The brown-headed cowbird does not build its own nest or raise its young. Instead, it lays its eggs in the nests of other birds and leaves the arduous job of raising its young up to them.
The brown-headed cowbird lays its eggs in the nests of more than two hundred species of birds. The list of birds parasitized by this nest parasite includes backyard favorites such as northern cardinals, brown thrashers, and northern mockingbirds.
In many cases, although their eggs look very different from the eggs of the unsuspecting host birds, the hosts accept them as their own. As such, they end up raising cowbird hatchlings along with their own young.
Interestingly, gray catbirds are rarely parasitized by brown-head-headed cowbirds. Biologists believe this is because, unlike far too many birds, catbirds seem to be able to distinguish color and size differences between their own eggs and those of the cowbird. As such, when a nesting catbird discovers a brown-headed cowbird egg in its nest, it unceremoniously removes it.
Two species of moles inhabit Georgia. The eastern mole ranges across the entire state except northeast Georgia. In this corner of the state, it is replaced by the star-nosed mole.
The eastern mole prefers eating earthworms; however, it will also devour snails, centipedes, and both adult and larval insects including ants. In fact, this rarely seen backyard resident will even burrow into ant mounds in search of tangy ants.
The purple martin is a cavity nester. Historically it nested in such places as woodpecker holes, natural cavities in trees and even in the crevices of cliffs. Purple martins nesting in the western United States still utilize these traditional nesting sites. However, since sometime prior to 1900, such is not the case in the eastern United States. Here our largest swallow appears to have completely abandoned naturally occurring nesting sites.
In all of my years working as a wildlife biologist, I never encountered purple martins nesting in a natural cavity or woodpecker hole. However, years ago I found a pair of purple martins nesting in broken light fixture at a convenience store.
As I pumped gas into my vehicle, I watched a purple martin bringing food to its young housed beneath the plastic cover over a fluorescent light illuminating the fueling area.
If you have ever seen martins nesting in anything other than nest boxes or gourds, please let me know.
Measuring only 7 1/4″ in length, the orchard oriole is the smallest oriole found in North America.
Chances are, if you find an oriole is nesting in your yard, it is going to be an orchard oriole. Orchard orioles breed statewide from late April to mid-June.
Orchard orioles can be frequently seen using birdbaths for bathing and water.
Although this oriole rarely visits seed feeders, they will drink nectar from hummingbird feeders.
Also, look for them feeding on nectar contained in trumpet creeper blossoms.
If you want to catch a glimpse of one of the beautiful little orioles, don’t procrastinate; they leave Georgia for their winter home as early as July.
The chipping sparrow is one of our most common backyard birds. It is interesting to note, that during its breeding season, which begins in early April and peaks in May and June, it is also one of our most vocal breeding birds.
Biologists have determined that during this special time of the year a male chipping sparrow sings its song approximately 330 times per hour throughout a day that begins well before daylight.
Talk about stamina!
For some reason, male downy woodpeckers have a tendency to feed higher in trees among smaller branches than females. In comparison, female downies are more likely to hunt for food along a tree’s trunk and larger branches.
In Georgia, bluebirds will begin nesting as early as late February. However, throughout most of the state, bluebirds typically do not initiate nesting until March.
Bluebird expert Ron Lee has recorded bluebirds nesting on his property located just south of Atlanta in Henry County as early as the second week in March.
It is obvious; if you have been planning to put up a bluebird box or two, do not delay any longer.