There is an Eastern Towhee family in the shrubbery at the foot of a native dogwood (Atlanta’s iconic flowering tree) in our yard. I’ve seen this fledgling out begging her\his parents for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks between meals. Being one of the 96% of the songbird species that need almost exclusively insect protein to make it to adulthood, this little gal/fella is going to need a few thousand bugs.
His\her diet needs to be filled with protein rich arthropods, with caterpillars being a favorite – soft, juicy, & protein rich, a kind of natural Gerbers without the nasty green peas.
When this fledgling, and siblings\cousins, reach adulthood they will be able to digest plant material and will become a common sight at our feeders. In the meantime, feeders are providing a subsidy meal plan for the parents. They will stop in to grab a seed for their own nutrition before getting back to the business of feeding their young the caterpillars. The sacrifices parents make.
Eastern Towhees are sparrows and spend a lot of their foraging time ‘two foot kicking’ insects out of the leaves on the ground or gleaning them off leaves in the trees. This takes a lot of energy so they concentrate on trees and shrubbery that have a high density of hosted insects. You got it, natives. They don’t even bother with gingkos or bradford pears. Landscapes planted with them for their fast growth & ornamental flowers are bird ‘food deserts’.