I have several people ask about Cowbirds. I personally call them home wreckers. They are an unlikely looking villain with a brown head. The female is more gray. The Cowbird is a vagabond that once followed bison and cattle through the plains, but as forest barriers fell to the settler’s ax, they extended their ranges. I notice them a lot in our cattle herd, sitting on the backs of the cattle eating the flies. Very common for this to happen.
Since the life of a rover has no room for home and family, female cowbirds deposit their eggs in the nests of other birds like Redwing Blackbirds, and other tree nesting birds, and then leave the care of their young to the unlucky foster parents. Sometimes, when left in that nest of a smaller bird, the cowbird babies are much bigger than the others and out competes its nestmates for food and space. When fledged the young cowbirds join roving cowbird flocks, which I think is a mystery. How do they know what kind of bird they are? LOL.
Because the cowbird needs open spaces for feeding and access to woodland tracts for breeding, housing developments, highways and the like have opened the way for their expansion. They can run off other species.
The females lay 10-12 eggs white with brown specks each laid in the nest of another species, warblers, blackbirds, vireos, finches, and small flycatchers preferred. Incubation by the host bird is about 12 days. Young will leave the nest in 10 days after hatching. They are slightly smaller than a black bird with stout dark, Sparrow like bills, and a short tail. They often forage on the ground with other blackbirds and starlings. They like tall grasses, woodland edges, thickets, roadsides and towns for habitat. They forage on grain, seeds, berries and insects.
My trails have been so very damp, hard to even mow, all bluebird babies have fledged that made it past the raccoons or other varmints. I am hoping for a good second hatch, and see how that one goes. Strangely enough, I have had one pair in the front yard in a cavity in one of my older trees hatch out a nice hatch, and they are flying now, as are all my Chipping Sparrows. Wrens are also sitting on the eggs, and babies are hatching. I love their song.
Thankfully, we have not had much rain for the past week and some farmers have been in the fields day and night. Pray for them. Until next time, good birdwatching.