Friday, June 10, 2016

Those Damned Teenagers, or, Get Your Own Damned Sunflower Seeds

Here's Laverne, because I can't find Shirley's photo.
Spring, the time of birth. We successfully kept Laverne, the prolific mama mourning dove from nesting on our ladder this year by taking down the ladder. We put it back up after we were sure she'd nested somewhere else, and a few weeks later...Shirley was back. You remember Shirley, she was the high-strung robin that nested on the ladder with Laverne a couple of years ago. So now we have to wait for Shirley's eggs to hatch before I can do the gutters. Again.

Anyway, we also have a starling family running around. There are two adults and two fledglings. The fledglings have this horrible screechy call and it's pretty non-stop. My husband noticed them on our feeder one day, and how the parent was feeding the fledglings. I explained that after they fledge, it's a learning period where they still get fed by the parents. He was like, "but they're so BIG." I joked that they're just like today's teenagers/twenty-somethings: perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, but still demanding the parents do it for them.

That was a couple of weeks ago. Today, they were running around outside my window again, with a change in dynamic. The parents were eating seeds off the ground...and NOT feeding the "youngsters." Which are now easily twice the size of the parents.

Now, I'm not a passionate birder. I retain knowledge (I think) from my summer as a naturalist intern and my zoology class in college. I started to think these "fledglings" are cowbirds. The brown-headed cowbird is a parasite. It lays its eggs in OTHER birds' nests, and the cowbirds, being bigger and more aggressive, can often cause the other babies to...well, you can imagine. But the coloring is definitely more starling than cowbird, so maybe they just look so much bigger because they haven't molted yet or whatever. Or maybe the parents did such a good job with the feeding that they grew really big.

I felt really bad for the parents, though, because they looked pretty done with the whole thing. Kinda like human parents, in a lot of cases. :)

(I tried to get photos/video, but they've disappeared. I know if I keep waiting to post this, they'll never show up. So here's my cat watching a chipmunk instead. :) )

1 comment:

Nicky James said...
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