Saturday, May 9, 2015

One of these is not like the other...look what I found!

In my prior posts, I talked about the Redpoll nest in my purple hanging basket on our front porch.  I bought the baskets specifically to try and get some birds nesting in them.    

Yes, anytime I find a nest in our yard, I like to carefully monitor it.  It's fun to count how many eggs have been laid and seeing the newly hatched babies too.  Did you know many birds only lay one egg a day until her nest is full?  A typical female lays between 3 and 5 eggs. 

I don't want to interfer or handle the nest, but yesterday I took a closer look:

Yup, 3 redpoll eggs and 1 cowbird egg.

The Cowbird wiki describes the process:
Cowbirds feed on insects, including the large numbers that may be stirred up by cattle. In order for the birds to remain mobile and stay with the herd, they have adapted by laying their eggs in other birds' nests. The cowbird will watch for when its host lays eggs, and when the nest is left unattended, the female will come in and lay its own eggs. The female cowbird may continue to observe the nest after laying her eggs. If the cowbird egg is removed, the female cowbird may destroy the host's eggs.

The above photo shows problems that can happen when cowbirds lay an egg in another bird's nest.  See how much bigger the cowbird baby is compared to the baby wrens?

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