Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nature is Not as Romantic as We'd Like to Think

Photo by Crispin Schroeder 

A couple of weeks ago my son spotted a bird’s nest up in a tree.  He became obsessed with wanting to see it up close so finally I let him stand on my shoulders to see inside.   What awaited him was a few blue eggs and one speckled egg.  I thought the combination a bit odd but then again what do I know about birds.  So I snapped a few pictures of this treasure of eggs and printed them out so he could tell his class about his very cool find. 

In the weeks the few weeks since we first found the nest Dina has been looking out our bedroom window several times a day to see if the momma bird is around.  The reality is that momma bird isn’t around very often but still Dina has no doubt envisioned stories of a momma working hard to take care of these eggs and the baby chicks which will be hatching shortly.  However a funny thing happened the other night.  I posted the latest picture on Facebook (seen here) of the nest which I took a few days ago and all sorts of people began speculating on the kind of eggs in the nest.  Many thought they were a type of bluebird or robin eggs but this didn’t match the bird we had seen.  So I did a little digging around and found a picture and bird profile online that looked almost exactly like the one I had taken. 
It seemed we had found a match… it was a cowbird.

This is where the story gets a little funny because as I began reading about cowbirds an interesting profile began to emerge.  Cowbirds are basically parasites.  They don’t build their own nests but they have good taste in nests usually opting for the well-crafted nests of robins or bluebirds.  A mother cowbird will fly around looking for a good nest and when she finds one, will wait for the blue bird or robin to lay a few eggs.  Then she will sneak up to the nest and lay her own egg in there and leave.  This, in and of itself, often runs off the blue birds.  Over time the cowbird will begin spending more and more time in the nest until she makes it her own at which point she will break the eggs of the robin or blue bird by pecking them with her beak or throwing them out of the nest. 

Well… so much for the romantic story of the hard working momma cowbird who is trying to raise up her young.  The real story is of a lazy momma bird who is a cold-blooded and opportunistic.  So we are going to try and rescue the blue eggs this week and bring them to the local feed and seed which I was told will incubate them until they hatch.  


Margaret said...

That is hysterical the romanticism of motherhood! I love it as I too am like Dina aw the hard working mother out gathering sticks, etc...only to find out it is a vagabond bird!

Pi Man said...

That IS cold blooded, Bro! Efficient, but cold blooded. BOO on the MOO bird. 8^) That's nice that you're taking the eggs to a place where they can hatch. Where we live, we watch the new birds run on the ground as the parental birds fly around, feed the little fella, and help it get into a bush or wherever when trouble comes near. We're always nervous that some animal will get the baby before it learns to fly. So far so good this season though!