I just found this slide show of a black bear trying to sleep on a hammock on the WCCO website.
Also, I have report from Marcie that she has an update to her mourning cloaks. Awesome photos!
Thursday night, Non Birding Bill and I headed out to Chit Chaturday. An event hosted by fm107 where you can meet the on air personalities and get free food. The event was held near the bird store I used to work at and is called the Bayside Grille, right on Lake Minnetonka. While there, I got a big hug from Ian of a Balanced Breakfast.
I also found a robin lurking suspiciously under some bushes--does it have a nest, I wondered. On closer inspection, I found a nest, but not a robin's nest. Just outside the nest were two chicks just ready to fledge and all the people around were feakin' them out. The smallest one flew the coop right away:
Can you tell what it is? I shooed it back to the bush with the nest, but did not put him in the nest. It landed safely on a higher branch. Once a chick flies out and discovers how mobile it can be, it won't stay in the nest any longer. Sometimes they leave a day or two early, but the parents will help guide it. If you can't guess the chick, it's a toughie--this species is known to be a "chipper" little fellow. Get it? CHIPper? It's a chipping sparrow.
Here's the second chick...looks like it got knocked around with the ugly stick a few times. Notice how the shape of this bird is different from the chick above? Look at the way the eyes are bulging. Is this a young chipping sparrow? No! It is a brown-headed cowbird.
For those who don't know, cowbirds are nest parasites, the adults lay their eggs in the nest of host birds and often the host birds loses some, if not all of their brood to caring for a chick twice their size. Cowbirds are a native North American species and are protected under the Migratory Bird Act. However, because cowbirds now follow sedentary humans and not roaming buffalo, their parasitism is speeding the decline of warblers, thrushes and sparrows.
I know how many people feel about cowbirds and I know many people will dispatch a young cowbird. I'll admit, I have removed cowbird eggs from nests, but I just can't dispatch a chick that far along in the growth process...especially at a large outdoor party with many people who don't know birds well but know me as the "bird lady" or "Birdchick". How would that look if someone came up to me while I was dispatching a baby bird?
Cowbirds are a huge debate and I don't know what's to be done or how it's to be solved.