Not a question of earth shaking importance, just idle curiosity born out of too many hours watching the bird feeder.
Our cowbirds are the brownheaded variety, and they remain here all year round. This past summer I noticed the occasional cowbird coming to the feeder with their apparent adoptive parents, usually some sort of sparrow couple. The cowbirds were old enough that the parents weren’t feeding them, but there still seemed to be a family unit of sorts.
Fast forward to winter. Now all the cowbirds are hanging out together, with half a dozen at a time crowding on the feeder at a time. Aside from wondering why we suddenly have an uptick in the cowbird population (in past winters, we’d have one or two mixed in with the grackles and starlings, and I’d hardly notice them at all in the summer), I’m trying to figure out when the cowbirds decided, “Wait–I’m not a sparrow! What am I doing hanging out with all these sparrows?”