I monitored the temporal pattern of diurnal feeding activity in several wood warbler (Parulidae) species and concomitantly recorded the numbers of active (flying) insects in 2 willow habitats in the western United States. At one site the temporal relationship between the density of active and inactive (nonflying) insects was investigated. The diurnal patterns of insect and bird activity were inversely related and each pattern was significantly nonuniform throughout the day; the wood warblers were largely inactive during the middle of the day when insects were most active.
As foliage-gleaning birds, wood warblers depend primarily on the availability of inactive (nonflying) insects that they pick from the foliage, and they appear to be limited in their foraging activity by the unavailability of such insects during midday. Interestingly, the duration of midday inactivity for a given bird species varied inversely with the proportion of time that species spent flycatching. Thus, food availability may play an important role in determining the temporal patterns of feeding activity in these insectivorous bird species.