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Some of you may have realized the increasing level of infrequency these posts have managed to rack up over the past few weeks. As they say, sometimes life gets in the way? At least in my case it’s all been enjoyable, and even though I haven’t been writing much here, I still penned a couple articles for the Tobago Newsday within the last month – one on shorebirds (my loves) and the other on Frigatebirds (my first loves, adapted from an article I first posted here) – so the engine is still relatively warm.

And since I managed to land my paws on a new phone that has the memory capacity to run Instagram, I’ve been more than active on that platform – you can check it out here, it’s updated at the very least daily. Benefits of mobile platforms right. I’ve also been sharing relevant articles on my Facebook page as usual. But there’s nothing that compares to the freedom of being able to blab incessantly about absolutely anything I want.

Of course, what I usually want to talk about tends to centre around some form of animal, usually birds. This fluffy little fella is a young Shiny Cowbird, and while he may still be young and yet to learn the ways of his kind – he has a grim future. Well, maybe not particularly grim for this particular bird per se, but for the species it interacts with.

shiny cowbird juve







Adult male Shiny Cowbirds are regal, and scheming almost.

shiny cowbird-5










The females seem to look even more full of plans, sinister plans.

shiny cowbird







The truth is that this is all part of nature. What am I speaking about? Shiny Cowbirds are brood parasites, meaning that they search out the nests of other birds – Wrens, Tanagers etc – and “dispose” of the original eggs and lay their own. When it’s nesting season and a few Shiny Cowbirds pass through, everyone is on the lookout. I’ve seen them being chased – because their intentions are well known.

Somehow they still manage to score. The unfortunate foster parent will continue to incubate its (new) egg, and when the chick hatches, it will work tirelessly to feed its young. Well, adopted young. Unknowingly adopted young. Before long, the relationship seems to outgrow the adopted parent, but instincts are instincts, and the former fledgling that has now grown to twice the size of the parent will soon learn to fend for itself, watched from a distance by its own biological parents – to eventually continue the cruel but necessary propagation of its kind. It might be just me, but the image below pretty much sums up all interactions between foster parents and brood parasite young – whether it is the House Wren and Shiny Cowbird in this case, or Reed Warbler and Common Cuckoo halfway around the world.

shiny cowbird juve and foster parent

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