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Cowbirds find sanctuary in other birds’ nests

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By Sylvia Brockner

Every year in late August, I receive phone calls from readers who want to know about a large brown baby bird that is being fed by a much smaller parent. This is usually a chipping sparrow or a gray-headed junco locally, but it may be almost any smaller bird. Brown-headed cowbirds arrive in the spring about March 1 and are the only bird in America that does not build its own nest. They come to feeders regularly because they prefer millet to all other grain. They watch the other birds to see where they are building nests, and when the rightful owner of the nest is away, they deposit an egg.


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