Sunday, June 22, 2008

Playing God

If, after reading my last post, you were worried about the little mama bird returning to her nest, I have to admit I was a little worried too. But later that afternoon I spotted her sitting there, all tiny and maternal. There's something about watching a bird sit on its nest that warms my heart. I'm sure it's because I attribute human emotion to her.

I imagine her in a state of hopeful, optimistic anticipation. She may not be having baby showers or painting nurseries, but there must be some love for her eggs in that tiny mama bird's heart, right?

I noticed this morning she wasn't on the nest, so I took a peek in, and here's what I saw.

An interloper!! The big white speckly egg looks nothing like the mama bird's own eggs. So where did it come from? A friend of mine at church told me about this bird. It never builds a nest. It just watches for other birds to build nests and then lays its eggs in with their eggs and lets a surrogate mama feed and raise its birds. Most times the smaller original birds won't get as much to eat as the baby bully bird, and will die. There's a term for this whole situation: Brood Parasitism.

Brood Parasitism is the only way the bully bird reproduces. It's not like she's an extra lazy version of her species. She's just figured out how to free up more time for foraging for food, flying around, and basically - make a living/surviving. And guess what? It's working for her. While the bully birds are thriving, the little mama birds are on the decline.

So which way is the right way? Do I let the bully bird's egg stay in the nest? Does her baby have less a right to be cared for than the original babies? It would seem that even in nature not all moms are able to care for their own young. Some of them have to go out and work while someone else raises their babies. Does it make me a hypocrite if I remove the egg that doesn't belong? Or do I let the little mama bird get tricked into neglecting her own babies?

Why must I be having all this bird drama???

No where did I read anything about where the father bully birds are during all of this.


Lahdeedah said...

I'd leave it, unless the other poor birdies were gonna be bullied....

such opportunists!

RainyPM said...

The other birds will be smaller and the parent birds will feed the bigger mouths first. Some of the original babies will most likely starve.

Lahdeedah said...

Boot it outta there!

Sanya said...

Listen, I'm married to someone who refuses to share our deck beams with bird nests. When I plead for the robin, the wren, and this little khaki bird with a speckled chest, with sentiments like "where will they raise their babies!?" he gestures to the forest and says "OUT THERE."

This one robin has built five nests so far. I think he knows I won't let the mate take down the nest if there are eggs.

If the egg was JUST laid, boot it out. Do it quick before it becomes a baby bird instead of just a yolk.