Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Unseasonable Bronzed Cowbird flock

At the corner of Hickory and Jefferson Highway in Harahan sits a pair of feeders, stocked frequently with generic store-bought wild bird mix.  I often view them at close range since they are right next to the sidewalk and conveniently positioned at the stop light.  Usually they are thronged by House Sparrows, and occasionally Monk Parakeets, but yesterday a flock of 25 or so Cowbirds was in attendance.

All but two of them were Bronzed Cowbirds- distinguishable from Brown-headed Cowbirds by their more hefty beak with a "Roman nose" shape, and in some birds by the red eye.  The other two in the flock were male Brown-headeds, a nice comparison.

Bronzed Cowbirds typically leave for the winter, so I was not expecting them.  Some readers may be surprised that they were here at all, as some field guides do not show southeast Louisiana as being in their geographical range.  We have for decades had a local disjunct population here, separated from their primary range in Texas.  Our birds are of unknown origin- an ornithological puzzle.


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