Sunday, July 8, 2012

Warbling Vireo catches fly...then removes head, wings, and legs before eating...

I know this post is a little strange, but the behavior is interesting. Watching this Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus) catch a fly and then proceed to pluck it like a chicken before eating it, was unexpected. I've seen hawks de-feather birds before eating them, but I've never watched a warbler de-head, de-wing and de-leg a bug before dining...

A Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus) catches a fly in midair from his perch. 
First he secures it with his foot...
...then he rips off the head and gives it a fling.

...then he goes back to rip off a wing...

...and reposition for better handling.

The fly still has a few legs and one wing...

...but not for long.

There goes another leg...

...and then the wing.

The fly has been plucked clean and is ready for consumption.

...but first it has to be positioned just so.

...the first gulp...

...and it's down the hatch!

I photographed this Warbling Vireo at Magee Marsh in Toledo, Ohio. I was there this May during spring migration for the Biggest Week in American Birding festival (click here for all the Magee Marsh posts). The sun was setting, casting the boardwalk in semi-darkness and deep shadow, so the quality of these photos is not best, but the subject was so cool (...and cool always trumps quality!). I'll have to watch carefully to see if other birds take off the head, legs and wings of insects before they eat them. I frequently see cicada wings lying around on the ground, so I assume birds ripped those wings off before eating, but I've never photographed a bird doing it...  

19 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

pretty neat! who knew they didn't like the 'roughage'. :)

holdingmoments said...

Great captures of interesting behavior Kelly. Makes me wonder how many other birds do this.

Wanda..... said...

Really special photos, Kelly!

Montanagirl said...

Great sequence, Kelly! How interesting that he did that. Some parts are just not to be eaten I guess.

Janice K said...

And his eyes seemed to be smiling all the while he was doing it...Must has been think about how good it would taste.

Banjo52 said...

Gosh, that's interesting. Nice work, light or no light. Also, I can't get clear on just what vireos look like--mostly because I never see them. Maybe this will help.

Carole M. said...

lovely series of photographs of this sweet bird

Roy said...

That is one fussy eater Kelly.{:)

Kerri said...

Absolutely - very cool!!

Roy said...

Wow! Picky eater, huh?

KaHolly said...

I can't believe this series of photos!! WOW!!

Jerry said...

Lovely soft-light shots which seem appropriate with this birds charming, delicate colours.

NCmountainwoman said...

Amazing photographs! Who knew?

Robert Mortensen said...

Cool behavior! Nice job Kelly!

Elaine said...

Fascinating! I never knew birds would prepare their dinner before swallowing it. It's kind of like watching one of those cooking shows on TV.

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone. This was so fun to watch. I had never seen it before. Usually I see a bird snatch a bug and swallow it down, or I see a bird with a mouthful of bugs on the way to the nest to feed the babes, but pulling the wings off a bug? :-)

Guy said...

Wow!!!

Guy

Kathie Brown said...

Amazing! This series is fantastic!

Debbie Miller @HooootOwl said...

That is so interesting! Great post and images of this behavior Kelly!