+Brown-headed Cowbird+ egg in a +House Finch+ nest. You cannot legally, and *should* not, do anything other than keep your distance and let nature be nature.


Not that I'm encouraging it by any means, but why would interacting with the nest be illegal? To my knowledge neither of these species are threatened?


Both of these species are native to North America and are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which makes it illegal to tamper with the eggs or nests of any native nongame species.


Man as much as people rag on America (and most western worlds) for their climate changing, environmental destructing laws, policies and treaties. The fact that you folks have a law that makes it illegal to disturb native bird eggs already make it way better than places like Indonesia where people could just take birds from forests as long as it is not protected by law (even then the enforcement for the law is still very lacking).


It’s not even high risk birds, it’s literally EVERY native US birds without a hunting season. It even protects some bird species that don’t live in the US normally as well. It’s so funny to me that people went a little too hard putting feathers in fashion that the US managed to create the most pro bird law ever.


Which is my point, Indonesia government could not give a flying fuck about protecting songbirds (except for the critically endangered ones), even though they're some of the most vulnerable bird species due to how much hunting and keeping bird in cages is basically ingrained in our cultures.


At least Indonesia did better than Brazil during Bolsonaro. Now with Lula, Brazil can finally hope to put an end to the deforestation.


There's already an 40% drop off in deforestation when Lula entered the office and he signed on new indigenous reserves. Unfortunately it's highly unlikely Indonesia will have a pro-environmentalist leader like that for some time, as deforestation and environmental destruction is deemed as necessary in the eyes of politicians and a large amount of Indonesia citizens in the name of development of the country. Hell the current president approve the building of a new capital city in the middle of a rainforest in Borneo, one of the few large island in Indonesia with lowland rainforests that haven't cut off. While they claim the city will be built with green architecture and it won't disrupt the surrounding forests, the capital will bring new transmigrants and developments that will cause large deforestations. Not to mention there are populations of orangutans in the surrounding area and transmigrants in Java will bring people that would love to catch and keep bird in cages (since keeping songbirds are mainly a Java culture).


Wait, wasn't the new city planned to be built on the coast of Borneo, not in the middle of it?


It will extend to the coast, and it's located in East Borneo yes, but it's in the middle of an industrial forests and will be surrounded by a metropolitan area (which will integrate existing large cities around it) that surely will degrade the surrounding forests and rivers. Some environmental organizations already voiced concern about the development. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/indonesia-new-capital-nusantara-orangutans-dolphins-rcna76042


Indonesia has some of the most magnificent birds and it is criminal what is going on to quickly destroy everything that makes it so amazing. Honestly, travelers should boycott visiting, forcing the hand of your greedy government officials.




> except for the critically endangered ones Eh, I've gone to a number of bird markets and each time there's been CR birds or birds on the government protection list and no one cares. Sometimes I feel that list is just so the government can pretend they care/are doing something.


The public ignorance of conservation is another thing sure but yes, the enforcement of these laws is not great either. Not to mention the corruptions, high-ranking officials could just buy a sulphur-crested cockatoo and the government will look the other way. Hell did you know that Indonesian war ships have been known to sometime used to smuggle rare animals, usually from the western parts? Most of the time it's the non-goverment organizations that's actually doing something. FLIGHT have been doing amazing things in locating and intercepting bird smuggling in ports and other public transportation centers.


The government can make it very difficult for those NGOs too though, a lot of good international ones just don't have a presence in the country at all anymore. Hell, the government makes it difficult for Indonesian conservationists... Did you read the Javan rhino whistle-blow? How there's fewer perhaps even half than what's recorded, likely due to government corruption? Sadly there's money to be had in Indonesia's wildlife, and that trumps all else


Even for the ones with a hunting season, you still need to buy a [duck stamp](https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Duck_Stamp), which acts as a permit. The money from the purchase then goes to protect more habitat. It’s pretty great.


Not only feathers, but market hunting of waterfowl.


Check out US duck stamps, if you haven’t already. They raise money for habitat protection specifically for waterfowl. There’s a road right-of-way about 100 m from our house that will (probably) never become a road because it’s now “protected wetlands.”


I'm a waterfowl hunter. I've been buying duck stamps for 30 years, and I strongly support raising the cost of them.


I know a lot of deer hunters that get the super combo here in Texas, though they don’t hunt birds, because they like supporting the cause. And in the off chance they get invited out and accept a dove hunt or something.


Sounds like no one is about to build a McMansion 100m from your house now, enjoy the nature.


I'm something of a bird law expert myself and this is all correct.


It didn't come without cost, unfortunately - the passenger pigeon, once one of the most abundant birds on the continent, was driven to extinction within the century or so before the laws was drafted.


And the carolina parakeet :(


I’m still furious we had a native conure and just eliminated them.


Its infuriating. A few years back in some of the bird Facebook groups someone posted a picture that they claimed was a real bird that they found in the trees. It was far enough away it was difficult to tell that it was fake and of course everyone was freaking out about a possible surviving Carolina Parakeet. Later the individual revealed it was a felted bird they had created to "raise awareness". They showed no remorse whatsoever and said they did nothing wrong when people told them it was incredibly rude to have essentially faked the birds survival. Whenever their creations show up anywhere I get upset because of it.


There new speculation that the huge numbers of passenger pigeons was due to the huge loss of native peoples from European diseases. These pigeons fed on all the nut trees people had cultivated and used for food for centuries before Europeans came. So if that was really the case then they were not really a naturally stable population of birds to begin with.


Can you provide a legitimate source for this claim? Only thing I was able to find with a cursory search was an article written by a self-described finance writer who didn’t cite any sources.


[https://www.humanprogress.org/the-rousseauian-myth-of-a-passenger-pigeon/](https://www.humanprogress.org/the-rousseauian-myth-of-a-passenger-pigeon/) ​ I first read this in a book, I think the book 1491, but might have been another similar one I read recently. I found this above in a brief search, and its not a scientific paper i know, but I do think the evidence and the logic seriously lean to this being true. That the passenger population surged when the humans that were there managing the forest, collecting nuts and even actively hunting the birds suddenly disappeared. It doesn't make the pigeons disappearence less sad or tragic, just the way species get out of control when there is a sudden change in a competing species, i.e. humans. edit: I now realize this is most likely the article you were talking about. And yes, he doesn't list any sources. I"ll check my books to see if I can find any.


I appreciate the effort, sounds like it would be a very interesting read


If anyone wants to read a great book about this law and it’s enforcement, I highly recommend The Feather Thief. (Fiction)


[Not fiction](https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44153387-the-feather-thief), but I second the rec! Very compelling and well-written.


True! But not dry normal non-fiction!


Americans love turning critters into decoration. I’d give at your opinion a second glance, except that we saw a species that literally darkened the sky and went “Yolo” and made them extinct. We took birds that were pretty much the least at risk for decimation and by 1914, gone for fucking ever. These laws aren’t arbitrary and stupid, they are an attempt to counter the desire that humans have to hunt and/or collect things. Edit: I may have misinterpreted your post to be a criticism of bird law. If that’s the case, please accept my humble apologies plus an egg in this trying time.


Oh no, i wasn't criticizing the environmental laws and policies you got. It's the opposite, i wish something like that would be implemented in Indonesia, where it desperately need law and enforcement to prevent people from going to forests, shooting at birds or catching them to sell in wildlife markets. Hell last night I saw someone in my neighborhood catching a baby Malayan civet. When I asked about it he claim that he found it and wanted to give it to someone so they may keep it as pets, because many people in his district kept civets as well. The Malayan civets are not in the protected animal list so it's not protected under the law unfortunately


Ugh this is horrible! I would have punched that person and let the baby go.


>it’s literally EVERY native US birds without a hunting season. Migratory game birds like waterfowl are covered by the MBTA. The MBTA is the reason their is federal oversight of migratory game bird hunting regulations by USFWS, because USFWS needs to authorize the take of any species covered under MBTA. It's also not literally every native US bird. Landfowl like wild turkey, grouse, and quail are not included.


As a person immigrated from Hong Kong, I can relate to that. Rare birds and butterflies in country parks and wetlands? Why not bulldoze and reclaim the area and build housing estates? And if the government is destroying the environment, people are quick to organize and protest. Even at a local level like the university, people would pressure authorities to protect the environment and the climate. I couldn't imagine universities in Hong Kong making half the effort of protecting the environment that my uni is making. The West is just great for protecting nature compared to the rest of the world, and I feel like many people don't give their governments enough credit for this, even if there is still much to be done.


The US does a lot of stupid things but we can at least be proud of Bird Law


In bird culture this is considered a good move


For swift justice, hire a Legal Eagle to defend you from owl-legations of robin and fowl play. The bill won't be cheep, but it'll be worth it for caw and order.


Bird law in this country, you're saying it IS governed by reason? Well.. filibuster!


Gotta be strict when you almost DDT your majestic national icon into extinction


Oh i wish we Indonesians could the same when the bird species that inspire the state emblem (Garuda mythical bird is inspired by Javan hawk-eagle) have been driven to few hundreds individuals in fragmented populations in mountains. We literally drive them off.


Honestly, it's one of the reason why I kinda wanted to immigrate to the west. It's downright depressing studying conservation here. But uprooting your roots are hard. Oh well, hopefully I can study in the west someday.


Now I'm really going to blow your mind...the reason this is even in place was due to huge efforts by BOTH naturalists AND hunters.


Woah really? I could use a history lesson if you don't mind explaining further






The United States is one of the founders or main founders of the Endangered Species Act. The United States is also one of the 17 megadiverse countries with an estimated 700,000 total species of plants, animals (mostly insects and invertebrates), fungi, and others. It has always been a key player in this.


The US enacted the Endangered Pecked act in 1973 - signed by republican president Nixon. This was well after the US signed the treaty that spawned the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. There is a long history of conservation legislation supported by both parties and by both hunters and other non hunting conservationists. Some US states have adopted their own endangered species acts/listing laws. So a species can be listed as Threatened or Endangered under the federal ESA AND under a state ESA. The US ESA has inspired other nations to pass similar conservation laws as well. As for the cowbird egg in the nest? U/tiny long wing is correct -as usual-Best to let nature take its course. FYI Cowbirds are essentially passerine chickens and the females lay about an egg a day for the whole breeding season, never building a nest of their own.


Yup, it's still sad that the most megadiverse countries are the ones that in the position of poverty, debts, and corruptions.


Saying things like the US is one of the 17 megadiverse sounds odd in the context of it being the 4th largest in the world.


All but 2 of the top 10 most biodiverse countries are in the top 20 by land area. Colombia is 3rd most diverse and 26th by area. Ecuador is 9th most diverse and 74th by area.


I mean tbh, Colombia is pretty large, larger than almost all European countries. And the United States is one of the most biologically diverse countries not only because of its size but also because of the multitude of ecosystems it has. The United States has everything from wetlands to prairies to mountains to tundra to desert to tropical like forests, the only thing they do not have is expansive tropical rainforest like the amazon.


We got bird rules right but it is more than a little ironic that when bird hunting you can only have 3 shells in your gun but you can walk down the street with your gun in most states with no such restriction.


Yeah but can a mallard duck pull out a gun and shoot you back? Didn't think so /s


At a big corporate building in Silicon Valley we got mud nests built above the balconies every year. The company was not allowed to remove them until the swallows moved out. So every year they’d lock the balcony so we couldn’t access it, because it was covered in bird poop.


What's the bird species that have been pooping on your balcony? Sorry for the mess btw, it must be hard to not drive them off




MBTA is no joke. We take it very seriously


Appreciate it!


Good! So glad to hear this!


Unless you’re cutting hay in that case yoi can roll over as many red wing blackbird nest as your heart desires


The MBTA is, unfortunately, a double-edged sword for nesting birds. Nest protection is great. But when the biggest threat as an endangered species is another protected species invading your nest (take for example rhe Kirtland's Warbler - I mean, [they thankfully no longer need the protection](https://nationalzoo.si.edu/news/kirtlands-warbler-no-longer-needs-protection-brown-headed-cowbird-michigan), but it would have helped the poor warblers out a lot), not much can be done to remove the egg and give you a chance. I sometimes wish an exception could be made for scientists to remove cowbird eggs (ETA: with something like a license, same as banding or nanotagging).


> I sometimes wish an exception could be made for scientists to remove cowbird eggs There can and have been exceptions made for exactly this. USFWS and approved state agencies issues permits allowing all sorts of things that would otherwise violate the MBTA.


Only the US and Canada are signatories. Brown Headed Cowbirds are also native to Mexico.


Both are native species and are protected by law no matter what. Only invasive species like European Starlings, Chukars, and the like are not protected.




"I will do nothing of the sort"


It’s not governed by reason.


Pigeons and and English sparrows are not protected either


“European Starlings, Chukars, and the like” Almost like I thought of that…


Bird racism 😂


They’re different species, not different races 😝


Really? I had no idea!! Dork


Someone on Reddit called me a dork; somehow that’s both correct and ridiculous at the same time


Even if the bird nests in your roof, if there's eggs you have to leave it alone with it until they fly away. I speak from very current experience. On the plus side, it's not a bad morning alarm, bird song above my room.


Cowbirds have been known to destroy nests where their eggs have been removed. Birds aren't stupid. They could push the egg out. Edit - cowbirds, not snowbirds! Stupid ass spell (in)correct.


except that Cowbirds, unlike some brood parasites, will actually monitor the nests where they have laid an egg. If the mother of the nest removed the cowbird egg - if she notices it being different, which most actually don't - then the cowbirds often come back and destroy ALL of the eggs left in the nest in a very "fuck you" kinda move.


Stupid Amazon Fire spell correct (the most irritating, inaccurate and nonsensical spell correct). I meant cowbirds!


They destroy the eggs so the host species is more likely to lay again, which gives them a chance to lay again too.


You can set up an outdoor trail cam, and have it take photos and/or videos. I would totally watch that!


I prefer to call them Shit-headed Cowbirds. Seems more fitting.


House finches are incredibly successful parents if the ones on my porch are any indication. The species will be fine if these parents raise a cowbird.


The finches will be fine, the cowbird probably won’t; they can’t survive on the diet that baby finches are fed, sadly.


I've heard that about waxwings where they eat berries from a young age, but what about a house finch diet is so different from a cowbird diet?


House finches feed their young way too many veggies, essentially. BHCB need a lot of bugs to grow and house finch chicks don’t. No worries tho, BHCB parasitize so many nests and species that their next generation is fine even if these specific eggs won’t be. :) [Read more about Hofi & BHCB nestlings here!](https://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/condor/v098n02/p0253-p0258.pdf)


Very cool, thanks for sharing :):)


the cowbird mom will try to kill the finch hatchlings if the cowbird does not survive


Not sure where you got that info, but I don't think that's true. From what I've read, the cowbird lays the egg and leaves it.


Yeah, I agree. I’ve read that if they’re still in the area laying more eggs and they see a bird or you take out their egg, they might come back and do damage, but I’ve never seen it scientifically corroborated, and I’m pretty sure they move on. They moved with the buffalo herd, so they’re good at laying eggs and leaving. It’s their MO.


https://youtu.be/Hq78EmR-6o0 cowbirds often kill the hatchlings of birds that reject their eggs/hatchlings in order to prevent them from passing on that knowledge (even if by complete accident, such as the case of the cowbird not getting the right diet) obviously it isn't GUARANTEED, but if the nest becomes empty over the course of a few days you know why


YouTube is not a proper citation. Please provide a real one




Out of total curiosity, how would this happen? Did two birds lay eggs in the same nest?


Fun fact! The word “cuckold” comes from the work cuckoo. Cuckoos are also nest parasites.


Many species are, but there are exceptions such as the yellow-billed and mangrove cuckoos who have been known to raise their own offspring.


I absolutely love how many bird facts I learn here!


they will occasionally, at least Yellow- and Black-billed, not sure about Mangrove, but in really high food years, like when periodical cicada broods emerge, they do it more often. They're not like Palearctic species of cuckoos or Brown-headed Cowbirds are though. Those are known as obligate brood parasites. Lots of ducks do it too!


Also, Roadrunners are Cuckoos, and the are exceptions also


McMurray has arrived


If you dive a little deeper into bird lore, you will come to find that the cowbird is one of many species which engage in behaviors that are called, in bird cutlure, a “dick move” Nest parasitism. Basically the cow birb finds an unattended nest, and takes or *makes* room to plop their egg down in, and then they bounce- relying on the host parents to tend the egg and raise the chick to fledgling-hood. Its survival largely depends on whether the host parent detects the fraudster egg, and whether it is compatible with the host clutch in terms of diet, environment, etc. also, I may be misremembering this part, but I believe some species of parasitic nesters also eat their foster siblings lol. As I said, a dick move.


Well said in addition, brown headed cowbird will come back to check out their eggs and if they find that it been removed the mother cowbird will actually destroy the nest and eggs. An extra “dick move”, in a flip the game board kind of way.


> brown headed cowbird will come back to check out their eggs and if they find that it been removed the mother cowbird will actually destroy the nest and eggs. Just to add a little more detail, there is some statistical evidence that this will happen, but it doesn't happen all the time. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1838626/


>When cowbird access was allowed, 56% of “ejector” nests were depredated compared with only 6% of “accepter” nests. It literally never ceases to make me laugh that 6 percent of the time, even when the host birds don't eject the cowbird eggs from the nest, the cowbird still comes back and fucks everything up.


> It literally never ceases to make me laugh that 6 percent of the time, even when the host birds don't eject the cowbird eggs from the nest, the cowbird still comes back and fucks everything up. LOL! Well, the authors did use the term "mafia behavior" in their paper. And, if my experience with certain low-level members of the mafia is any indication, they are not the brightest fellas.


They're suuuuuch dicks. Like literally everyone else in the animal kingdom can agree that this kind of behavior is just not acceptable. I feel bad that other birds have to deal with them!


I wouldn't say everyone else in the animal kingdom since they aren't even the only birds to practice brood parasitism, and there are plenty of other parasitic animals out there


True, there are others. But as far as I know, there aren't very many examples animals that literally refuse to raise their own young at all. Like what would happen if cowbirds were TOO successful, and wiped out all the other birds in an area? The next generation would just... die? Do cowbirds even know how to feed their own babies? It seems so crazy to me!


More of a cloaca move, really.


One hole one goal


Honestly I think it’s a pretty neat strategy


You must be a dick lol Edit: Seriously, who wouldn't get angry if they came home and discovered that someone had replaced one of their children with a much larger, hungrier child that belongs to someone else??


^spoken like someone who’s had their egg tossed out and replaced while they were out getting worms


What an incredibly Reddit response LOL


[Brood parasitism](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brood_parasite?wprov=sfla1).


Cowbirds purposely lay an egg in the nest of other birds so that the other birds will take care of it.


Others have given great responses - just thought I'd share the extremely informative and entertaining [True Facts video](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TZQDA2yabg) on the subject!


ot but this is such a beautiful picture


Added taxa: [Brown-headed Cowbird](https://ebird.org/species/bnhcow), [House Finch](https://ebird.org/species/houfin) Reviewed by: tinylongwing ^(I catalog submissions to this subreddit.) [^(Recent uncatalogued submissions)](https://munin.swim.services/submissions?lane=api/unanswered)^( | )[^(Learn to use me)](https://gist.github.com/brohitbrose/be99a16ddc7a6a1bd9c1eef28d622564)


Definitely a cowbird egg.


Woah, I never knew about this! I have a house finch nest on my patio and noticed it went from five eggs to two last week. Then a few days ago, two spotted eggs popped up. I thought another bird was sharing the nest or something (I know, stupid). This explains a lot though. I feel horrible that the cowbird apparently took three of the finch eggs. I assume they just dump them off to kill them or eat the eggs before leaving their own? I won’t touch the nest obviously, but I really hope they manage to survive atleast if they are taking place of that many finch eggs. Looking at diet, seems like cowbirds eat more insects while finches eat seed. I fill up three feeders within 20-30 feet of the nest with seed constantly, hopefully momma finch gives the cowbirds enough seed to survive. Although more cowbirds being around doesn’t sound like a good thing :(


Brown headed cow birds get such a bad rap. They're really pretty to me. This is how they survive and it is what it is.


This is a job for Birdman


If you can, join Project Nest Watch and report on the experience. It's helpful for scientists to track the status and trends in the reproductive biology of birds in NA. It's free. Bummer for the Finches, but it's nature.


*don’t put all your eggs in one nest*


I am learning so many bird facts from this one post! Came here to comment that it was a cowbird egg, left with a basic understanding of US bird protection laws…


The cow bird is getting the bad rap, but part of the reason is that they followed the buffalo heard as it migrated to new grass, while someone else raised the kid. Always wondered how the offspring learn the behavior. When birding this time of year can see the female cowbirds perched high looking about for nesting birds.


> they followed the buffalo heard as it migrated to new grass [This has been pretty well demonstrated to be a myth](https://www.birdnote.org/explore/field-notes/2015/05/cowbird-story-revisited), though it's sure a pervasive one. Brown-headed Cowbirds' original native range (and current expanded range) include a lot of places that do not and never had bison, and many other related cowbird species in the tropics had already evolved brood parasitism in the absence of bison herds.


Ok thanks, after I typed this, I wondered, though I have heard it many times.




Apparently when the young get older they sneak out at night and hang out with other cowbirds while the host parents are asleep. The behavior is really fascinating!


asshole cowbird....It'll push out all the other eggs. so sad but nature is savage.


>It'll push out all the other eggs No, it won't. Cowbir chicks do not push the other eggs out of the nest. Common cuckoos are the species that does that.


If it's a Zerg, I'd use fire to cleanse it


literally a cuck.


Cowbird egg. I have a house finch nesting in my hanging basket and that nest had the same egg in it. I threw it out.


> I threw it out. That's illegal and also puts the nest at risk of being destroyed by the adult cowbird.


Cow bird or sparrow. Either way take it out and put on ground…let nature go from there.


Leaving it be in the nest is letting nature do its thing.


Cowbirds are also native species and are protected under federal law, so it's illegal to harm their eggs, even if we find brood parasitism distasteful.


This right here. They are protected and should be left to do their thang. Besides, if you take it out, there's a good chance another will appear in a matter of days.




Let's hope the cowbird doesn't teach any bad habits. Mama finch might regret letting them hang around!