Cowbird Mafia | BirdNote



Cowbird Mafia

Written by Conor Gearin

That is BirdNote. 

    [Brown-headed Cowbird song, ML 120254, 1:04-1:06]

Brown-headed Cowbirds have a sneaky strategy to parenthood. They lay eggs within the nests of different songbirds, and the songbird hosts typically elevate the cowbird chick as their very own. It’s referred to as nest parasitism. It exploits a songbird’s tendency to take care of any younger within the nest.

However generally the hosts catch on to the cowbirds’ ruse and throw out the odd-looking egg. And when that occurs, the cowbirds have a means of coping with this sort of disrespect. 
    [“Love Theme” from The Godfather, Nino Rota Geffen Records 1972]

The cowbirds generally retaliate by destroying the hosts’ different eggs. Scientists name this “mafia habits,” likening it to organized crime teams implementing their calls for on unwilling enterprise companions. 
    [Brown-headed Cowbird calls, ML 197994, 0:59-1:02]

In a single examine of cowbird mafia habits, host mother and father that accepted the cowbird eggs fared higher than ones that resisted, elevating extra of their very own younger. For the hosts, the danger of dropping all their eggs without delay outweighed the price of having their chicks compete with the cowbird chick.

It appears the cowbirds simply desire a easily operating operation, no humorous enterprise. Somewhat present of drive every now and then may assist hold their hosts in line. 

[Brown-headed Cowbird calls, ML 197994, 3:36-3:37]

For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein. 

At the moment’s present dropped at you by the Bobolink Basis.


Senior Producer: John Kessler
Content material Director: Allison Wilson
Producer: Mark Bramhill
Managing Producer: Conor Gearin
Bird sounds supplied by The Macaulay Library of Pure Sounds on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Brown-headed Cowbird ML120254 recorded by G. Keller, and Brown-headed Cowbird ML 197994 recorded by B. McGuire.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and performed by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2022 BirdNote   June 2022        Narrator: ​​Michael Stein

ID# BHCO-03-2022-06-29        BHCO-03



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