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Witnessing a callous cowbird act

Bizarro Mother's Day event in Bird World
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By Ed Waggener

We didn't crab our cameras while the egg-napping was underway, we we all saw it and remembered recent postings about brood parasitic birds.

While enjoying a pleasant day and iced tea on the carporch at Tillie's House with Bob Chelf, Pen and Tom, we saw a gray bird fly up to one of at least four Wild Pet nests Teresa and Tom have let become a part of the family. It looked like a parental visit, but we notice that the bird flew out with a beautiful light blue egg, and left it in the grass.

Then it occurred to all of us what we had witnessed. A cowbird usurping a Robin's Nest. When we climbed up the ladder for photo's expecting to see a mixture of robin's and cowbird eggs, we were surprised to see there were none.

Maybe we'll get a follow-up from Tillie, though for the moment she's entered the fortnight before her birthday, and, as is the the Marcum tradition, observance commence two weeks before the actual birthday and and continues for two weeks thereafter - so she's in birthday, not ornithology mode.

Some deep research into the subject of cowbirds' wicked ways was found rereading the Whitehurst diaries. It can be read by clicking to The Whitehurst Diaries: A bit of a bird mystery and a Cat Watch, an indepth essay replete with a photo of a blended bird family nest, suspect parasite: Cowbird.

And, for a Perp Species Portrait, click to

This story was posted on 2014-05-11 08:27:13
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Birds of KY: Of Birds & Bikes & Carolina Wrens

2014-05-05 - Shelby County, KY - Photo by Ed Waggener. Until the parent Carolina Wren gets used to human neighbors, it isn't a very good photographic subject. Little by little, they become more comfortable, and some bird whisperers have developed ways to get these and other birds to eat out of their hands. What they are: They're very innovative and opportunistic nest builders. This wren family is ensconced in the Lazer bicycle helmet. Bird talk on the carporch was that wrens have even been known to build nests in drying clothes on clothes line. And talk was first of the bird habits as being that of unwelcome guests, and the problems humankind has in segregating living quarters and how to keep them away. But in every personal instance of avian invasion, everyone agreed they had first permitted squatters right, and then became involved in the birds family lives - finding wild pets the best. Some even name each baby, knowing all the while that the short lives of many species can be filled with heartbreak - as well as great joy. From the appreciative nursery audio, the Lazer wren babies seem quite happy. From the yard and the landing areas, the parents teakettle-teakettle songs may have been lunch time wake up calls. For the skinny see: All-About Birds: Carolina Wren
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Birds of KY: A bizarro Mothers Day tale

2014-05-11 - Shelby County, KY - Photo by Ed Waggener. A robin in Tillie's backyard may have been one of her kind whose nest had just been violated by a marauding cowbird. As numerous as they are, and as admirable as they are in so many ways, one wonders if they aren't a little bird brained to allow cowbirds to egg-nap at will, then be duped into raising the cowbird's children.
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Birds of KY: A bizarro Mothers Day tale - Robins' nest

2014-05-11 - Shelby County, KY - Photo by Pen . It was a pleasant surprise to see left one of at least four temporary bird residences with occupants who had become part of the family. The robin's nest, was pretty in its own right. Two Carolina wren's nest on a tool shelf - with one in a bike helmet, had skittish little birds who were becoming people tolerant. We had all recently came up almost to speed on the devious practice of cowbirds and other brood parasitic types when we witness a cowbird in the act, carrying away a beautiful blue egg from the nest. In the right frame, all that was left was an empty nest.
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