raising Cowbirds

Last week I looked out our window that our bird feeding center is located at and saw a pair of Brown Headed Cowbirds and at first I thought, cool....then I thought, uh oh....I wonder who has their kids.

Cowbirds are parasitic nesters. That means that the female waits until an unsuspecting bird of another feather leaves the nest and she swoops in, removes one of that bird's eggs and lays her own. There are not many parasitic bird nesters...thank God...which I guess He made them that way...so go figure. The Cuckoo is the most famous one and oddly enough the Cuckoo female can actually make its eggs come out to resemble the host's eggs. That is remarkable and makes me wonder what I would have chosen my kids to look like.

So tonight our family was sitting on the living room floor playing "guess what's in the bag" that our kids collected from a nature walk at grandma's, and I heard a great deal of chipping. I looked out and saw a poor little Chipping Sparrow trying to keep up with feeding a bird nearly twice its size. You guessed it....the baby Cowbird. And I wondered where the little guy's other offspring were, but chances are they didn't make it because of the enormous energy going into feeding baby Huey. I watched this go on for a few minutes and then became disgusted by it.

So, I started to speculate on some deeper meaning behind this and only came up with ugly right-wing parallels of my tax dollars taking care of someone elses kids. I tried really hard at some sort of spiritual analogy....like God having adopted us Gentiles. But that was His choice, we didn't just show up in His nest, or did we? Maybe it's a picture of adoption or foster parents...but that comparison breaks down too.

So I don't have any deep insight into this. I only feel guilty now about shipping my kids off to their grandparents today with their big mouths to feed.


vanilla said…
I saw a pair of cowbirds enjoying their life of ease--no responsibilities--in my yard and I, too, wondered who was caring for their progeny.

I can't come up with an analogy better than the one you propose.

But then, we are all God's creatures, responsible or not.

Great picture, btw.
hoosier reborn said…
not my picture...but hey, thanks!
Anonymous said…
The cowbird range did not include much of Indiana until the forests were cleared for farming. Since cowbirds actually followed buffalo herds they could not raise a family and keep up with a moving buffalo herd. Thus the parasitic behavior. Kind of like sending kids off to military school to be "raised" so the folks can continue to play!!!!
hoosier reborn said…
I never thought about following the herd. Literally.

It reminds me of a comment on the tour bus yesterday when someone from California asked why there were these patches of forests among the fields and I said the question should be why are there fields among the forests. Lightbulbs went off.

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