Subject: [Tweeters] Western tanagers learn a new trick
Date: Jun 23 17:52:21 2014
From: A & S Hill - 60stops2home at

Wow, though I?ve not seen any Western Tanagers on our property here in Kalama (Cowlitz County), lately I have been finding multiple pieces of shredded paper wasp nests scattered in our flower bed out front. I wonder what other bird species are known to prey on the wasp larvae?

Amy Hill

Kalama, WA

628 feet up in Cowlitz County

60stops2home at kalama dot com

artlessfun at yahoo dot com

From: tweeters-bounces at [mailto:tweeters-bounces at] On Behalf Of Rob Sandelin
Sent: Sunday, June 22, 2014 12:23 AM
To: 'tweeters tweeters'
Subject: [Tweeters] Western tanagers learn a new trick

I am grateful that the woods around my house are suitable for tanagers. This bright sprite of a bird outshines all the local competition. This week I got several reports of a new tanager foraging behavior. I am not sure if it is one bird or several as this has been seen now at 5 of my neighbors homes and also mine. The tanagers have figured out that the skylights on covered porches make nifty bug traps. And while the bird is there it can also scan the porch ceiling for European paper wasps nests. They knock the nest down and pull out the larva, stack them in a pile then pick up a mouthful to feed to their kids. A few years ago I counted 12 nests on my front porch, now there are none, I checked with some neighbors and they too have none, and have noticed the bits of paper lying about. This might be an interesting example of how a learned behavior affects the ecology of my garden. If this adult tanager can pass this trick to its offspring, then the local population of paper wasp might drop. Since the wasp puts a caterpillar in each nest cell to feed its larva once the eggs hatch, less wasps equals more caterpillars. More caterpillars equals more cabbage white butterflies which lay their eggs on my broccoli. So a new behavior in a tanager means less fresh broccoli for me. Since the phyto-nutrients in broccoli are especially good at fortifying the human body against cancer, my potential life span declines. Huh? Yikes maybe I am not so grateful that Tanagers share my yard.

Rob Sandelin,

Pondering consequences in

South Snohomish County