Only about 20 percent of tree swallows survive the first year, but even for birds older than one year, the mortality rate is still high – about 50 percent per year. The trees swallow is native to Massachusetts yet cold weather causes it the most deaths, whether from a sudden spring snowstorm or a simple chill that leads to starvation from lack of insects to eat.
The first butterfly you probably see each year – and the one you see the most frequently in the summer and fall – is the cabbage white, which has grown abundant and widespread on a diet of vegetables such as cabbage, kale, bok choy, turnips, radishes, horseradish and broccoli.
Not since the demise of the passenger pigeon has a species declined so rapidly – and the little brown bat is not a species humans want to lose. One bat alone can eat 600 insects an hour, which means they eat thousands of mosquitoes, moths and night-flying insects each night.
Red-winged blackbirds are omnivores, eating insects, fruit, corn and farmer’s grain, among other things. During breeding season, the territorial males perch up high, ready to mob any intruder no matter the size, dive bombing and pecking hard. It is not too surprising that the birds have acquired enemies.
There are no longer alewives in the brook named after them, and populations have declined throughout much of the Eastern Seaboard due to overfishing in the ocean, dams, drought and habitat loss. But with good management practices, we may once again return to days they’re seen “in such multitudes as is almost incredible.”