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Feeding Habits of the White-Breasted Wood-Swallow

Ken Stott, Jr.
6 (November-December)
From Field and Study
Online Text

Feeding Habits of the White--breasted Wood-swallow.-The White-breasted Wood-swallow (Artamus Zezrcorhynchzrs) is of widespread distribution among the islands of the western and southwestern Pacific. It is a common bird in the littoral coconut plantings of the Philippines where it has welcomed the introduction &f telephone poles and their intervening strands of wire. In chattering rows on these man-provided perches the Wood Swallows await passing insects, after which they sally forth much in the manner of feeding tyrant flycatchers.

Occasionally they select as potential meals insects much too large for a single birds to cope with and in such instances the capture of the prey becomes a community project. In the city of Zamboanga, Mindanao, I watched from within a few feet a group of four wood-swallows systematically destroying a four-inch long grasshopper which crawled across the ground. The first bird swooped down to deal the insect a sharp blow with its beak and one by one its companions dropped like dive bombers to further maim their victim. Despite the speed with which they flew, never once did a bird overshoot its target. The toughness of the grasshopper’s horny exoskeleton required many blows before the insect was sufficiently injured to allow one of the birds to carry it away.-KEN STOTT, JR., San Diego Zoo, California, July 12,1946. 

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