Hi John,

Based upon input from several people (in particular, Stuart Krasnof) over the 
years, the key food resource used by neotropical migrants at the Hawthorn 
Orchard (during normal years) are the larvae of the Tortricidae moth family, 
collectively known as leaf-rollers. This has been a cold year and those larvae 
that I have analyze appeared to be significantly underdeveloped for the time of 

There’s a great book on Tortricidae moths in New York. I’ll try to dig up the 
title and authors. It was put out by Cornell University Cooperative Extension 
several decades ago.

One other general thought about how the birds know when there’s good food 
supplies at the Hawthorn Orchard (and when there isn’t) has been a frequent 
topic of conversation I’ve had many times with Meena Haribal. Recent studies 
have shown that birds have very finely tuned olfactory receptors (despite 
earlier thoughts that birds, in general, have a poor sense of smell).

If I recall correctly, when plants are under attack by insects, or are being 
damaged, they can release distress chemicals. It is hypothesized that when 
plants are under attack like this, these released distress chemicals may be 
detected in the air by migrating insectivorous birds, which then may descend 
upon an affected plant (or entire region of affected plants (i.e., cuckoos 
descending upon forests under attack by gypsy moths or tent caterpillars) to 
eat the insects, thus being beneficial to the plant and for the foraging birds.

I would appreciate any more insight others may have on this topic.

Hope this limited understanding helps, John!

Chris T-H

Sent from my iPhone

On May 25, 2020, at 16:10, 
<k...@empireaccess.net<mailto:k...@empireaccess.net>> wrote:

With all the neat birds reported annually from Hawthorne Orchard I wondered if 
anyone has studied the diet that attracts them or observed and followed up on 
the food they were getting? We know from the books that several species of 
moths are associated with Hawthorne and not sure what other caterpillars 
insects or other food sources there are drawing the birds. Anyone?

John and Sue Gregoire
5373 Fitzgerald Rd
Burdett, NY 14818-9626
"Conserve and Create Habitat"
N 42.44307 W 76.75784
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