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The Whitehurst Diaries: A bit of a bird mystery and a Cat Watch

When little nest was saved from the curiosity of Bobby McGee, Nellie, and Edward, cat proprietors of the Whitehurst Place who discovered, there was a discovery for the Sharon Whitehurst and her daughter and son in law, an odd set of eggs - three small blue ones and a speckled gray one. The author is in need of an expert ornithologist's aid.
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By Sharon Whitehurst

I had tidied the kitchen after a family supper that included daughter Gina and her husband, Matt.

"Why are we in here when its so nice and cool on the front porch?' queried Matt.

We settled in the chairs on the porch, enjoying the scent of honeysuckle vine and watching Bobby McGee [one of last summer's 'drop-off' cats.] Bobby and his brothers, Nellie and Edward are confirmed bird watchers, who sometimes get carried away.

Bobby's head swiveled as tree swallows swooped in and out of the goat willow tree. A mother bird, small and anonymously grey-brown, perched on the electrical wire, two tiny fledglings teetering beside her.

Bobby's brother, Nellie, sauntered around from the side lawn, pounced half-heartedly on his brother, then strolled to the nandina bush at the south end of the porch and began to clamber up into the slender branches. Eyeing him with suspicion, I recognized a nest-shaped blur in the other side of the shrub.

I hauled Nellie out of the bush and carefully parted the leaves to reveal a small nest. Matt, being taller, gently tipped the branch downward to see if the nest was occupied.

"Hey," he said, "This is unusual; get your camera."

By the time I returned, camera in hand, Gina had dragged a bench from the porch and steadied it while Matt gave me a hand up.

The nest is a neat affair of twigs and dried vines, cozily lined with reddish hair which I have combed in abundance from Pebbles the Horse.

Three delicately blue eggs in the nest--and resting beside them but totally incongruous, a larger speckled egg.

My first thought for the intruder is 'cowbird.' A google search turns up photos of cowbird eggs which look very like the odd egg. I've not seen a bird which I recognize as a cowbird. The other species listed as nest stealers [starlings, mourning doves] have eggs which don't match the one in the nest--and I doubt we have cuckoos.

Perhaps some of the birdwatchers in the area could help with identification. Meanwhile, I'm back on cat watch!

This story was posted on 2013-05-30 20:16:43
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The Whitehurst Diaries: The case of the odd egg

2013-05-30 - Old Gradyville Road, Gradyville, KY - Photo by Sharon Whitehurst. Sharon Whitehurst is puzzled by the egg of an intruder in a bird's nest. Would like for an ornithologist to identify the odd egg in the four. While the blue eggs look a bit robin-ish, Sharon Whitehurst writes, "I'm if-y about identifying the nest as belonging to a robin - although there are plenty of those birds close by. This nest seems smaller and lacks the characteristic mud base. I was thinking cardinal...but I'm no expert. We have a variety of birds and the resident mocking birds mimic all of them. [I've even heard one of them say 'kitty, kitty, kitty." No wonder!]"
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