Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Phoebe Video

Posted by Kirk
I finally had some time to capture some real-time video off the Eastern Phoebe Cam. There are three phoebe nestlings and at least one cowbird visible. The other cowbird may be hidden underneath the pile.

In the first video, one of the parents brings a large dragonfly back to the nest. It thinks about feeding it to the nestlings but it is too large even for the cowbird. the second phoebe arrives and it looks like the second bird just decides to take the dragonfly away. (Perhaps for a personal meal?)

The second video is a little higher quality. I messed around with the settings a bit to get a higher quality capture. This video illustrates the central problem with having cowbirds in the nest. The cowbird is already about twice the size of the phoebes and this is only five days after hatching. Look at the size of that mouth! When the parents come back with food they see that huge open mouth and they automatically feed the biggest target. The cowbird is getting most of the food. you can see the three small mouths at the top begging for food. The parent considers giving them some but then feeds it to the cowbird.

There's a little bonus at the end of the second video for those scat0logically inclined blog readers. The cowbird expels a fecal sac. The parent bird picks it up and flies away. This is one way they keep the nest clean. Did you ever notice there are no bird droppings in nests? By carrying away fecal sacs, the parents keep the nest clean. Now you know.

It makes me glad to be a human. I may have to change my son's diapers but I don't do it with my mouth.