Estuary Explorers Quiz – Question #4

Wetland Birds

Which of these species have fish in their diet?

The Least tern, black-crowned night heron, osprey, snowy egret, belted kingfisher, and the great blue heron all have fish in their diet.

Wetland Bird Diets:

  • Belding’s savannah sparrow (State Endangered) – beetles, grasshoppers, and other bugs, as well as spiders, millipedes, pillbugs, seeds, tiny crustaceans and the tips of pickleweed.
  • Least tern (State and Federally Endangered)- Mainly small fish, sometimes invertebrates.
  • Marbled godwit – mollusks, marine worms, crustaceans, other invertebrates.
  • Least sandpiper – small invertebrates such as amphipods, isopods, gastropods, horseshoe crab eggs, water fleas, midges and flies, beetles, dragonflies, and seeds from marsh grasses.
  • American wigeon – Mostly aquatic plants; some insects and mollusks during the breeding season.
  • Black-crowned night heron – While they feed on mostly fish, black-crowned night herons are opportunistic feeders that eat many kinds of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine animals. Their diet includes leeches, earthworms, insects, crayfish, clams, mussels, fish, amphibians, lizards, snakes, turtles, rodents, birds, and eggs. They also eat carrion, plant materials, and garbage from landfills.
  • Killdeer – Mostly insects. Feeds on a wide variety of insects, including beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, fly larvae, many others; also eats spiders, earthworms, centipedes, crayfish, snails. Eats small amounts of seeds as well.
  • Short-billed dowitcher – Mostly small aquatic invertebrates. On breeding grounds eats fly larvae, other insects, snails, and some seeds.
  • Osprey – Almost entirely fish. Typically feeds on fish 4-12″ long, that swim close to the surface. The type of fish involved varies with region;  stripped mullet is popular locally. On very rare occasions, Ospreys have been observed feeding on fish carcasses or on birds, snakes, voles, squirrels, muskrats, and salamanders.
  • American avocet – Mostly small crustaceans and insects, also some seeds.
  • Great blue heron – Almost anything they can fit down their gullet. Their diet is highly variable and adaptable. They mostly eat fish, but also frogs, salamanders, turtles, snakes, insects, rodents, birds. They Have  been documented stalking ground squirrels, voles and gophers in fields, capturing rails at edge of marsh, and eating many species of small water birds.
  • Belted kingfisher – Belted Kingfishers live mostly on a diet of small fish. They also eat crayfish and may eat other crustaceans, mollusks, insects, amphibians, reptiles, young birds, small mammals, and even berries.
  • Snowy egret – Eats mostly aquatic animals, including fish, frogs, worms, crustaceans, and insects, but may also feed on snakes, snails, lizards, and rodents.