Western Wood Pewee 2019
This is a nestling Western Wood Pewee. She came in after her nest was blown down after a heavy wind. She was a hoot to finish raising. As an aerial insectivore and eating by catching her insect prey in flight with her feet, she took some extra care getting her ready for release. Babies like this need practice catching their food, so giving her flighted insects was necessary. We do that with bot fly larva and fruit flies (which we make ourselves by...you guessed it...lots of old fruit scraps. Basically we leave a bucket of rotting food out in the aviary with 1/4 inch screen on it so birds cannot get in, but bugs can get out. I would also toss crickets and mealworms in the air for her to catch...she was super adept early on and kept getting better. She learned way faster than her barn swallow buddy who would just look at me from his high perch and shun my attempts. He eventually got it though and both would swoop down to catch what I tossed up. Notably, she caught her bugs with her feet and the swallow caught his with his mouth - both variations on on-the-wing foraging by birds. This little Pewee was surely one of the sweetest birds we have had in care. She got released with a whole flock of other Pewees at Camp Polk Meadows. Birders helped us locate a flock, then we took her to them. She flew directly towards the flock and two came out to greet her. Absolutely perfect!
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