Wednesday, August 17, 2011

This time, a herd.

Brown-headed Cowbirds

In early August 2009 I came across three young Brown-headed Cowbirds foraging in a hawthorn tree at the Terra Nova Wildlife Area in Richmond, and I mused about whether or not they could have been reared in the same nest.  I remarked that I had previously never seen more than one at a time.  In almost exactly the same spot last Friday (Aug. 12, 2011) we found a flock of at least six young cowbirds.  They alternated between foraging in the hawthorns and on the gravel path.

Anybody out there know anything about juvenile cowbird flocking behaviour?  Are they so habitat-specific that all would inevitably end up in the same place?  Or do they find each other through vocalizing or some other means?  Cowbird bat-signal?


Jodi said...

You know, I've always wondered about that. How does a young cowbird know he's a cowbird, not a phoebe/bluejay/whatever his nest-siblings were? For that matter, how does he know what song to sing? Weird and fascinating. Please let us know if you hear any theories!


Hugh said...

Jodi, Good questions. I'm too lazy to dig deeper than I already have, and I'm hoping someone birdier than me has an idea or two.

biobabbler said...

to coordinate a meet, they tweet

Hugh said...

bb: That's it. Feathered flash mob.