palm Warbler.

I saw it feeding in the afternoon. As reported by several others, there was also a very layed-back Townsend's Warbler feeding at the same location. Looked like a First Winter Female Townsend's.

One of the interesting things about this bird's behavior is that it was gleaning very small, light colored insects, dead or alive from the leaves as seen in my video frame grabs. The bugs may have been aphids, scale insects or the equivalent. Any Bug Expert out there?

I later wondered if the recent freeze resulted in freeze-dried bugs on the ground and pavement. Which could have explained the interest in the pavement. I also wondered if a substantial bug die-off occurs during these periods of very low temperatures.

I just looked at Cornell Ornithology- Birds of North America Online , which offered much useful Information including:

"Feeds on honeydew secreted at the tip of threadlike anal tube of scale insects, commonly breaking tube ( Greenberg et al . 1993 ).

Little information. Western spruce budworm ( Tortricidae ) important where present ( Langelier and Garton 1986 ). Feeds on caterpillars, moths, winged insects, and other invertebrates commonly found on coniferous and deciduous foliage ( Gabrielson and Lincoln 1959 , SMM ). In California Oct–Jan, 31 specimens contained 95% animal matter ( Beal 1907 ). Of these animal parts, 42% were true bugs ( Hemiptera , mostly stinkbugs [ Pentatomidae ]), 25% bees and ants ( Hymenoptera ), 21% beetles ( Coleoptera , mostly snout beetles, or weevils [ Curculionidae ]), 12% other insects or spiders. Vegetable foods: seeds and leaf galls. Honeydew of scale insects important locally on winter range ( Greenberg et al . 1993 ). In winter, visits feeding stations where cheese, marshmallows, and peanut butter are offered ( Bent 1953 )." Cheese, marshmallows and peanut butter?

Dan Reiff
Mercer Island

----- Original Message -----
From: "Dave Slager " < dave . slager @ gmail .com>
To: tweeters@ uw . edu
Sent: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 9:38:48 AM
Subject: [Tweeters] "Western" Palm Warbler(s) near UW -Seattle campus, King Co.


There is at least one "Western" Palm Warbler actively foraging now in the low brush on the south side of the corner of NE Northlake Way and 7th Ave NE, just west of UW . This is at the bus stop just east of the Seattle Boat Company. I had prolonged and point-blank views of this rather tame bird, but when I first got there I saw 1-2 other " Dendroica "-type warblers flying away from the same location, both with a lot of white in the tail. These birds flew towards the west, so it may be worth checking the green spaces beneath the I-5 bridge.

The definitively-ID'd bird was foraging here: 47.654418,-122.320954

The best part about this sighting was that I identified the bird from inside a King County Metro bus I was riding to UW . The bus stopped at the bus stop to let somebody on, and I could see the warbler foraging and tail-bobbing on the fence just feet from my window. That's the quickest I've ever run off a bus!

Good birding,

Dave Slager
Seattle, WA

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