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Adult feeding Brown-headed Cowbird chick

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Adult feeding Brown-headed Cowbird chick

JPG Raster, 12.33 MB

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Photo Comments

Damon S Calderwood
3 years 6 months ago

In 2010 I traveled to Agate Lake near Medford, Oregon to photograph several species of birds in the area. The lake was rich in fauna, and I particularly enjoyed shooting a mercurial pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers that were feeding a single Brown-headed Cowbird chick in their beautifully camouflaged nest 16 feet high in an Oregon White Oak tree. I had first located the pair building a nest a three weeks earlier about 12 feet high in another Oregon White Oak, but the nest was subsequently destroyed, possibly by a Cowbird. When I saw that the lining had been torn out and the nest was ripped open, I was disappointed. Fortunately, the pair made another nesting attempt, and I was able to locate the new nest, although it only had the Cowbird chick. I was impressed with the rate both parents were able to bring in insect prey. Sometimes the adults would feed the voracious chick and return less than 15 seconds later with another meal. On average, they would feed the chick every 3 minutes, which helps to explain the giant size of the well-fed baby Cowbird. Sometimes both adults would appear at the nest together, and those shots were some of my favorites.