Monday, May 21, 2012

Kim's Birds

My friend Kim has some new houseguests this spring. This first nest is was built in the arbor leading from her patio to the backyard. Yes, was. When I talked to her Friday night she told me the eggs had hatched. Saturday afternoon she called again. "The nest is gone! Not just the birds, the entire nest!" We suspect a raccoon made off with it.

As you can see, someone thought Mama Bird would make a good surrogate. Those large, brown-speckled ones are cowbird eggs. Cowbirds do not build their own nests. They are a nomadic species that typically followed herds of bison or cattle (or so it is believed by some naturalists), living off of the parasites drawn to the bovine species. Since they followed the herds, they couldn't set their own nests, so laid their eggs in the nests of other birds. Some species of birds will kick the eggs out of their nests, others will simply abandon the nest and lay new eggs. Robins usually reject cowbird eggs, but even if the egg is allowed to hatch, the chick rarely survives. Chicks that do survive can bully and kill the smaller birds.


This is the nest from the front, built on one of the roof supports of the porch--actually between that and the house. We are not sure what kind of bird laid these white eggs (maybe a finch or sparrow?), as it is difficult to get a look at Mama. She flees anytime someone comes near--even when a car pulls into the driveway! Definitely not a robin, though, based on the pale-colored eggs. Again, a cowbird has laid an egg in someone else's nest.


Alice Audrey said...

Looks like you've got a cowbird infestation going on. I have more sympathy for the cowbird than for cuckoos, though.

Heather said...

Yes, there are a ton of cowbirds around here. I checked the nest at work today and was happy to see that there were no cowbird eggs in that one. I think that nest should be hatching some time this week. Will have to try and get pics of the babies when they are born.

Jana said...

Huh. I learn something new every day... ;-)

Heather said...

Jana: Happy to educate. :-D

CountryDew said...

I have never heard of cowbirds. If so many of their eggs never hatch, I wonder how abundant the bird is.