I was surprised to observe just how many neotropic migrants were making an investment in time to forage among the Willow catkins in the spring. Apparently the Willow ranks second to the oaks for insect productivity through the year., but the birds already seemed to know this.
Willows have a long bud and flowering season and are available to a number of associated insects which feed on the abundant pollen and nectar. The insects that gather include caterpillars of moths and butterflies, leafrollers, borers, midges, gall gnats and others. Many of these insect associates have a long and evolved relationship with the Willows their attendance is not accidental. Completing the Willow associations are the many neotropic migrants who depend on the unfolding green wave feast for later breeding success.
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