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Old 04-13-2012, 06:14 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Equilibrium View Post
I'm from where cowbirds are native but.... I'll say this.... years ago I found a cowbird egg in the cavity our screech owls used to nest in. I examined it very closely.... I shook it real good to see if it sounded like other eggs then shook it again just to make sure and put it back and called it a day. No cowbird egg laid in a screech owl's nest is going to survive....screech owl mommas don't feed their babies insects and I had a tough time thinking about it hatching and starving to death. Hard to say what I'd do if I found 1 in a bluebird or purple martin nest because their numbers are precariously low in my state. Any cowbird egg laid in a bb or pm nest is going to outcompete its nest mates so.... tough call... really a tough call on that. I'm pretty sure I'd just take photos if I found 1 in a robin's nest. If I lived out west where they're not native and.... if I had a permit to remove their eggs.... I can honestly say I wouldn't bother "examining" them closely and I'd just remove them from the nest and put em on the ground so a snake or coon could have a nice snack. Cowbirds are no different than bull frogs on the other side of the Continental Divide.... they're both doing irreversible damage to ecosystems into which they've been introduced. I guess what I do depends.... it depends on a lot of things.
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savannah> "These birds are protected by federal laws under the Migratory Bird Act of 1918. I am not sure how you are getting around that." In regions where they are introduced, they're documented as wreaking havoc so permits are available just like we can get permits to addle mute swan eggs. The permits are issued to protect the "native" species from the non-native species. The gal from Texas is in an area where our Eastern cowbirds never existed before the rise of industrialized agriculture. Try real hard to think of them as mild mannered natives on our side of the rockies and cats on the other side of the Rockies and maybe that will help out a little. On our side.... they belong and they're an integral part of the Great Plains on her side.... they're fierce competitors for scarce resources. I dunno if this helps sort things out but I gave it the 'ole college try!
These birds are native to both Texas and Oklahoma. Theres lots of cows down there in Texas, cowbirds are inevitable. Its their natural friend and buffalo replacement.

The problem in that part of Texas appears larger and much more complex than just the lowly cowbird and I started wondering if the bird is perhaps being blamed for more than its responsible for. Seems others indicate this is at the very least a possibility. I'm not really addressing the capture of a few birds in traps or removing eggs on private property. Its the giving license and attending classes learning to kill birds for tax exemption credits in one area while having cows in another I am disturbed about. Seems like it makes as much sense as encouraging one neighbor have a big anthill and rewarding the other for killing the stray ants.

I'm just asking questions and trying to make sense out of it but the idea seems flawed.

Domestic cats and cowbirds are not in the same category at all in my thinking so that one doesn't really work for me.

I think some discussion, study and doubt is warranted. Its easy to start killing lots of birds but common sense says this would have to be an ongoing activity which seems ludicrous and futile. I am reading about other problems such as the loss of habitat on the coasts due to people building there which is affecting the migrating birds. In any case, its not the cowbirds fault. Cowbirds are just being cowbirds. Of course, what our forefathers did to the prairies and buffalo is something we are paying for now or at least some songbirds are paying.


Sometimes I get red flags when so many people are so sure and start in with "experts say...." each repeating the same information over and over. Makes me want to dig in and search to see if there is another side. Seems there is on this one.
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Old 04-21-2012, 09:46 AM   #12
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These birds are native to both Texas and Oklahoma. Theres lots of cows down there in Texas, cowbirds are inevitable. Its their natural friend and buffalo replacement.

The problem in that part of Texas appears larger and much more complex than just the lowly cowbird and I started wondering if the bird is perhaps being blamed for more than its responsible for. Seems others indicate this is at the very least a possibility. I'm not really addressing the capture of a few birds in traps or removing eggs on private property. Its the giving license and attending classes learning to kill birds for tax exemption credits in one area while having cows in another I am disturbed about. Seems like it makes as much sense as encouraging one neighbor have a big anthill and rewarding the other for killing the stray ants.

I'm just asking questions and trying to make sense out of it but the idea seems flawed.

Domestic cats and cowbirds are not in the same category at all in my thinking so that one doesn't really work for me.

I think some discussion, study and doubt is warranted. Its easy to start killing lots of birds but common sense says this would have to be an ongoing activity which seems ludicrous and futile. I am reading about other problems such as the loss of habitat on the coasts due to people building there which is affecting the migrating birds. In any case, its not the cowbirds fault. Cowbirds are just being cowbirds. Of course, what our forefathers did to the prairies and buffalo is something we are paying for now or at least some songbirds are paying.


Sometimes I get red flags when so many people are so sure and start in with "experts say...." each repeating the same information over and over. Makes me want to dig in and search to see if there is another side. Seems there is on this one.
Should man correct his mistakes, or not? Please answer this question.

You state that introducing cats and expanding the range of the brown-headed cowbird are two problems that have been created by man. you are correct.

Man introduced cats and they kill native wildlife, man has several choices. Man can continue this behavior and more outdoor cats will kill more native wildlife. You cannot deny this fact. Man can stop introducing more cats to reduce the current problem. This will not happen, so it is not a valid possible solution. Man can remove the problem that man caused. Capture and kill programs would reduce the number of non-native cats and decrease the damage that they cause to native wildlife. Because idiots will continue to allow their domesticated, imported, animals that kill for pleasure to leave their homes, intelligent people should trap and allow animal control agencies do what the law demands to be done with roaming cats. Man does not allow his domesticated dogs to roam, even though they would have little effect on the environment. Cats are not an exception to good environmental stewardship. People who promote allowing cats to roam (TTVAR) are extremely poor environmental stewards. Capture and fine owner/kill feral cats is the only solution, if native wildlife is the only concern.

Cowbirds have expanded their range and numbers because of human behavior. Removing all humans would be the best solution to this problem. Nature would reclaim the land and cowbirds would return to the plains. That's not going to happen. Many states have cowbird extermination programs to protect native birds from extinction, due to cowbird parasitism. Michigan does it to protect the Kirtland's warbler. California, Texas and Oklahoma have programs. Wildlife management professionals get permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in order to do this. Do you think that they are wrong? Should we allow for the extinction of some species, even if we can prevent it, because a few PETA minded folks care about cowbirds? Common sense rules this discussion.

You also indicate that cowbirds and cows are related and that is a man made problem. Cowbirds used to follow bison herds. They could not build a nest and follow bison. They evolved to use the nests of other birds. Cowbirds followed bison in order to feed. They ate the insects and seed disturbed by the bison. We called them cowbirds because they naturally do the same thing with cattle. I don't have any cattle for miles, but I have a bunch of cowbirds. We removed the forests, where cowbirds don't have a way to eat and nests are hard to find. Where we still have forest, we don't see many cowbirds. Since we are not going to replant forest, should we continue to feed cowbirds at our feeders, where we cleared the forest, and call it good? I do, but female cowbirds don't eat a lot here. I'll argue my case in court if I ever get a ticket.

You are mistaken about the history of the cowbird and you need to know more about the current status of this species. You can be anti-killing without facts, or anti-killing with facts. Let the fact finding begin!
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:45 PM   #13
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I do have a pretty good understanding of the history of the cowbird. I'm not sure what that was about.

I detect a bit of sarcasm in your post.

If they are taking food from your feeders I am sorry and I am not opposed to you taking action. Anyone who puts out feeders is going to get some visitors that are not necessarily what they were aiming for. Would you also consider killing squirrels if they get into your songbird seed? Sparrows? Bluejays? Grackles? My point is, bird feeders that people set out attract all kinds. It is definitely a "man-made" feeding situation and I am sorry yours are being visited by cowbirds when you put them up for songbirds only.

My point was to question the solution being used for these birds but mainly to ask if they are as responsible as believed. There are sources that indicate they are not. I am personally opposed to people who blame the cowbirds as the main problem and come off as if they relish killing them or believe they are being noble by killing them because its a problem we caused, not them. Its the narrow minded attitude I find hard to take along with the fact that the killing of these birds would have to be ongoing to keep things in check.

There are other problems for the songbirds migrating into Texas and I was pointing out that its more complex than cowbirds. The development of the coast, ironically, by many of the same people who are concerned with protecting these birds while removing the habitat they need to survive, is taking a toll.

We killed most of the Native Americans, shot the buffalo almost to extinction, maybe our problem is just a matter of not doing a thorough job by offing the cowbirds while we were at it? Anyone can be pro-killing. That doesn't take much imagination in the area of problem solving but we are each entitled to our own reactions.

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Old 04-21-2012, 04:08 PM   #14
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savannah> Here’s a discussion my husband found that pulls at my heart strings for the cowbird and some of the species it’s successfully out-competing, Cowbirds in Nestboxes (Part 1). I’m really glad he found it. I think you’ll like it but you tell me what you think about it.
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You said the cowbird was native to Oklahoma and Texas…. the brown-headed cowbird actually is native to most of Oklahoma and some parts of TX up north… not down around San Antonia where I saw Daminita was from so in my mind…. her actions are not only justified but warranted. We have to do things we don’t like when attempting to restore some semblance of balance considering there’s several species of threatened and endangered birds where she is gardening and…. where I’m gardening too.
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According to my husband… the birder in this family…. I stand corrected on something….the brown-headed cowbird is not native to where we live…. I didn’t realize it wasn’t indigenous to where I garden. For me…. it’s tough enough choosing which animal gets access to our limited resources and which doesn’t and even tougher when the choice is between 2 species indigenous to the same continent… just not to the same regions. I know we decimated the ecosystems on which the brown-headed cowbird was once dependent. I realize the bird is a highly adaptive species like a house sparrow… I also realize it’s capable of not only surviving in newly adopted homelands where cows have been introduced but is thriving…. unfortunately….. it’s doing this at the expense of some native species that are struggling to survive. The cowbird’s range expansion….is now in part responsible for the degradation of some ecosystems in which it now occurs. It’s believed to be more than capable of extirpating entire species of birds indigenous to the lands it’s now calling home thanks in part to another unnatural introduction…. the cow. I wish I’d never learned the cowbirds weren’t indigenous to where I garden so I wouldn’t be stuck in the horrible position of having to “examine” all cowbirds eggs I find very carefully. My own husband showed me that we’re out of the brown-headed cowbird’s natural range. It sucks learning they’re every bit as invasive where I am just as if they’d been introduced from another continent like the cat was. And….. I think asking questions is good because…. lots of this “stuff” does seem flawed... to me at least.... when we’re left with too few pieces of the puzzle in our hands or the pieces to another puzzle to make informed decisions. There’s so much info out there…. some of it good…. some of it not so good like the information I got from a local Audubon society on the brown-headed cowbird about 10 years ago. Info comes from training seminars, symposiums, forums, newspapers, and even husbands to name a few. There’s so little research available it can be hard sorting fact from fiction but…. usually there’s enough to make informed decisions if we look hard enough…. which I didn’t do back 10 years ago when I took an ornithologist’s statement at face value. Now I feel bad I haven't been “examining” more cowbird eggs since then.
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Did you know we had a North American Cowbird Advisory Council… I didn’t. They address cowbird issues, Molothrus ater - Brown-headed Cowbird -- Discover Life. Scroll about half way down, “the Central American Bronzed Cowbird (M. aeneus) invaded Texas atleast 10 years ago and is well established in the Rio Grande valley. The North American Cowbird Advisory Council was established to serve the DOI agencies as well as state and local agencies with responsibilities for land and resource management. A particular focus is the regional monitoring and control program run by DOI agencies (FWS, NPS, BLM, BOR)in 5 southwestern states to protect the newly listed Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. The council's members include experts on the biology of cowbird parasitism and on the biology of the endangered species for which cowbird parasitism has been identified as a problem in the recovery plans. Council members include representatives of the university scientific community, federal agencies, and private environmental community. Co-chairs are Caldwell Hahn, PWRC, and Stephen Rothstein, UC Santa Barbara. These invasive cowbird species are a cause for management concern because of their extraordinary capacity for range expansion in conjunction with human development and because of the large number of songbirds that are affected by their parasitism. The Brown-headed Cowbird has expanded its range from the Great Plains to the entire continent over the course of the European colonization of North America. It has had a serious negative impact on 4 endangered species as well as on numerous other songbirds. The Brown-headed Cowbird is a complex species to characterize ecologically because it is an extreme host generalist, parasitizing 200 species and exploiting a staggering array of habitats.”
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Old 04-22-2012, 03:02 PM   #15
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fishlkmich

I do have a pretty good understanding of the history of the cowbird. I'm not sure what that was about.
That was about what I read in your posts. You may have "a pretty good understanding". That isn't enough for you to take a stand on a subject. You need to know about the subject in detail. You do not. You also forgot to answer the question that was my first sentence in my post. Please answer it.

Quote:
I detect a bit of sarcasm in your post.
If there was none, it would not be my post.

Quote:
If they are taking food from your feeders I am sorry and I am not opposed to you taking action. Anyone who puts out feeders is going to get some visitors that are not necessarily what they were aiming for. Would you also consider killing squirrels if they get into your songbird seed? Sparrows? Bluejays? Grackles? My point is, bird feeders that people set out attract all kinds. It is definitely a "man-made" feeding situation and I am sorry yours are being visited by cowbirds when you put them up for songbirds only.
I feed millet and milo and cracked corn because house sparrows love them. I encourage those who are not accurate with a weapon to avoid these bird foods. You do not have to apologize to me because I feed birds. I choose to do so for a number of reasons. I have a small game license and shoot squirrel in season, not that it has anything to do with cowbirds. Why would I choose to shoot grackle, bluejay, or native sparrows? They are in harmony with nature. We are discussing a problem.

Quote:
My point was to question the solution being used for these birds but mainly to ask if they are as responsible as believed. There are sources that indicate they are not. I am personally opposed to people who blame the cowbirds as the main problem and come off as if they relish killing them or believe they are being noble by killing them because its a problem we caused, not them. Its the narrow minded attitude I find hard to take along with the fact that the killing of these birds would have to be ongoing to keep things in check.
Again, you know little about the subject. Your objections amount to an objection against killing anything. Each of the four sentences above contain conjecture and opinion. I asked for facts. You provide little evidence that anyone except PETA agrees with you. If you cannot provide evidence that cowbirds have a neutral, or positive, influence on native bird populations, you must admit that they have a negative impact. You already admit that man has caused this problem. Is man responsible for correcting his mistakes? If you question the effect of removing cowbirds as a way to protect native birds, call the Michigan DNR, or the USFWS. Ask them if the Kirtland's warbler would be extinct if they did not control cowbirds. Ask these professionals if they believe that they are narrow minded. Ask them if they believe that they are noble. I believe that they are noble.

Quote:
There are other problems for the songbirds migrating into Texas and I was pointing out that its more complex than cowbirds. The development of the coast, ironically, by many of the same people who are concerned with protecting these birds while removing the habitat they need to survive, is taking a toll.
I agree, totally. We should restore as much native lands as we can. We should reduce the human population and the negative impact that it has. We need to look at these "eco-friendly" wind farms that are killing birds and bats and start using natural gas that has a million wells capped because it's so cheap. Man has been the biggest problem that North America ever faced. Is man responsible for correcting his mistakes?

Quote:
We killed most of the Native Americans, shot the buffalo almost to extinction, maybe our problem is just a matter of not doing a thorough job by offing the cowbirds while we were at it? Anyone can be pro-killing. That doesn't take much imagination in the area of problem solving but we are each entitled to our own reactions.
Huh?

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Old 04-22-2012, 10:33 PM   #16
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I have been researching the subject and I am having some doubts about using cowbird extermination as controls in some cases, but not all cases. The subject of the original post concerned Texas. Here is what I found so far:

"...A serious concern about cowbird control revolves around ethics. When there is reason to believe that cowbird control will have beneficial effects on a threatened or endangered species, only extreme animal-rights advocates are likely to oppose it. When managers initiate cowbird control in a knee-jerk fashion, without determining whether it is really needed, then ethics come into question........ The lack of careful consideration of the killing of cowbird is due to the anthropomorphic view that many people have of a "bird that doesn't care for its young" and that in so doing "kill's someone else's babies". Cowbirds are perfect scapegoats. The state of Texas has even assumed something of a Wild West approach to killing cowbirds. Residents are encouraged to set up cowbird traps on their own property, and one home owner was observed "euthanizing" cowbirds swatting them with a tennis racket. The level of cowbird hysteria is only slightly less extreme in California.

In both states, there is little discussion about the basic facts: Cowbirds are native birds and have become a problem only because of what people have done to the environment.





Your question:
Many states have cowbird extermination programs to protect native birds from extinction, due to cowbird parasitism. Michigan does it to protect the Kirtland's warbler. California, Texas and Oklahoma have programs. Wildlife management professionals get permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in order to do this. Do you think that they are wrong?

Here is some information I found from American Birding (the credit is below).

"Despite skepticism about the benefits ascribed to cowbird control, this management approach was clearly the right thing to do because it did seem that at that time the warbler might go extinct. It was also prudent to continue to control cowbirds while the warbler population remained near 200 pairs. But do we still need to spend roughly a hundred thousand dollars every year to to protect Kirklands Warblers? Managers overseeing the warbler recovery effort believe the answer is yes. But I suspect the answer is no. Recall that the warblers have increased five fold since...... Regardless of whether the answer should be yes or no, managers should certainly end cowbird control for several years to find out. The opinion being pursued now is simply to kill cowbirds ad infinitum, with no effort to determine whether this is necessary."

also, from another source, according to Professor Rothstein concerning efforts to exterminate cowbirds on behalf of declining populations of songbirds:

"...although songbird populations may have recovered in some cases, the extermination of the cowbirds is not the likely explanation for their recovery. The recovery of the Kirtland's Warbler in Michigan is a case in point. The Warbler's nesting habit was well known to require periodic fire. Yet, the scientific managers of this recovery program preferred to kill cowbirds rather than to risk human life and property by not suppressing fire. Nearly 125,000 cowbirds were destroyed in a portion of a small peninsula in Michigan during the period of 1972 to 2002. Although nest parasitism declined significantly, the population of the Kirtland's warbler did not increase until over 20 years later after a large accidental forest fire. In other words, the cowbird is the scapegoat for the choices made by man, in this case the suppression of fire. The Kirtland's Warbler project continues to cost about $100,000 per year, although there is no evidence the warbler is benefitting from it. The money spent on cowbird control every year may total more than one million dollars.
.......This creates a profit motive which results in a "control lobby" that advocates for continuing the program whether or not its effective. [The money] would be put to better use by addressing the underlying problems, such as habitat loss to development or reduced water levels that change vegetation types, as in the case of the declining population of the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher."





You also indicate that cowbirds and cows are related and that is a man made problem. Cowbirds used to follow bison herds. They could not build a nest and follow bison. They evolved to use the nests of other birds. Cowbirds followed bison in order to feed. They ate the insects and seed disturbed by the bison.

Study indicates that the cowbird once inhabited a much larger range than it does today and it dates back millions of years to the wooly mammoth. I don't want to take the time to type the information out right now, but I am finding it a fascinating study in evolution. The cowbird is currently the most hated bird in America. I found this intriguing and its the sort of thing that makes me want to dig deeper and find out why and to see if it is warranted.




I cannot seem to post the article I am using for information, so I typed in a few parts to try to respond to your questions with what I have been finding in my search to understand the problem. I certainly do not condone the attitude of no control at all in every situation. I am not against killing when necessary or the attempt to save an endangered species if the cowbird is threatening it. I'm not a cowbird advocate, this is a new area of interest for me.

However, I am asking questions and looking into the matter and would ask that both sides of the discussion be backed with documented proof if that is the criteria to discuss the subject. From what I am reading (not my opinions), there is room for study and doubt in some of the cases of cowbirds being destroyed from an ethical perspective. (of course that amounts to an opinion.)

One thing I am running into is the way the subject of cowbirds diverts attention and funds away from the biggest problem, namely, destruction of habitat. Should we get rid of people, did I understand that question right? I didn't have anything like that in mind and have never thought such a thing. But, we might consider being more sensitive and a little less aggressive in taking over habitat or if not, decide we are willing to suffer the inevitable loss of species.

Like I posted earlier, we seem to want our cake and eat it too sometimes. I agree that man should be responsible for his actions and repair as far as possible the damage done. We should correct our mistakes but we should make very sure we are not making another one in the process. These are not problems with simple solutions and each should be examined with an open mind free of prejudice or mistaken theories.


The article is titled:
BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD
VILLIAN OR SCPAEGOAT
by Stephen I. Rothstein, Dept of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California.


The article appeared in Birding 2004

American Birding Association
American Birding Association
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Old 04-23-2012, 08:43 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by savannah View Post
I have been researching the subject and I am having some doubts about using cowbird extermination as controls in some cases, but not all cases. The subject of the original post concerned Texas. Here is what I found so far:

"...A serious concern about cowbird control revolves around ethics. When there is reason to believe that cowbird control will have beneficial effects on a threatened or endangered species, only extreme animal-rights advocates are likely to oppose it. When managers initiate cowbird control in a knee-jerk fashion, without determining whether it is really needed, then ethics come into question........ The lack of careful consideration of the killing of cowbird is due to the anthropomorphic view that many people have of a "bird that doesn't care for its young" and that in so doing "kill's someone else's babies". Cowbirds are perfect scapegoats. The state of Texas has even assumed something of a Wild West approach to killing cowbirds. Residents are encouraged to set up cowbird traps on their own property, and one home owner was observed "euthanizing" cowbirds swatting them with a tennis racket. The level of cowbird hysteria is only slightly less extreme in California.

In both states, there is little discussion about the basic facts: Cowbirds are native birds and have become a problem only because of what people have done to the environment.
Thanks for more conjecture and opinion. There isn't a shread of fact based information in that blurb. You should cite your source, as well. This person simply states that they believe wildlife managers don't do their job - hogwash!

Quote:
Your question:
Many states have cowbird extermination programs to protect native birds from extinction, due to cowbird parasitism. Michigan does it to protect the Kirtland's warbler. California, Texas and Oklahoma have programs. Wildlife management professionals get permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in order to do this. Do you think that they are wrong?

Here is some information I found from American Birding (the credit is below).

"Despite skepticism about the benefits ascribed to cowbird control, this management approach was clearly the right thing to do because it did seem that at that time the warbler might go extinct. It was also prudent to continue to control cowbirds while the warbler population remained near 200 pairs. But do we still need to spend roughly a hundred thousand dollars every year to to protect Kirklands Warblers? Managers overseeing the warbler recovery effort believe the answer is yes. But I suspect the answer is no. Recall that the warblers have increased five fold since...... Regardless of whether the answer should be yes or no, managers should certainly end cowbird control for several years to find out. The opinion being pursued now is simply to kill cowbirds ad infinitum, with no effort to determine whether this is necessary."
Now you are adding "suspect" to your list of non-scientific jargon. Sure, lets get the population back down to a few birds and see if we can fix the problem all over again.

Quote:
also, from another source, according to Professor Rothstein concerning efforts to exterminate cowbirds on behalf of declining populations of songbirds:

"...although songbird populations may have recovered in some cases, the extermination of the cowbirds is not the likely explanation for their recovery. The recovery of the Kirtland's Warbler in Michigan is a case in point. The Warbler's nesting habit was well known to require periodic fire. Yet, the scientific managers of this recovery program preferred to kill cowbirds rather than to risk human life and property by not suppressing fire. Nearly 125,000 cowbirds were destroyed in a portion of a small peninsula in Michigan during the period of 1972 to 2002. Although nest parasitism declined significantly, the population of the Kirtland's warbler did not increase until over 20 years later after a large accidental forest fire. In other words, the cowbird is the scapegoat for the choices made by man, in this case the suppression of fire. The Kirtland's Warbler project continues to cost about $100,000 per year, although there is no evidence the warbler is benefitting from it. The money spent on cowbird control every year may total more than one million dollars.
.......This creates a profit motive which results in a "control lobby" that advocates for continuing the program whether or not its effective. [The money] would be put to better use by addressing the underlying problems, such as habitat loss to development or reduced water levels that change vegetation types, as in the case of the declining population of the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher."
The Michigan DNR disagrees with your professor:

"Kirtland's warbler reproductive success has improved dramatically since cowbird trapping began. The nest parasitism rate has declined from the 1966 71 average of 69% to less than 5%. Average clutch size has increased from 2.3 eggs per nest to more than four. The average number of young warblers fledged per nest increased from less than one to almost three birds during the same period. The 2002 annual census counted over 1000 singing males for the second year in a row."

Reference:
DNR - Kirtland's Warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii)

Quote:
You also indicate that cowbirds and cows are related and that is a man made problem. Cowbirds used to follow bison herds. They could not build a nest and follow bison. They evolved to use the nests of other birds. Cowbirds followed bison in order to feed. They ate the insects and seed disturbed by the bison.

Study indicates that the cowbird once inhabited a much larger range than it does today and it dates back millions of years to the wooly mammoth. I don't want to take the time to type the information out right now, but I am finding it a fascinating study in evolution. The cowbird is currently the most hated bird in America. I found this intriguing and its the sort of thing that makes me want to dig deeper and find out why and to see if it is warranted.

I cannot seem to post the article I am using for information, so I typed in a few parts to try to respond to your questions with what I have been finding in my search to understand the problem. I certainly do not condone the attitude of no control at all in every situation. I am not against killing when necessary or the attempt to save an endangered species if the cowbird is threatening it. I'm not a cowbird advocate, this is a new area of interest for me.

However, I am asking questions and looking into the matter and would ask that both sides of the discussion be backed with documented proof if that is the criteria to discuss the subject. From what I am reading (not my opinions), there is room for study and doubt in some of the cases of cowbirds being destroyed from an ethical perspective. (of course that amounts to an opinion.)

One thing I am running into is the way the subject of cowbirds diverts attention and funds away from the biggest problem, namely, destruction of habitat. Should we get rid of people, did I understand that question right? I didn't have anything like that in mind and have never thought such a thing. But, we might consider being more sensitive and a little less aggressive in taking over habitat or if not, decide we are willing to suffer the inevitable loss of species.
We don't have to suffer the loss of a species. We can protect many species from extinction by correcting our mistakes. Is the loss of some cowbirds better than the extinction of some species?

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Like I posted earlier, we seem to want our cake and eat it too sometimes. I agree that man should be responsible for his actions and repair as far as possible the damage done. We should correct our mistakes but we should make very sure we are not making another one in the process. These are not problems with simple solutions and each should be examined with an open mind free of prejudice or mistaken theories.
These programs are used in specific habitats where cowbird control is known to help birds that have been identified as being endangered. The cowbird is not and never will be endangered. They are effective parasites that will continue to diminish the numbers of song birds in North America.

I asked you for peer reviewed documentation that proves that cowbird control does not produce the intended result. You have yet to do so.
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Old 04-23-2012, 01:52 PM   #18
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It is obvious your mind is made up on this subject. Just because a species is not endangered doesn't mean it is OK to exterminate it. The cowbird is an evolutionary success story. I know that. I am looking at this from an ethical standpoint. Some instances call for action but other situations, from all indications, appear unnecessary or at least should be studied with an open mind to find if this is the real cause for demise of a species. This will be considered conjecture, I am sure because I am basing that opinion on what I have read.

I have no desire to argue with someone who is sarcastic and demanding, its just not worth the effort and wasted time and it feels creepy. I am not saying you are wrong and I am right. I am not 100% sure like you are and its is a subjective topic for me, not personal. Nature is slow moving and its difficult to always be so sure. I am finding some room for doubt in some situations and have questions about methods of dealing with the problem of endangered songbirds and the causes for this.

Indications are the problem with habitat disappearing is because of development and other man related causes as the real culprit rather than the spread of the cowbirds, which is a symptom. Treating symptoms rarely fixes problems. This is a maligned and reviled bird. I doubt I would find much in the way of interest or in questioning the ethics of the ongoing extermination as a solution to save more appealing species of birds.
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Old 04-23-2012, 02:03 PM   #19
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Sometimes there are folk who know they should do something but can't get over the hump of doing it themselves..... I'm sorta 1 of those people. I know.... my bad but.... I do have a husband shooting HOSPs and EUSTs while I'm more of a "facilitator" because I trap and let him take care of em.
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The cowbirds are definitely trickier in some people's minds because they're a bird that's native to North America.... just not native to most of the US. HOSPs and EUSTs are a slam dunk in my mind because they're not native to anywhere on this continent. I think once people start realizing just how much damage all these invaders are doing in their newly adopted homelands.... it's a little easier understanding why we've got to do something even if it's just supporting those who are out there dealing with them. I know my husband would shoot a cowbird.... he told me he would. But.... they don't come to the birdfeeder we put the cheap seed in and they're not attracted to the martin house we put up that still has no purple martins calling it home. I've yet to catch 1 in any of my traps so all that leaves is nest checks for their eggs. I don't have a problem "inspecting" their eggs just like I don't have a problem addling mute swan eggs. Could I wring their necks.... no. It's just not in me even though I know I should and it's not for lack of training either. I've been trained on how to properly wring their necks and I still can't do it sooooo.... I've decided I'm going to take an appleseed. I'm thinking that if I could learn how to shoot really good with a BB gun that I'd probably be able to kill a HOSP or a EUST with 1 BB to the head just as long as I knew my aim would be good enough to do it right the 1st shot without hitting something else or just injuring the bird leaving it to fly off and die a miserable death some where. I don't know if I'll be able to or not but.... I'm thinking I might if I could just learn how to shoot well enough. I've always felt bad dumping this on my husband all the time and even worse when he's traveling and I've got to drive them over to a neighbor to kill em for me.
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1 thing's for sure.... I'm definitely going to be "examining" any cowbird eggs I find from here on out. I had no clue until my husband said something that cowbirds weren't locally native. I either totally misunderstood that speaker from Audubon or the guy was speaking in broader terms about cowbirds being native to IL and I didn't catch on that they weren't native to all of Illinois but either way... I shoulda checked into this years ago and now I'm feeling guilt for not doing more nest checks since cowbirds are for sure well established here now.
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Ya know something.... I don't think there's a person out there who doesn't begrudge fixing other people's mistakes. I like it about as much as I'm sure others like fixing my mistakes but mistakes with such horrible consequences.... have to be fixed... they just have to. They can't just be swept under the carpet because ignoring them doesn't make em go away. It's not like any of us wiped out the grasslands or the bison and none of us were even alive when HOSPs and EUSTs were 1st released in Central Park but.... these birds are well established.... they're wreaking havoc and.... I'm not the only 1 feeling a deep sense of responsibility to the native birds these birds are obliterating. Maybe I can't wring their necks.... doesn't mean I can't do something to help restore some semblance of balance in my neck of the woods even if it means dropping what I'm doing and driving a whole trap over to a neighbor's house.
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Old 04-23-2012, 03:03 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Equilibrium View Post
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1 thing's for sure.... I'm definitely going to be "examining" any cowbird eggs I find from here on out. I had no clue until my husband said something that cowbirds weren't locally native. I either totally misunderstood that speaker from Audubon or the guy was speaking in broader terms about cowbirds being native to IL and I didn't catch on that they weren't native to all of Illinois but either way... I shoulda checked into this years ago and now I'm feeling guilt for not doing more nest checks since cowbirds are for sure well established here now.
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Equil, I would do the same thing. If your birds aren't "in the know", they would benefit with the help. Cowbirds lay a lot of eggs just to cover the rejections. There is no way a person could go around and examine every bird nest so its just a drop on the bucket. (I think I would don a pair of dishwashing gloves by the way)

It depends on how far back you are looking concerning the habitat of the cowbirds. They found evidence of them along with the wooly mammoths in California and their habitat has shifted many times. I read the Conquistadors encountered buffalo when they crossed over the border from Mexico. It seems likely cowbirds were probably with them. Its a fascinating subject but best of all, it opened up another entire subject to read about. The various wildlife "dastardly villains" throughout American history, the prevailing scientific opinions of the day and the attempts made to fix them. It kind of sets some ideas into perspective.

Wringing necks? Uh, I don't think so. I couldn't do that either.
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