RE: Ant feast
"Bob Whatmough" <>
5 Sep 1995 10:14:13 +0930
When the meat ants swarm in the parklands around Adelaide, it's the Common
Starlings and the Silver Gulls that are attracted. The latter make quite
a sight as they circle endlessly. Ants are the only things slow enough for
them to catch in flight!
Just as I was heading off to work late this afternoon, it was obvious
something was going on by the number of birds congregating around the house.
A Pied Butcherbird several times came to sit on the roof gutter and a Noisy
Friarbird, Olive-backed Oriole and a pair of Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters
joined the usual troupe of White-plumed Honeyeaters. All these birds were
taking some ungainly black flying insects which I had not actually noticed
before then. The Butcherbird gave the game away by flying low over a meat
ants nest several times. Closer inspection revealed winged ants, taking
advantage of the 27mm of rain we had on Fri and Sat after about 35 days
without rain. The White-browed Woodswallows above the house had been
catching insects (the ants?) with supreme grace. On perching, they
wiped the tip of the insects' abdomen on the branch before eating them.
In comparison to the Woodswallows, the other birds looked quite clumsy.
I've also seen this happen in mid-summer with Rainbow Bee-eaters in on the
Like the Woodswallows, they take the insects so gracefully.
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