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cowbirds...only for those of stout heart

Harry Fuller <harry_fuller@...>
 

There was discussion of Cowbirds earlier this week, and last weekend Murphy and
I were trying to recall what we knew about Cowbird invasion of California...here
is rough summary of research paper in Studies in Avian Biology #15. Pub. by
Cooper Ornith. Society.

The Cowbirds' communal feeding and dispersed nesting pattern allows it to fly
many miles daily, and thus rapidly colonize wide areas when the habitat and food
supply allows. The Cowbird is supposed to have been a camp follower of buffalo
and American Plains Indians. They still basically follow large, herding
mammals, usuall eating on the ground. Often taking insects scared up by horses,
buffalo, cattle or soccer players. They thrive in areas of mixed habitat,
discontinuous forest, pastures, fields, corrals, etc. Historically there were

in late 1870s Bendire found them to be rare in Great Basin, none at Malheur in
1870s where they now abound...there is some speculation that as wagon routes
across the Basin and Sierra became set, the Cowbirds followed the larger
migrants westward along the southern routes

By 1890 the Cowbird was into the Great Basin but not yet west of the Sierra
In 1889 they were in the desert east of Los Angeles
In 1905 they were in Loa Angeles County
1907 Bakersfield area
1911 Fresno
1922 Fremont area
1931 Sacramento
1934 Oakland/Berkeley & Yosemite
1941 Eureka
1946 Eugene
1955 Seattle/ Victoria, B.C.
1957 Tahoe

They are the fastest spreadin native bird in North America

Author of this history ended with call for Cowbird population control to save
vireos and flycatchers in California

If anybody enjoys Stephen King I can send them a xerox of this horror story