Birds, lights and food

Subject: Birds, lights and food
From: (Syd Curtis)
Date: Tue, 23 Jun 1998 21:56:53 +1000
In the discussion re starlings around street lamps, Jim Davis wrote -

>Perhaps, starling hang around streets lamps beacuse that's where the food
>(insects) is located - dead and alive.

This reminded me of two incidents from the past:

1. On a visit to the US of A in '72 to study National Park management (at
government expense) and knowing that I had no excuse to go birding, I had
an incidental private wish to see four particular species.  Not much to ask
of fate.  I arrived early in the day at the Big Bend NP in Texas and had
just sat down in the Superintendent's office to discuss Park managment,
when I had to break off to say:  "Am I seeing what I think I'm seeing?"

        "Oh, you mean the Roadrunner," said the Superintendent, "Yes, he
comes around here every morning to check for insects attracted to the
lights during the night."

(I scored two more of my species equally fortuitously - Dippers and a large
Woodpecker; Loons I have yet to meet.)

2. On a couple of trips to Cairns in the 1980s I noted a Welcome Swallows
nest, same place both times in the heart of the city, both times with
chicks being fed 9 o'clock at night by parents that really had it made -
with thousands of insects attracted to the lights just a few metres away.
I was never there during the day to see if they rested then after the night

Syd Curtis at Hawthorne

H Syd Curtis

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