Sunday, January 10, 2010

Brown-headed Cowbird - Murderer

From Lee's Birdwatching Website

If you were a bird, you wouldn’t want to become friends with this Brown-head Cowbird. No sir-ree, Buckaroo. It would exploit you to no end! Cowbirds are users and movers, especially when it comes to moving with cattle. They received their name due to the fact they feast on bugs flushed from the grasses of grazing cattle and buffalo. They know how to get an easy and cheap meal.

Brown-headed Cowbirds are aves belonging to the genus Molothrus in the family Icteridae. They are brood parasitic New World birds. (Parasitic involves taking advantage of the hospitality of another or others without providing any proper return. Birds of certain species, known as hosts, will raise the young of other birds—including Cowbirds.)

Brown-headed “Cowgirl” birds will take hosting advantage of songbirds by laying eggs in their nests, which enables them to remain mobile and secured to a herd of cattle. No female Cowbird has been known to build a nest and brood her own young, therefore this appears to be the original way God created her. She believes her only duty is to place her eggs in a nest where her chicks will receive proper care. Cowbird mothers seem to detect that small songbirds are quite receptive. Usually she will implement small Sparrow nests—placing one egg in each nest.

To explain the process, the calculating female Cowbird will locate a potential host by perching in a location that has a great view during the early morning hours. She will observe the behavior of possible host females that are building nests.  Get lots of information on birds at Lee's Birdwatching Adventures website.

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