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Title:A stranger in the nest
Author(s):Lawson, Shelby
Abstract:If I asked you to identify the stranger in the nest, your first guess might be the metal button on the side of it. While the button is certainly out of place in a natural nest, the real stranger is the top right egg. Did you notice that it was bigger and more speckled than the others? This is a yellow warbler nest, but the bigger egg is from a brown-headed cowbird, a brood-parasitic bird that lays its egg in the nests of other birds. I study a special “seet” call that the warblers make to warn each other of nearby cowbirds. When female warblers hear the call, they rush back to their nests and sit on it to prevent cowbirds from sneaking in a foreign egg. We use the button to measure temperature, so that we can tell when the mama bird is on or off the nest. Combined with playbacks of cowbird calls, we use the button data to learn about how yellow warblers sit on their nests to defend against parasitism, and if they sit on nest more in the following days if they think cowbirds are around, waiting for their chance to parasitize the nest.
Issue Date:2021
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Shelby Lawson
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-04-12

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