Die, intruder!

Die, intruder!
Illustration by Lou Beach / For The Time
Birders' extreme prejudice toward the brown-headed cowbird — a "brood parasite" that deposits up to 40 eggs a year in the nests of smaller species — surfaced online this month. Here are snippets from

I just found a blue speckled cowbird's egg nestled next to the white ones belonging to the phoebe, in HER nest where she has lived happily for the past 5 yrs. Can I remove cowbird's egg w/o out scaring off the phoebes?

Linda Jones


It's probably against the law to remove the cowbird egg — protected native species and all. Although, if I found a cowbird egg, personally I would make the thing into an omelet. I will now don my CompuServe Special Asbestos Suit and stand back from the can of worms …

S.P. McCool

Crawfordville, Fla.


Nat Winston III

Hermitage, Tenn.

I cannot resist: Who are we to say the cowbird is more evil than the phoebe? Maybe the phoebe has led an evil life, killing countless innocent insects, while the cowbird is largely a vegetarian. :-) Sure, cowbirds have spread east and benefited from land-use changes since 1492. But phoebes also have benefited greatly from structures we have built. If it were in my yard I would leave the birds and the eggs alone.

David M. Mark

Amherst, N.Y.

Take the cowbird egg. There are too many cowbirds.

Bob Fisher

Independence, Mo.

Since MAN is responsible for destroying the habitats [of] so many songbirds … and MAN has created the habitat borders (through that same habitat destruction) that foster cowbird populations, only MAN can take the steps necessary to attempt to bring species survival back into balance.

Therefore, MAN must destroy cowbirds and cowbird eggs (and starlings and house sparrows) whenever possible….

Bill Adams


You vote for taking the egg out? Me too…. Let's get rid of the cowbirds, and while we're at it, if one sharp-shinned hawk eats only one warbler, wren, vireo, phoebe or other small and lovely little bird a day, by shooting a mated pair of Sharpies we can save … let's see now … wow … something like 720 small birds per year….

Barry Kent MacKay

Markham, Ontario, Canada

And there I thought I had joined a birding group, how bloody naive of me!

Martyn Stewart

Redmond, Wash.