20160521 Gleaning

I did a little thinking today and recalled Lovelock’s  Gaia Hypothesis that was popular with young life scientists about 40 years ago.  Some parts of Gaia are still well regarded, except in the group that deny AGW.  Gleaning by birds is what stimulated my recall.  [Not the other form of gleaning.]

My strategy for finding and photographing Warblers is to:

Listen for them.  When I hear them, I ….

Stop and watch for them …


I saw a Chestnut-sided Warbler gleaning an Aspen tree, then move to an Alder Clump:


Where it was joined by a Black-capped chickadee, gleaning…

Notice the foot spreading the cluster of buds to reveal what is hidden there …


Inspecting another bud cluster …


The birdie quickly grabs morsel as it takes off … (which is a factor in making this type of photography difficult … (like picking fly specks out of ground black pepper)


Another spot, another inspection …


Aha!  A morsel!….



“Let’s see if there are any more in there.  I’ll just hold this leaf bud down with my foot.”


Breeding time requires lots of protein for birdies.  So springtime is a perfect time to glean trees, shrubs etc for newly hatched insects (from eggs that over-winter in bud clusters.)  Chickadees are omnivorous and stay around all winter, eating seeds (especially sunflower seeds at birdfeeders).  Warblers are primarily,  insectivores   giving them a good reason to migrate, annually removing “pests” from vegetation all the way from South and Central America to Northern Ontario.

I think that we can thank  Rachel Carson  for alerting us to the effects of DDT and other pesticides on these natural predators of insects.  Thank goodness we have alert scientists who think beyond the profits of their organizations and who take action.

Lots to be gleaned by watching birdies rid vegetation of pesky insects.

Insect pollination of spring ephemerals is another interesting story.