Yesterday was an important day for us for a different reason, too: It was the twelve anniversary of the day my husband and I met. Yes, we recognize that occassion, like high school kids that count the days in their relationships. "Davie and I have been going steady for four thousand three hundred and eighty days!" David gave to me a stunning, silver necklace. It's huge and gaudy and wonderful. Dancing and singing, he presented it to me like a hopped up Cowbird trying to impress his mate. I was Weeding For Dollars and quite filthy looking not unlike the humble female Cowbird. However, I donned the bodacious bobble immediately. I told him,
"You are the stars in my sky,
You are my ultimate high,
In your smiling face so sweet,
You are my life complete"
A new resident at our house this year has been a pair of Brown-headed Cowbirds. We've never had them before this year. This male perches on the backs of our patio chairs and does an elaborate dance to his own reflection in the windows. He looks like he's groovin' the the 80's disco tunes of James Brown - "I've got soul and I'm super bad!!!!" But, it's just classic Cowbird courtship behavior.Cowbirds are kleptoparasites. That is, they steal from other birds for their own gain. Eagles are kleptoparasites, too. They steal food, such as fish, from other birds. Cowbirds steal nests.
In fact, they don't even make nests of their own at all! They lay eggs in the nests of other birds. Then, the host bird raises the Cowbird chicks after they hatch, often at their own loss. Cowbird chicks are often bigger than the host bird's own chicks and shove them out of the nest or simply demand more food than the host bird chicks, which starve.
Because Cowbirds don't have to take care of their young, they lay a lot of eggs in a season, sometimes as many as thirty. That requires a lot of mating, thus the action on our patio chairs. This guy is also noisy about it. I always know where he is in the yard because of his high pitched, nearly electronic sounding call. Cowbirds are north American natives hailing from the grasslands. However, their numbers have increased dramatically as we've cut down trees and made more open land. They like feeding on the ground, so if you have spilled seed or livestock, you're likely to have Cowbirds. I have neither, so I'm not sure why we've got them now. Because they have threatened some endangered species of birds with their nest hogging, some regard them as nuisance birds. I can't help but admire this guy's antics and wonderful iridescent feathers, even if I know better. Give me a muscled guy on a mechanical bull ride in a bar and I'm a goner.
For more info on Cowbirds and to hear their calls and songs, click on these links:
Brown Headed Cowbird
Thanks to Wikipedia for some of the information, as well.