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Thread subject: Cowbirds
Name Date Message
Pam 06/15/10 09:10 am So....which of you North Americans get Cowbirds? I had never even heard of them until I saw what I thought was a blackbird on the Race Rocks cam last month, only to discover it was a Brown-headed cowbird. I looked them up and found so much interesting information on their habits. The female lays up to 40 eggs in a seaon, laying her own egg in any host nest she can find, turfing one of the host birds eggs out in the process - rather like our English cuckoo. According to my Collins, only two had been seen in Europe, one in Norway and one in England. BUT....now one has appeared in somebody's back garden in Cumbria, causing quite a stir in the bird world here in UK. Apparently they are regarded as real pests in North America.
Pictures here - scroll to Page 7.
Race Rocks - May
Celeste 06/15/10 10:15 am I get cowbirds in my yard all the time. I have read that they lay up to 80 eggs per nesting season!

Found this also...
"Populations of Brown-headed Cowbirds are increasing at an alarming rate in many regions. Because they are brood parasites, they are a particular threat to populations of many other species of birds, especially endangered species such as Kirtland's Warbler. Arguably, reduction of Brown-headed Cowbird populations would be of benefit to many other songbird and gamebird species. "

Once again thanks for th Race Rocks photos:)
Pam 06/15/10 11:02 am That's interesting to know Celeste ...80 eggs? I wonder why I had not heard of them before. Maybe like our commons garden birds they are not considered worthy of a mention. Apparently they got their name because they were known for following the buffalo, picking insects disturbed by the herds. Since the demise of the great herds they have had to adapt to other food sources. I would think if they managed to secure a foothold in UK that they would soon proliferate - plenty of easy pickings in our urban gardens.
Lori 06/15/10 11:40 am I have cow birds too, Never pay them much never-mind, for me they're down there with grackles & starlings. Didn't realize they were such multiple egg layers. But knew they were nest stealers....
FOB Webmaster 06/15/10 04:08 pm Yeah, we have cowbirds in the Mid-Atlantic. They've been known to use the nests of more than 200 other bird species. They ain't picky.
Melanie 06/15/10 04:09 pm I've got them in Maryland as well as does my mother up in Massachusetts. If she finds cowbird eggs in any of her nesting boxes she pulls them out. Don't know if that is legal or not since they are probably protected under the Migratory Bird Act but is sure keeps the pressure off the smaller birds who have to feed a bottomless pit.
Shelley 06/15/10 06:56 pm Funny story: I was looking out my front window one day (last summer or the summer before, can't remember) and noticed a small bird feeding what looked like a larger bird. Upon closer inspection (ie, binocs), I see it's a chipping sparrow, feeding a baby cowbird! I nicknamed him Baby Moo and watched day after day as he padded around the lawn, following mama Chippy. She was half his size but kept feeding him and he kept following her. I have a bunch of photos that I snapped, through my screen. I don't have a great zoom but when I open the front door, they all scatter and fly away. It was pretty funny.
martyc35 06/15/10 06:58 pm I haven't seen any since leaving Santa Rosa, but we had a lot of them there. They liked to hang out with starlings and red-winged blackbirds and liked parking lots and other paved surfaces, I'm not sure why.
marty
cathy 06/15/10 08:28 pm Cowbirds are in Washington State.
Pam 06/16/10 06:41 am Thanks everyone....love your funny story Shelley. Strange that I had NEVER heard of cowbirds before. Most people here in UK would give you a blank look if you asked them too, but then, a lot of them have never heard of Loons either..
martyc35 06/16/10 12:44 pm Finally got a few minutes to look at RR, Pam. Thanks so much for that. All the springtime activity, even the human, is lovely to look at. Remember my mentioning the family of Robert Louis Stevenson, who built most of the lighthouses in the UK? Well, you have a capture of the kind of lenses they found and employed. The Fresnel lenses were invented and imported during their tenure in the 1800s. Nice to see some are still being used.
marty
Pam 06/16/10 06:21 pm Yes, they have amazing magnification of the beam Marty. There is a lot of interesting history of the light on the website.
Not much happening there at RR today...

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