Ever wonder why, starting in the fall, it seems there is a group of different bird species that show up together at feeders and then leave together on a regular basis? Well, it’s that time of year again. Your local foraging guild is reconvening for maximum winter survivability.
The foraging guild is a group of different bird species that band together in winter for foraging and protection. Depending on the region and habitat, foraging guilds can include chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, woodpeckers, creepers and kinglets.
The birds in the guild work cooperatively to maximize their food-finding efforts. In general, each of these birds forages for food in different ways. However, they all learn a bit about how the others feed and it helps with everyone’s survivability.
The chickadees look on the under-side of small and large branches, while the titmice look on the top-side of bigger branches and kinglets look on the top-side of smaller branches. Nuthatches walk down tree trunks looking into crevices while creepers walk up tree trunks. Woodpeckers, well, they usually drill down into the bark for their food; but, they will look on trunks as well as branches.
In the guild, birds are safer than on their own. With all those eyes watching for predators, they create a kind of “neighborhood watch.” They learn each other’s alarm calls so when danger is spotted, one just has to call out to warn the others.
So, it is not a random scenario when multiple species show up at your feeders this season. Like a wave, they move in together, eat a bit, and then move on.
The guild members using my feeders right now are Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers and White-breasted Nuthatches.
Do you have a guild of birds visiting your feeders?