Feed on

Yellow Warbler

Yesterday we went to my favorite birding spot in Heber City.  The water levels are incredibly high because we’ve gotten so much rain this year.

The trails were a bit wet, especially towards the end of the trail.

But what I want to show you today is quite fantastic.  First we’ll start with a great shot of a male Yellow Warbler.

The males were singing their heads off.  They were everywhere, singing in the trees and chasing after each other.  One of the males was feeding a baby cowbird.

Do you see how ridiculously huge the cowbird is compared to the warbler?  Cowbirds are brood parasites that lay their eggs in the nests for other birds to raise.

The cowbirds will remove a native egg so the parents don’t reject the intruder egg.  The cowbirds have even evolved to create eggs with a pattern that matches the eggs from the biological parent.  The parents are tricked and will feed the baby cowbirds even though the cowbirds can be twice as large as the parents.

photo by Jon

There are reports that if the other birds in the nest are much smaller than the cowbird, the little birds will starve to death.  There are additional reports that some brood parasites are born with mandible hooks that they use to kill the other babies in the nest.

It’s a sad situation since we love warblers and don’t want to them to be harmed for the betterment of cowbirds.  The warbler has to work really hard to feed this gigantic bird.

It’s hard to not resent the cowbird, at least a little bit.  One way that warblers fight against this situation is if a cowbird lays an egg in their nest, they’ll build a nest on top of the original one.

But I will say that I don’t see a lot of cowbirds around and I’ve seen a TON of Yellow Warblers.  I’ve even seen Yellow Warblers in my yard, which is in a moderately urban part of Salt Lake City.

So I think they’ll be okay in the end.


2 Responses to “Yellow Warbler”

  1. Tiffany says:

    I feel bad for handsome Dad because his “baby’ is gigantic! Seeing him with that beak crammed of bugs, knowing it isn’t even going to put a dent in the little ones stomach. He must be exhausted. Glad you don’t see many cowbirds. While it’s an interesting behavior they’ve evolved, I don’t really like that much.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I agree. I try not to get too invested in feeling bad, but it’s hard. At least I’m able to observe and write about it.