Saturday, July 2, 2011

Cowbirds in the barn

Female cowbirds on Bree's back

The raven chicks have fledged.  We know from the way they talk.  Their cries are even harsher than their parents', and higher.  To me, they sound like screams from the soundtrack of a horror movie.  Of course, the babies are ravenous, and I noticed that my chicken feeder was being raided, picked clean every morning.  I tired of feeding the hooligans and moved it into the barn.

Now, the only wild birds I'm feeding are the cowbirds.  These little guys like to hang out with the horses and eat bugs.  Often, we'll see several of them lined up on a horse's back.  The males are a glossy blue-black, the females dark grey with brown heads.  I guess they enjoy corn as well as insects, because they are in the barn a lot now that the chicken feeder is in there.

Male cowbirds on a barn window ledge

If I walk in unexpectedly, one of the cowbirds will give its seriously high-pitched alarm whistle and the whole flock will lift away from the fence or the door where they'd been perched.  When they know I'm coming, though, they don't bother leaving unless I walk right up to them.  I can go in and out, hop into the sheep pen, or sit and milk, and the cowbirds will stay put, lined up somewhere, occasionally giving their sweet, liquid warble.  The whole bunch probably don't eat as much grain as one raven does.  My chicken feeder isn't being emptied any more.  I like having these birds around.


  1. Oh they're cute! I wish we had those around here.

  2. I think they eat enough bugs to pay for their grain and, as you say, they are cute.