27 species of birds foraging in one Avocado tree

Between 25 January and 11 March 2020, I mini-surveyed a tall Avocado tree in a backyard on the outskirts of Antigua (Sacatepéquez, Guatemala). In the morning hours, this tree attracted a (to my eyes) exceptional number of birds. To see how many species where using it as a feeding ground, I watched it on eleven days roughly between 7 and 9.30 a.m.. The tree at the edge of dry forest was in full bloom but had few leaves and no fruit (a quick google search on if birds do/can feed on Avocado fruits yielded conflicting results). Visiting birds fed on insects and – presumably – on the nectar of the flowers.

27 species were seen feeding directly on this one single tree. Ten more species were recorded in adjacent trees and bushes but a clear affiliation with the Avocado tree couldn’t be observed and 45 species were seen from the observation point in total (including raptors in the air etc.). At sunrise hardly any birds were foraging in the foliage, but as the sun hit the leaves around 8.30 a.m. and (supposedly) insects became active, the number of birds flying in from the surrounding forests grew quickly.

Highest within species totals included i.e. 10 Tennessee Warblers, 7 Western Tanagers, 6 Bushy-crested Jays, 5 Baltimore Orioles, 5 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, 3 Black-headed Saltators, 3 Townsend’s Warblers and 3 Wilson’s Warblers.

I wonder, if Avocado farms (which don’t have a great ecological reputation) also attract so many birds and species, or if pesticides make the trees there unattractive?

Complete List of Species
seen foraging in the Avocado Tree (27)

  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker
  • Smokey-brown Woodpecker
  • Bushy-crested Jay
  • Band-backed Wren
  • Rose-throated Becard
  • Clay-colored Thrush
  • Bar-winged Oriole
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • Great-tailed Grackle
  • Black-and-white Warbler
  • Tennessee Warbler
  • Nashville Warbler
  • Townsend’s Warbler
  • Black-throated Green Warbler
  • Wilson’s Warbler
  • Brown-capped Vireo
  • Yellow-throated Vireo
  • Blue-headed Vireo
  • Summer Tanager
  • Western Tanager
  • Blue-gray Tanager
  • Yellow-winged Tanager
  • Black-headed Saltator
  • Red-legged Honeycreeper
  • Indigo Bunting
  • Rose-breated Grosbeak
  • Black-capped Swallow (hunting insects close to the flowers)

Species in adjacent trees and bushes: Inca Dove, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Social Flycatcher, House Wren, Blue-and-white Mockingbird, Melodious Blackbird, Flame-colored Tanager, Slate-throated Redstart, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Azure-crowned Hummingbird

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