All Photos posted on this blog unless otherwise noted were taken by me with my Canon Rebel XTI using a 300 mm zoom lens

Sunday, July 3, 2011

July Bird of the Month Brown-headed Cowbird

There are some birds that seem to be infamous among humans, some hate Magpies, others hate Starlings, Gulls seem to have gained a bad reputation., Crows, Ravens and even Jays are spoken of unkindly by some people. The Great-tailed Grackle is considered a pest by many and then there is the Brown-headed Cowbird the "parasitical nester, too lazy to build it's own nest or to raise their own young. One thing all of these "infamous" birds have in common is that they are all successful. In other words they have learned to adapt to the encroachment of humans to their natural habitat.

The Brown-headed cowbird that once followed herds of Bison on the prairies ( that by the way is how they got their name) now frequents all kinds of habitats and are doing well.

It is true that Brown-headed Cowbirds do not build their own nests, they lay their eggs in the nests of other host birds from the tiny Kinglet to Meadowlarks. Some birds like the Yellow Warbler have learned to recognize the Cowbirds eggs and get rid of them or build a new nest on top of the intruder eggs. Other birds never notice that they are raising Cowbirds instead of their own offspring. These kinds of things sound so horrible to humans but for some reason that is the Cowbirds place in nature. I will not pretend to understand what niche the Cowbirds fill but I do know that nature left to its self is as it should be. So my choice of Bird of the Month for July 2011 is the Brown-headed Cowbird.
Like all Blackbirds the Brown-headed Cowbird is a handsome bird. The male is glossy black with a rich brown head that sometimes appears black but in the right light you can see the deep brown color.
The Female is a brownish gray color
At Antelope Island in the Great Salt lake you can still find Cowbirds following the Bison
Eating flying insects from the back of Bison
Every Spring I see groups of Cowbirds in the trees in my back yard. I don't know if they are looking for places to lay their eggs, I have Robins, Bullocks Orioles, House Finches, House Sparrows, Cedar Waxwings and Starlings nesting in or around my yard. They never hang around long just a short stop then on their way.

Cowbirds visiting my back yard.
There are many Brown-headed Cowbirds at Farmington Bay, they are summer residents, though I have occasionally seen them in the winter with flocks of Brewers Blackbirds.

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