How Now Brown Cow .....................bird

This very shy and nervous little bird has a nest in the Euonymus shrub on the gate leading to our neighbor’s yard. The shrub is under three towering maple trees that are well over 100 years old. It's very secluded and shady.

I sat quietly on a step-stool and got cramps in my bum in order to capture this picture. (Yes – we bought a new camera after I dropped the old worthless out of date prehistoric model that the lens clicked about a second after you pushed the button and I don’t feel so mad at myself anymore.) She was camera shy and faster than the shutter speed. Sorry it isn't very clear.

My contact at the Audubon Society has confirmed it is a Song Sparrow. They are supposedly a very common bird across the country, but they have physical differences depending on where you live. That is probably why I thought it was a Lincoln’s Sparrow. (The native birds are not as common as are the imported house sparrows and Starlings. Bullies)

What attracted me to this bird, besides the dainty flitting and sweet singing, was the presence of a larger bird that was acting like a baby. Baby Huey didn’t fly very well, and would hide inside the branches chirping oddly until the petite mother would come and feed it. I have several feeders in the back yard so it wasn’t hard keeping track of her grocery list.

Enquiring minds wanted to know – and mine was not the least bit happy when Mr. Audubon told me that the other bird was “the great nest parasite known as the Brown-headed Cowbird.” His words not mine.

I recalled seeing a few cowbirds hanging around my feeder earlier this spring. They are notorious for laying one big egg in some little birds nest that will hatch and drop kick the true offspring out.

Mommy seems unaware of the difference. She is unwavering in her singing, and he responds in a squeaky gurgle. She is persistent in the gathering of nourishment, and the little doppelganger is relentless in his feeding frenzy.

I almost wish I hadn’t noticed.


Karmyn R said…
That is so sad...I remember learning about those villians in College - but, if you want to look on the bright side - that little Song Sparrow is a Foster Mother now.

(At least the Starlings are up front about nest stealing, heh?)
Walker said…
I see the big lugs at my feeder, but I think it is cool you actually have seen a cowbird in the nest. That's kind of rare. I see the mom sparrows feeding their babies on the ground all summer. I feel like yelling "Get a job" to those big fat sparrow babies, shaking and whining for a seed!
Anonymous said…
I didn't know they did that.

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