Brown-headed Cowbird

Inca Dove

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June 19 (2001): A new, but not terribly welcome bird species showed up in my little yard: a Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater). It was a female bird and as such poses a threat to other nesting birds in my area. She does so by depositing her own eggs into other bird's nests. Once the eggs hatch they become foster chicks that eat way more than their share of food brought to the nest by the host birds. Only exceptionally can the host bird successfully rear one of its own chicks. It seems amazing that the host birds fail to recognize the cow bird chick as not one of their own, especially when the fast growing cowbird looks so different and finally outsizes its adoptive parents! A Black-chinned Hummingbird paid a visit today, the first time since last summer. Anna's Hummingbirds are the most abundant kind in Southwest cities.
June 3 (2001): Today four different bird-parents brought their fledglings into my yard. The downy young waited intently for a meal while learning their own survival skills. The fledgling Abert's Towhee made repeated insect-like buzzing sounds as it watched its parent kick away soil and leaves from the ground surface near the compost heap. A beetle grub was soon found and the parent obligingly stuffed it into the youngsters gaping beak. The four also included an Inca Dove, House Sparrow and a Verdin. If you want your yard to be attractive to birds and other wildlife:

  • Plant a variety of native plants.
  • Do not over clean fallen leaves and vegetable detritus. Let it compost.
  • Include some thorny plants or dense thicket types.
  • Include plants that produce berries or seeds.
  • Keep cats indoors.
  • If you put out bird seed, do so sparingly.
  • Scatter a few dead logs/branches on the ground.
  • Don't fret about spiders, caterpillars, beetles, even Turkestan Cockroaches; they're the bird food!
  • Avoid using chemical insecticides.

Desert Hackberry

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 4 July 2001,
updated 2 June 2018.