Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Do The Funky Cowbird! "I Got Soul, And I'm Super Bad!"

     I am reposting this because the Dancing Cowbird showed up yesterday for the first time since I originally posted about them in 2010. I'm reposting to honor his dance and his shrill call. His girlfriend is here, too. The Cowbird's impressive display is well worth the re-read and view of these pictures.
     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.

These patio chairs have seen more action than a hotel mattress.

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.

Posted by Picasa


  1. Robin,
    The Late Great JB, AlLRIGHT!!!
    Great Cowbird Pix doing the Steps!


  2. "Shake your tail feathers!" Brown-Headed Cowbirds. But can you hula hoop?

  3. A smashing collage! You have single handedly restored the reputation of cowbirds world wide. And as for dropping the kids off at the sitter, well, who hasn't done that?

  4. Springman, Aint't that the truth, broth'a! Cowbirds invented daycare, another reason to give them their props.

  5. Well done Robin..loved this presentation.

  6. Blair Cessna commented on your post in Birders who Blog, Tweet and Chirp.
    Blair Cessna 9:41am Apr 6

    I like it....ya did good again Robin..

  7. Thanks, Debbie. Nice to have some music to lighten it up!

  8. Debbie Miller commented on your post in Birders who Blog, Tweet and Chirp.
    Debbie Miller 3:16pm Apr 6

    Really made me smile, great post!

  9. Dawn Simmons Fine 10:24am Apr 6

    Great post- can't see the video on my itouch - will check it out later :)

  10. Well, you got a crazy acting bird and he came to the right place. Just joking! Great series and post Robin.

  11. That's right, John. We birds of a feather like to stick together! Now admit it, you asked for that one! Ha! Thanks for the read and compliment.