Many of our diurnal and nocturnal animals will both have similar ecological niches. Think of a niche as a job someone (human) might have in the grocery store. Many employees that work in this grocery store have a specific duty and specialties in getting their job done. One employee might be the butcher and makes sure the meat isn’t spoiled or is always sliced the same way. Another employee will have the duty of keeping the fruit fresh and knows everything that needs to be known about the fruit they are selling. Some grocery stores have seafood departments, bakeries and even a pharmacy. By everyone working together will provide a location for us making choices in what we eat. Animals also have jobs and their “ecological niche” which keeps them from competing for food but still allows many species to live together in the same habitat. For example, nuthatches walk upside down on the tree to pull out insects that they can see under the bark (which other birds easily overlook). Walking upside down is their ecological niche!
There are also some animals that have the same “ecological niche” but do not compete for food because one is a diurnal hunter and the other is a nocturnal hunter. Some examples would be the Kestrel vs. Screech Owl. Both live in similar habitats, both live in nest boxes and both eat smaller insects. Great Horned Owl vs. Red-tailed Hawk are two other species who share similar nesting territories; both feed on small mammals and are about a similar sized. Those are some obvious examples but we neglect to talk about our smaller critters. Take for example, the ground feeding birds vs. mice who are looking for bugs and seeds that have fallen on the ground.
Bats are nocturnal mammals that fly around and feed on flying insects that they find using their sonar. Their diurnal partners would be the chimney swifts who are always up high searching for flying insects. Both animals are champion fliers and have adapted over time to using buildings as their after hours residence. Bats can climb into the smallest crevice, under tiles and even under shingles to hide during daylight hours. The Chimney Swift is unique because they have tiny feet (since they never land) and will build a nest or roost in a chimney they find. Here in Allegany State Park the Administration Building is perfect area for housing both the bats and Chimney Swifts because it is very old with many small crevices and multiple large chimneys. In years past at dusk you could watch several hundreds of Chimney Swifts entering the chimneys and then watch several hundred bats leaving numerous small crevices in search of their insects! It all happens within a matter of a half hour and one of the most amazing things I have ever seen (which we call the changing of the guards).
Chimney Swift Nest is put together by a glue-link substance they secrete from their salivatory glands.
Today around lunch time I saw my first Chimney Swifts for 2007 (CHECK)!! The half a dozen birds were doing courtship displays and just I knew it would only be a matter of time till they arrive back in Western New York.