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Every fall around this time, I notice that Starlings are behaving like 
Chimney Swifts. They fly around high in the air where swifts usually fly, 
flutter their wings like swifts and apparently hawk insects like swifts. For 
most of the rest of the year they are ground feeders.

The appearance of swift-like Starling behavior in October usually coincides 
with the departure of Chimney Swifts, because I rarely see them together. 
Indeed, I have only seen one Chimney Swift in the last few days -- in 
downtown Kansas City. They were common in the air over Independence only a 
week ago.

I'm guessing that our swifts are now down around Joplin, or even further 
south.

Watching Starlings behave like swifts in October raises a number of 
questions for which I do not have answers.

Why is swift-like Starling behavior so noticeable only in October? If the 
insects are there for the swifts in summer, why don't Starlings go after 
them then too?

If airborne insects are so accessible in October that Starlings abandon 
their usual feeding habits to go after them, why don't the swifts hang 
around a little longer to enjoy the same feast?

Why do swifts, which arrive in April when it is still pretty cold, not 
winter in the southern states, which seem to be at least as swift-hospitable 
as northern states are in April? For that matter, why do swallows and bats 
(except for Tree Swallows, which will eat berries) also go below our 
southern border in winter?

Apparently,  there is more to it for an environment to be swift-friendly, 
swallow-friendly and/or bat-friendly, than the presence of insect food in 
the air.

Bob Fisher
Independence, Missouri
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