Eastern Tent Caterpillars Are Thriving in Beidler Forest - Which Means the Birds Are, Too
Beidler Forest Audubon Center’s manager Matt Johnson said this is red-letter year for the larvae of the Eastern Tent Caterpillar. They were everywhere, the boardwalk was covered in frass, the polite word for insect poop, they were even falling on us from the trees! Although they covered with seta, hair-like bristles that sometimes cause serious skin irritation, these caterpillars are harmless to touch. Among the one hundred forty birds that spend all of part of their life at Beidler, are the yellow cuckoos. They sit by the nests of these caterpillars and gleefully strip the bristles off, devouring up to one hundred at a time. When startled by loud noises, such as thunder, they make a croaking sound, giving rise to the nickname rain crows. They lay eggs over a relatively long period of time; often depositing them in the nests of other birds.