Hi, I would love to know, and I sure wish I could find that article. I 
definitely recall that it said the cowbird chicks that were studied left their 
nest like 3am to go to the field ("party"), and then came back to the nest 
before dawn, to continue to pretend to be their slave parent's child!  

Of course later they'll not sit in the nest any more, and wander around while 
being fed, I've seen that. And yes I am sure you are right about most of the 
other things you noted! I maybe should not have said "teenager", -- that was my 
word choice, not that of the scholars whose research was reported in that 
Living Bird magazine article.  I used "teenager" because the cowbird nightly 
field party seemed to be a ... teenager's dance party. 

Maybe someone else knows the URL for the actual article. I can't find it, I 
must have read it in print only.  

This rather memorable article also talked about other astounding discoveries 
such as that the catbird is the only bird that can resist the cowbird's 
trickery. Unlike other birds, it said, the catbird will expel every egg that 
looks different from its first egg. So, the cowbirds can only outsmart it by 
laying their egg in the catbirds' new nest before even mama catbird has laid 
her first egg there. If it can, then the catbird will expel her own eggs, one 
after the other. And if the cowbird scheme fails, it might rip up the nest (as 
revenge). 

--yrs.,
Magnus Fiskesjö
n...@cornell.edu
________________________________________
From: AB Clark [anneb.cl...@gmail.com]
Sent: Saturday, April 11, 2020 9:30 AM
To: Magnus Fiskesjo
Cc: Michael H. Goldstein; CAYUGABIRDS-L
Subject: Re: [cayugabirds-l] Cowbirds

I wonder if there has been some mis-intepretation either in the article or by 
subsequent readers.  Cowbird young, like other passerines, leave the nest in 
the care of parents (foster or otherwise) and live outside the nest from then 
on.  (OK individuals may hop outside during the day and return at night for the 
day or two over which they fledge.)  Care for cowbirds in the fledgling stage 
lasts a similar time to their relatives, red-winged blackbirds and other 
smallish icterids.  They should be fed and be following or calling to parents 
over the next 12-14 days, not joining older cowbirds.  Teenagers would be 
perhaps yearling cowbirds?  It is later, in summer and fall, when young 
cowbirds are independent of parents, that they flock up with other cowbirds and 
blackbirds.

I haven’t heard anything about 3 am gatherings from Meredith or her students.  
Seems pretty dark for any such passerine to be moving.  West and King studied 
them in aviaries and it could be that researchers got up at 3 am to set up and 
be there when singing started to happen.  But in any case, cowbird song 
learning is a fascinating situation where the basic songs are clearly not 
learned from parents during late nestling or early fledgling periods, i.e. 
develop “innately”, but  are socially modified in a number of ways, feedback 
from female cowbirds and from competing male cowbirds both.  West and King 
published several really nice overviews in accessible papers, Scientific 
American or American Scientist, I believe.

By the way, there is at least one video-documented report of a hatchling 
cowbird behaving like cuckoos and butting host eggs out of the nest.


Anne B Clark
147 Hile School Rd
Freeville, NY 13068
607-222-0905
anneb.cl...@gmail.com<mailto:anneb.cl...@gmail.com>



On Apr 11, 2020, at 9:11 AM, Magnus Fiskesjo 
<magnus.fiske...@cornell.edu<mailto:magnus.fiske...@cornell.edu>> wrote:

This morning, a male cowbird singing, at Salt Point. Never heard that before. A 
very low volume series of thin crispy notes. No clucking, as in some recordings 
of its song.

The bird sat very close, on top of the little pine/fur tree at the lakeside 
fork of the path to the Bluebird Path.

It refused to leave its perch and continued singing even as I stood right under 
the tree.

Ps. the weirdest cowbird research for me was the Living Bird piece reporting on 
how a cowbird knows it is a cowbird, and not a whatever other bird, despite 
being raised by them as slave parents. It was discovered that the grown chick 
gets up at 3am and leaves the slaving foster parents' nest, to go hang out with 
other teenager cowbirds in a nearby field. Next question is, how do hey know 
that they should get out of bed at 3am and go to the field party and get to 
know their cowbirdness?
ps. I could not find the reference to the Living Bird magazine article where I 
read this. I only find this partial account, also interesting but no mention of 
the teenager party:
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/if-brown-headed-cowbirds-are-reared-by-other-species-how-do-they-know-they-are-cowbirds-when-they-grow-up/

--
Magnus Fiskesjö
n...@cornell.edu
_________________________________
From: bounce-124539965-84019...@list.cornell.edu 
[bounce-124539965-84019...@list.cornell.edu] on behalf of Michael H. Goldstein 
[michael.goldst...@cornell.edu]
Sent: Friday, April 10, 2020 8:05 PM
To: CAYUGABIRDS-L
Subject: Re: [cayugabirds-l] Cowbirds

Cowbirds are crazier than you think…check out the research by Meredith West and 
Andrew King on the role of female cowbirds (who don’t sing) in shaping the 
development of juvenile males' song by using rapid wing gestures:  
http://www.indiana.edu/~aviary/Research/female%20visual%20displays.pdf and more 
generally, http://www.indiana.edu/~aviary/Publications.htm

Cheers,
Mike



On Apr 10, 2020, at 7:49 PM, Peter Saracino 
<petersarac...@gmail.com<mailto:petersarac...@gmail.com>> wrote:

I was having a cup of coffee looking out the window at 3 male and 3 female 
cowbirds going at the sunflower seeds. As I watched them it dawned on me that 
all of them were raised by foster parents!!!
According to the Lab of O:
"the cowbird does not depend exclusively on a single host species; it has been 
known to parasitize over 220 different species of North American birds".
Crazy, wild stuff.
Pete Sar
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