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Saturday, July 10, 2010

May 28th 2010, Caratunk Audubon, Seekonk, MA 11-12:30pm overcast 74'

Today we had a small but interesting list of birds including a Blue-Winged Warbler and a Wood Duck. But by far the most amusing behavior came when we spotted an Eastern Phoebe hunting for insects in the long grass but instead of eating them the bird was bringing it to a begging Brown-Headed Cowbird! It was quite obvious what had happened, a female cowbird had followed the time honored ritual of being a nest parasite. The poor phoebe (the cowbird female had chosen) believed that this was her or his only chick which had survived.

Here is a part of a post I wrote earlier this year. "The Brown-Headed Cowbird, like the Common Cuckoo, is famous for being a nest parasite which means that they go around removing an egg from a nest (mostly Warblers I think) laying their eggs in the other eggs place. But that is not the worst of it. They lay their eggs just at the right time so that their chick will hatch a little while before the nest owner's eggs (at least I think that is the case) so that the mother bird will feed it first making the Cowbird bigger and stronger than his newly hatched nest mates. The mother's instincts tell her to feed the strongest nestling which ends up being the Cowbird. The other birds won't get enough to survive and will slowly starve to death. This is one of the main threats to the Kirtlands Warbler, one of the most endangered warblers in America. Some people kill Cowbirds for this reason. Luckily some birds will remove the strange egg from the nest while others will build a nest on top of the Cowbird's egg. Some birds will even desert the nest. What a harsh world birds live in".

We also saw a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, an American Robin, an Eastern Towhee singing his distinctive "TOW-o-EEEEEEE" (trill on the eeeee), a Yellow Warbler, a Grey Catbird, and many Barn and Tree Swallows. Carolina and House Wrens were fighting but I couldn't exactly see what they were doing so they could have been mobbing something in the trees. A Great-Blue Heron went flying over head, he had his bill open maybe he was catching flies or calling quietly as he lazily flew above.

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