Daily Photo – Birth Mother

By Heather / April 28, 2020
Brown-headed Cowbird

Yesterday at the birdbath there appeared not one brown-headed cowbird but two.

Why am I telling you this?

Because… I wasn’t very happy.

Now, most birds I welcome into my backyard giving them food and water but it’s hard to be selective about the birds you bring in.

First, there are the starlings in the spring that if I allowed them to feed at the suet feeder they would nest nearby and overrun the backyard.

Next are the stellar jays that come in the fall and eat everything they can get their beaks on.

I have to put a mesh over all the feeders so the little birds can get in but the jays stay out and once there is no food for them, they leave.

During the summer I get band-tailed pigeons that are fairly large birds (think crows) and they come in flocks scattering all the little birds and literally covering the ground.

Haven’t figured out a way to deal with them yet as not much seems to bother them except fast movements.

But cowbirds have their own unique problem.

You see they are birth mothers.

Not mothers that raise their chick and behave like most birds, these glossy feathered fowl are actually parasitical in nature.

And they put their children up for adoption.

When you think about it, it really is amazing.

They watch other birds and find where they are laying their eggs and then go and lay some of their own.

As they can lay up to three dozen a summer, this can transpire into a lot of baby cowbirds.

Once the cowbird lays its eggs in another bird’s nest it just goes about its business leaving the nest maker in charge of bringing up their chick.

I have watched a wilson’s warbler (half the size of the cowbird chick) spend the afternoon trying to feed this big fledgling.

The warbler thought it was its own chick and was trying to do its best to raise it.

The cowbird egg hatches earlier than most eggs leaving it to be the dominant chick and it will peck at or even smother the nest owner’s own chicks.

It does this so it has a better chance of survival and will grow to adulthood.

Some birds like the yellow warbler can tell when an egg isn’t their own and although they are too small to push the egg out of the nest, they leave it there and build another nest on top of it.

Other birds will peck the egg or toss it out but most birds don’t seem to know the difference.

You know… it’s funny.

I love birds.

All shapes, sizes and colours.

But it’s interesting how I can be so judgemental against a bird that is merely doing what it was meant to do.

Just because I don’t relate to its natural instincts doesn’t mean I should be condoning it.

Like the starlings, jays and pigeon I’ve been trying to control my backyard environment.

Not realizing that when you try and control something along with that comes stress.

Always being on your guard to defend the little birds from the bigger bullies.

Like a watchdog ever vigilant watching over the flock.

On the other hand, if you consistently do that nothing new would happen.

I wouldn’t have seen the cowbird sitting on the birdbath and as I have only seen one in my yard before it was a lovely sight until my prejudice kicked in.

I do love seeing new birds being attracted to my yard and try and make it as bird-friendly as possible.

So why turn some away when I don’t like their mannerisms and looks.

Conclusion: My yard is open to all birds and I shall delight in all who choose to take sanctuary here, with a caveat.

I’m only human and I’m sure there will be moments when judgment rears its head again.

It’s up to me to recognize it and adapt.


Jigsaw Puzzle

If you need help with instructions click here.

Leave a comment: