Tuesday, April 27, 2010

First Cowbird of the Season at the KAXE Studios

by Doug MacRostie

Spring is an exciting time of year with all the returning birds and foliage, and it's always a thrill to see the first Red Wing Blackbird or hear the first call of a returning Woodcock. But, when you work at KAXE and compete with the likes of John Latimer and Scott Hall it's hard to be the 'first' to notice anything. Hence my excitement when I spotted a bird sitting outside on the windowsill!

Harry Hutchins had just finished hosting A Talk on the Wild Side and was getting ready to ride his bike to work when I pointed it out to him. "A female Cowbird," he said, "She's here a little early. Normally the males arrive first in early May. That's the first one I've seen this year." I jumped for joy! I spotted the first Cowbird at the KAXE Studios in 2010! Finally, I could swell with pride...

That's when Jennifer Poenix chimed in, "Aren't Cowbirds bad?" I knew the name sounded familiar, "I remember Laura Erickson talking about them taking over other nests," Jennifer finished. I was crushed. I spotted the 'bad bird.'

As Harry helped further explain, they are "brood parasitic" birds, which means they will lay their eggs in the nest of another bird - relieving themselves of parental responsibilities and giving them more time to play Modern Warefare 2 online... or something like that. They usually only leave one of their own eggs per nest (but, multiple females may lay an egg in the same host-nest). Obviously, such behavior is damaging to the host - and this is (seriously) called an "evolutionary arms race." See what you can learn just by looking out the window?

So my excitement over a 'first' of the year was tainted slightly by the knowledge that my discovery was in fact a free-loading, irresponsible, and generally harmful to its neighbors bird that shrugs off it's paternal responsibilities for more opportunity to find things to eat and play video games.

On second thought, I kind of relate. Sometimes you got to feed yourself! If KAXE's community was a flock of birds, I can handle being the Cowbird. Scott Hall would be the female Cardinal (he's from St. Louis), Jennifer would be the Scarlet Tanager because all of her secretive behavior, Heidi Holtan would be the Indigo Bunting because she has such a bright personality and Maggie Montgomery with her long tail would be the Magpie. John Bauer would be a Sparrow because they fly into the window the most, Steve Downing would be a Raven for the obvious reasons and Mark Tarner would be the Oriole (he's from Baltimore). Penny would be the Whooping Crane (have you ever seen her open a can of whoopass? exactly).

What have seen happening in the nature in your life?

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