Sunday, June 13, 2010

Brown's Bog Discoveries

Frequently, after the Greater Mohican Audubon Walks we do a little "advanced birding." It is pretty informal and whatever we come up with at the last minute: chase rare birds, visit a local hot-spot, or even visit some other natural wonder. Friend Jan came up with a great idea for this week- we could visit Brown's Bog south of Wooster.

As we wandered down the boardwalk which meanders through the fern-filled woods to the bog, we heard the calling of Acadian Flycatchers: Pee-sza! A pair have made their nest way too close to the boardwalk for their own safety, and are easily flushed. I took this photo on the way out of the bog as we tried to creep past her without disturbing her duties.

On the trip in, we discovered the nest when she rocketed out of an Arrow-wood Viburnum bush along the boardwalk. One youngster, barely a feather to keep him warm, had just hatched...

A little closer inspection reveals he is the first of four. But wait, why is one egg different? Looks like Mrs. Brown-headed Cowbird has been by to leave a brown-speckled calling card. Cowbirds do not raise their own young, they rather foster them out to warblers, flycatchers and the like. Yes, it seems cruel and it can be difficult for the smaller bird species to maintain a huge honking baby the size of Godzilla. But that is how nature does it. And while many birders hate the Cowbirds for their supposed laziness and destruction, they are just doing what nature intended. As nomadic birds who once followed buffalo across the plains, their lifestyle did not permit incubation time for eggs. But they know who will get the job done.

And if it is not a cowbird, perhaps other predators might get the Acadian's young. Sunning on the spaghnum moss, a beautiful specimen of garter snake will take any lunch opportunities that pass him by. That is just nature's way of doing things, and in the end it all balances out... we hope.

You can't blame the snake... for being a snake. That's just the way he rolls... ah, or should I say slithers?

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