Cowbird Dance-off

Last weekend I wrote a quick post about Cowbirds. At the time I thought I had a single pair of the odd creatures. Over the last couple of days it has become clear that I have a single female cowbird who is being courted by a group of males. Last night she was feeding in the lawn and they all followed right behind her. She couldn’t have cared less. She stayed at the front of the pack and her entourage followed. I noticed that they each took turns showing off for her, but she never gave any of them the time of day. It was at dusk so I didn’t get any good shots of this odd dance.

This morning as I got ready for work I saw the whole thing playing out in the walnut tree. It was a foggy morning at the Stone House, so I apologize for the photo quality in advance…

I spotted the makes on the swing - the third entered my frame as I snapped this shot.

I spotted the makes on the swing – the third entered my frame as I snapped this shot.

Where is the Cow-Girl? She’s way up in the top of the walnut tree ignoring these guys. They spot her and the competition begins. Who will win her favor – I think it will be the one who wins the Dance-off…

First the cow-boy on the right sounds a call - it sounds like dripping water in a tunnel - then he struts his stuff.

First the cow-boy on the right sounds a call – it sounds like dripping water in a tunnel – then he struts his stuff.

Round 1 of the dance-off – while one cow-boy struts his stuff the others watch the cow-girl to see if she takes note…

The male on the left does the cowbird version of the Electric Slide.

The cow-boy on the left does the cowbird version of the Electric Slide. He’s looking a little tipsy.

Round 2 – the male on the left takes his shot, the male on deck checks out his groove while the other keeps his eyes on the prize…

The center cow-boy sings his heart out and puffs himself out like a down jacket.

The center cow-boy sings his heart out and puffs himself out like a down jacket. Note the dramatic posture and twisting of his wings.

Round 3 – the center male sings louder than the others. He has been leading the charge since last night, but is his footwork fancy enough to keep him in the competition?

The cow-boy on the right answers his competitors with a dramatic song and sly stepping.

The cow-boy on the right answers his competitors with his best impression of an eagle. They seem unfazed.

Round 4 – the male on the right flexes his muscles, the others don’t bother watching…

The cow-boy on the left may not get any style points for this performance, but he does commit 100%.

The cow-boy on the left may not get any style points for this performance, but he does commit 100%.

Round 5 – the male on the left gives it his all. There are times when practicing in a mirror could really help a guy out, this is one of those times…

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Not to be outdone, the cow-boy in the center answers in kind. What form!

Round 6 – the male in the middle throws down – he lunges forward and twists his wings like canoe paddles. The bar has officially¬†been raised…

The cow-boy on the right answers with an amazing extension of plumage.

The cow-boy on the right answers with an amazing extension of plumage.

Round 7 – the male on the right completely takes his rival to the left out of the competition. The male on the right is no longer watching the female, he is transfixed by the grace of his better…

Who won the dance-off? Well, I had to go to work, so I don’t know. They could still be up in the tree strutting their stuff.

A Cowbird Love Story

I don’t have any cows, but I do have a pair of brown-headed cowbirds – here’s the story of how they met…

I've been looking to settle down, I just need to find that special guy...

I’ve been looking to settle down, I just need to find that special guy…

There's a perch up there that looks promising - lots of action at that bar...

There’s a perch up there that looks promising – lots of action at that bar…

I'll just take a seat here at the bar - do these feathers make my butt look fat?

I’ll just take a seat here at the bar – do these feathers make my butt look big?

What's that racket up there?

What’s that racket up there?

Panic

Ooooo – he’s cute!

Hey there, handsome....

Hey there, handsome….

And we lived happily ever after...

And we lived happily ever after…

I have been told that cowbirds sneak their eggs into the nests of unsuspecting birds and move on, leaving the rearing of their young to strangers. So the story goes something like this…

Two young cowbirds fall in love, abandon their children to the foster care system, and fly off into the sunset partying and following cows until it’s time to do the whole thing again next year.