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Title:Abandoned Egg of a Brood Parasite
Author(s):Scharf, Hannah
Abstract:This abandoned egg comes from something known as a brood parasite - not a tapeworm or a tick like the first thing that comes to mind with the word "parasite" - but instead, a bird. The brood parasite that laid this egg was a brown-headed cowbird, which always lays its eggs into the nest of another bird, "freeloading" by shirking its parental duties. I study the interactions between the cowbird and one of their host species, the prothonotary warbler. Although the warbler accepts cowbird eggs most of the time, they occasionally bury cowbird eggs in their nest. This cowbird egg was found at the bottom of a nestbox a month after the warbler breeding season was finished. Cowbirds pose a problem to warblers because they grow larger than the other nestlings and eat much of the food the parents bring back to the nest. By studying interactions between cowbirds and their hosts, I hope to better understand how brood parasites choose their hosts and how hosts themselves are physiologically and socially affected by brood parasites.
Issue Date:2020
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Hannah Scharf
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-04-15

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