When Things Go According to Plan...

In nature, it rarely happens.  This Spring though, after a failed nest of Prothontary Warblers in 2016 and no nest last year, five new chicks survived and thrived at our Farmette. 
In 2016, the culprit was a Cowbird; they are parasitic birds.  Meaning the mother lays an egg in the nest of another bird species for their offspring to be cared for by the adoptive parents and out-compete their own chicks.  It's easy to hate a cowbird, but strangely, when I read that a cowbird raised by a Prothontary Warbler will only ever lay an egg in a PROW nest, I felt almost sorry for them.

But not enough to prevent them from nesting again.  Now, Cowbirds are protected by the Migratory Bird Act, so all I'm allowed is to outsmart them.  The key thing was the hole in the bird house they used was just a smidge too big.  It was custom made and I met up with the maker to explain my distress and request a smaller opening.  He's an older guy, a bit set in his ways and was not open to this (as his birdhouse holes are!)  So, I began looking and studying birdhouses and ironically, buying birdseed at Lowe's I found the one that worked.  For all of $13.  It also had a nice side viewing door. 
Around the same time, I found in someone's garbage pile (not too proud here!), a realtor's pole with the arm broken.  Perfect for our warblers...and way heavier than I imagined, but I was not leaving that behind.  Now with a nest box and new pole, it still took months to install.  In fact, the week I heard PROW's reached our coast line in Louisiana, I finally installed it.
Mama PROW utilizing our husky's fur!  You'll see it in the nest pics soon...

Two or three weeks later, I pulled into driveway to see a kerfuffle of yellow...two male PROW's fighting.  I soon noticed a female with one of the males, bringing nesting materials in their designated box (how did they know?!)  They also went to a dummy nest box too; many references say the male starts several nest and the female picks one.  I actually believe this is to throw predators off, like the cowbird, because long after there were eggs, the male still made a big show at the fake nest.

And yes, once I witnessed a female cowbird peering in the box.  My three year old son had a non medical emergency, i.e. bumped his head whilst doing something he wasn't suppose to...so I never saw if she made it in.  But there was never a cowbird egg...just five glorious PROW eggs.  Each made it; and fledged in about 10 days. 
I still see the male once in awhile.  Both the female and male were comfortable with me and often would visit me near the greenhouse.  I sort of hoped for a second brood and maybe they went a bit further out in our woods and found a woodpecker hole.  Still, it makes me giddy and a little teary-eyed that these new 5 souls, that typically travel over 4000 miles in migration, began their journey at Happinest!
~Lisa

Comments