Daily Postcard: Beautiful Birds Congregating At Bandelier

Daily Postcard: In winter, birds of a different feather may congregate together into large mixed flocks. At Bandelier National Monument, mixed flocks often consist of Dark-eyed Juncos, Nuthatches, Kinglets, Mountain Chickadees, woodpeckers and Brown Creepers. So why do birds form these mixed flocks? It’s probably not just because birds enjoy one another’s company. For many, there’s a good reason for flocking: it’s safer than traveling alone. Searching for food out in the wilderness takes lots of concentration, and it’s hard to look for seeds or berries and watch for danger simultaneously. With more birds in the flock, there’s a better chance that a swooping hawk or prowling coyote will be spotted while there’s still time to sound the alarm and make a getaway. Grouping birds are often those seeking different food sources and therefore are not directly competing with each other. Some birds stay with the group as it travels from locale to locale, while others join for a short time and leave when the group exits their home territory. When hiking the Alcove House Trail one may suddenly encounter the chitter and chatter of many different bird varieties in a mixed winter flock. Mixed flocks are in constant motion and rarely stay in one place for very long, so the encounter is likely to be short-lived. Courtesy/BNM


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