Monday, 4 June 2012

Indigo Bunting, Passerina cyanea

I have a sister-in-law (Grace), whose age I shall not mention, save to say that a few ripples have passed over the rocks since her birth. Born into a rural Mennonite family she remembers the presence of nature in all its seasons. Although not specifically schooled in the ways of birds she recalls vividly, and with great pleasure, the spring time arrival of the Indigo Bunting. She was always enthralled by the stunning colour of the male and the cheery repertoire of its vocalizations. I hope that she will derive great pleasure from this magnificent photograph, reproduced with the kind consent of Guy Poisson of Montmagny, Québec, and that it will recall happy memories of childhood. We already have a Grace's Warbler; perhaps henceforth we will refer to this species as Grace's Bunting!

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Brown-headed Cowbird,  Molothrus ater
I have often heard the Brown-headed Cowbird maligned as villainous and deceitful, even by fellow birders. Somehow or other we wish to assign to the cowbird values held dear by humans (well, some humans at least) and seek to impose on it our notions of what is proper care of a family by the parents. I even once knew a birder who would routinely shoot cowbirds at every chance he got.
We should simply accept the fact, perhaps even rejoice in it, that the entire suite of birds we know as brood parasites, have evolved a highly successful life style that ensures the continued existence of their species, and stop anthropomorphizing at every turn. I think that if the cowbird's behaviour was replicated in human terms it would be declared "Entrepreneur of the Year."