Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbirds are considered to be a bit of a pest.  They are brood parasites, meaning they lay their eggs in other species nests and leave the work of raising them to the host parents.  Ornithologists point out that this behavior was beneficial for their nomadic life-style. Before the arrival of Europeans and their cattle, BHCO followed the bison herds across the plains eating the insects that the bison stirred up as they grazed.  Most host birds don’t notice the difference in the egg, even when they are considerably larger than their own, and feed the hatchling, even to the detriment of their own offspring, as the cowbird hatchlings are much more aggressive. There are some birds, such as thrashers and catbirds, that can tell the eggs apart and dump them from the nest or abandon the nest entirely.  If the egg does happen to hatch they will push the hatchling out the nest.  About half of the time that the intruders are detected and disposed of,  the cowbird female will return the nest and either lay another or destroy the eggs of the host. Often they will destroy the entire nest.  This is termed Mafia Behavior, although it is not actually a punitive action, but a move too force the hosts into starting another nest and family so that the cowbird has an opportunity to lay another egg. I guess their cleverness makes them feel a bit superior-they always seem to have their beaks up in the air when I see them.

Brown-headed Cowbird (4) (1024x656)

This is a juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird, I think.  It could be a female, but the white throat makes me think it is a juve.  Of course I could be totally wrong and it is a completely different species.  That happens to me a lot, even now.

Brown-headed Cowbird juvenile (5) (1024x710)

He saw me.

Brown-headed Cowbird juvenile (9) (1024x736)






Brown-headed Cowbird juvenile (4) (1024x642)


While taking photos of the juvenile cowbird (it was my nose up in the air this time,) I got close enough to this guy to get a rather stern warning.Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (6) (1024x684) Turns out I can jump an amazingly long way backwards, off of one foot.

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