Monday, June 1, 2009

Phoebe Video Updates

Posted by Kirk Mona
Here's some video updates for all of you following the saga of the parasitized Eastern Phoebe nest. The Brown Headed cowbird continues to grow at an amazing rate. This probably has to do with the fact that it gets a lot of the food brought to the nest. There was some speculation on the Cornell site that perhaps the phoebe chick were dead as they are hard to see. They are not dead. They are just overshadowed by the huge cowbird. In this first video, you can clearly see two of the chicks. The third is partially visible at the bottom of the screen under the cowbird.

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In this next video you can watch the Phoebe come back and bring food to the nest. She brings back what appears to be a beetle. It barely fits down the cowbirds mouth. I don't think the phoebe chicks could have eaten it with their smaller mouth.


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This next video shows that the phoebe chicks are indeed getting food. An adult comes back with food and the video starts with the food already in the cowbird's mouth. The phoebe then takes it out and decides to give it one of the other chicks instead. When the cowbird gets up on the edge of the nest you can really see how big it is. It is the same size, if not larger, than the adult phoebe.

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Here's another video of the adult feeding a phoebe chick instead of the cowbird. They are still getting food! I think the cowbird was just full. It doesn't even try to get the food in this one.

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That's it for videos today. I missed capturing video of the cowbird flapping its wings and stretching. According to The Birder's Handbook, Brown headed cowbirds fledge at 11 days. We're at 11 days today so hopefully the cowbird will leave the nest any time now. In the past I have noticed the phoebe young fledge in the morning so maybe that is the same with cowbirds. If so, hopefully the cowbird will be gone tomorrow and the parents can start focusing on raising the phoebe chicks.

~Kirk

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