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Hungry Cowbird and Beauty

Cowbird June 6, 2013

Yesterday morning I watched what I later confirmed was a cowbird being fed by another  bird. I just happened to look out the front window and there was this little bird (fully fledged) standing still and looking around while another bird, a different type of bird, much the same size was running around picking up insects from the lawn and bringing them over to the cowbird. Through the window I couldn’t hear the cowbird squawking, or whining piteously, but I could see its little beak opening and shutting, until its meal was brought to it.  I could almost imagine it tapping its tiny claw, wondering what was taking so long.

Out came the bird guide book. I knew that  cowbirds were famous for laying their eggs in another bird’s nest, and that the foster parents cared for that interloper as well as they could, as it grew bigger faster than their own brood. I never dreamed that the cowbird could stand around in its fledged adolescence and still get its foster parents to keep feeding it. It was quite a fascinating sight.  This sort of behavior is called brood parasitism.

Ordinarily, I would not trust my own ability to identify a bird but my Peterson’s Guide does describe this feeding behavior between cowbirds and other birds as a common phenomenon.

Tree peony – name lost

On a more serenely beautiful note, my white tree peony, that has endured various bouts of storm damage over the past couple of years came into bloom.  Tree peonies are not really trees, but they do have a shrubby form that does not die back over winter as the herbaceous peonies do. Tree peonies need to be planted more deeply that herbaceous peonies, but they are just as hardy and long lived. They bloom earlier and the blossoms are more ephemeral, but all the more treasured because of this.

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