Sunday, July 18, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Cowbirds III: Media deluge, appearance by a female adult and a bonus new GBH fishing video!

Today was a better day for snagging photos of the juvenile cowbird than we'd had prior. Here's what we've got:

The little guy has become somewhat... tame.

Above, a visitor gets a little too close and had to be reminded of the rules that govern the treatment of wild birds in a national park.

But what's that weird growth his nose? He'd better get that looked at.

When it talks and moves:

The little guy is cute, bold, interactive and embarrassingly tame. For reasons I can't go into on this blog, I think it a fitting name for it would be Gil Jr.

Walking around the island today, scoping out small birds, I found several other probable cowbird juveniles as well, including two positive IDs on the west side of the island. There may be a cowbird breeding racket on Alcatraz and it makes sense. Cowbirds range here and we have the songbirds they like to victimize.

In our previous cowbird posts, I mentioned that egg laying cowbirds are known to sometimes linger around the nests they've visited to guarantee that their eggs are well treated by the forced adoptive parents.

Well, today I encountered what I believe to be a female cowbird:

I know these pictures are far from clear and the resemblance to the juvenile form is definitely strong, but the light trim around the flight feathers is much more subtle than that of the juvenile. The barring on the breast is more subtle and uniform.

The entire bird is darker, featuring much less yellow.

Her shape and gait are different. She looks more like a tall, confident blackbird than a pot bellied beggar and she pursued her business unaccompanied by any adoptive parents.

Great blue heron!

As the video closes, one of Alcatraz's bright and intrepid law enforcement rangers begins to raise the interesting question of how a great blue heron can hunt as it does when its eyes are located not on the front of its head but rather on the sides, which presumably hurts its ability to perceive depth and distance.

But you can't argue with the results, I guess.


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