Brown-headed Cowbird, Molothrus ater, is the third Blackbird that lives in The Sea Ranch. He can be found in his own small herd or in mixed flocks along with Brewer and Red-winged Blackbird. As you would expect, given his name, the male is distinguished by a brown head. Here are three ardent suitors of a girl just off camnera to the right. In the second picture a tiff breaks out among the boys and then in the third picture they all take off after the girl. The last picture shows the happy couple that emerged following the chase.

Cowbird

Cowbird

Blackbird Mating Ritual

Cowbird - female & male

Cowbird is a pretty typical Blackbird except that the female almost always lays her eggs in other birds nests and then abandons them to the care of the other bird. They get their name because they frequent cow pastures following after Cow to catch any insects that might be stirred up. Here in The Sea Ranch they can not find any cows so they follow our sheep and goats around. It is thought that they probably followed Bison before Cow arrived on the scene. Given that Bison moved over large swaths of land it would make sense that Cowbird had to lay her eggs and then move on. Another interesting fact about Cowbird is that she frequently lays more than one set of eggs. Because she lays so many in any one season, she needs a hefty intake of calcium. This she gets by adding egg shells and mollusk shells to her normal diet of seeds and insects.

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The chase is the thing.