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Wendy Burt: Odd egg is likely that of brown-headed cowbird

She would remove the egg, she says, if it were on her property. Cowbirds are significant threat to other more desirable birds
About: The Whitehurst Diaries: A bit of a bird mystery and a Cat Watch

By Wendy Butler Burt

This "odd" egg most likely is that of the brown-headed cowbird.

The cowbird, known as a parasitic nester, never raises its own young but lays its eggs in the nests of other birds.


Cowbird nestlings often are larger and hungrier than the "real" nestlings so they outcompete their nest mates and have been known to eject other nestlings from the nest.

It is believed that the parasitic habit evolved when cowbirds followed herds of bison. Since bison always were on the move, the birds did not have time to raise their young to maturity and, so, left their eggs for other birds to raise.

Cowbird nestlings have become a significant threat to some bird species, especially many warblers whose numbers already have been greatly reduced due to habitat loss and other factors.

If this nest were on my property, I would remove the cowbird egg. --Wendy Butler Burt


This story was posted on 2013-05-31 07:29:51
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