Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Yesterday morning I was pruning our miniature lilac bush next to the house (miniature, ha! it's gotten pretty huge over the years!) while Courtney was squirting water at me (a story for another time). I soon realized I was being scolded mightily by a tiny chirping bird off in a nearby tree.

I figured I must be very close to a nest of some kind, and it didn't take me long to find it in the "mini" bush. Here it is below:

Interesting, huh? Those eggs don't match! Hmmm.....

The tiny blue eggs belong to a chipping sparrow. Remember the nest from a couple years ago?

Soooo.... what about that extra egg? A little online searching last night told me that it belongs to a cowbird. They don't make nests of their own, but instead they lay their eggs in other unsuspecting birds' nests. Pretty lazy, if you ask me. So this poor other bird incubates and hatches out the baby cowbird(s). The cowbird usually chooses the nest of a smaller bird, and since the cowbird egg often hatches more quickly, that little baby cowbird is bigger and gets most if not all of the food the parents bring, and the other babies often don't make it. NOT FAIR, huh?!

I've read that it's illegal to destroy the cowbird egg! And even if I did, the cowbird might just replace it with another egg. Some people do destroy them. Some shake them hard so they won't hatch, then place them back in the nest just to prevent the cowbird from laying another in there. Some let nature take its course.

I hate what's going on! What do I do? What would YOU do?

Update: Thursday, July 15th - I checked the nest this morning, and one of the sparrow eggs was missing. I forgot to mention that another thing the cowbirds will do to ensure that their eggs get hatched is to knock the other eggs out of the nest. Does THAT change your opinion as to how this little dilemma should be handled?


The Luedtke Family said...

Maybe you really do not want to be asking me at the moment. I am ready to aim my hose on the jet stream setting and spray at the branch above my car every time I hear "bip". Perhaps tomorrow I'll have a kinder heart towards birds who survive because of other birds. But not tonight!

Anonymous said...

I would view tossing the cowbird egg with about the same sentiment as swatting a mosquito.
Most likely the cowbird won't lay another egg in there.
Timing is everything in this game. If the sparrow eggs hatch way before the cowbird egg, then the tables are turned for the cowbird because the little sparrows will be much more developed when the cowbird egg hatches.

Grandma G said...

Oh, Becky... a gun might be more effective! But I bet that'd be illegal, too. ;)

Dale, do you think it might be considered "legal" to experiment... just in the name of... oh, something official-sounding? Like if I did a test and removed the cowbird egg just to see if and/or how many times a cowbird would replace an original? Could I get by with that, y'think? I could record the results and it just might be a help to all of birddom, who knows?

Anonymous said...

That sounds reasonable to me.
Take the cowbird egg and put it in the frig. Save it and put it back after the chippers are hatched and have left the nest. Then put the cowbird egg back.
This also gives the cowbird the opportunity to hatched her own egg.

Dale the cynic.

The Luedtke Family said...

Perhaps I should combine the "hose" with the "gun" and use Simon's new watergun from a birthday gift. Hmmm, not sure he should really witness that cruelty to nature. He was quite adament to tell me of a new feather dusting this evening!!!

Anonymous said...

How did I get hatched?
I wanted hatch.

Grandma G said...

Oooohh... I LIKE the fridge idea! Then I wouldn't be breaking the law, either, would I? Heheh.

Becky, maybe Dale would have an idea for a solution for you... he's quite inventive. He should go read about your problem on this post and then this one. Okay, Dale?

How did you get hatched? Ummm... I think that's a question for your mom. (Grandma G blushes.)