Tuesday, May 26, 2009

WINDSOR HAS THE FRANKENSQUIRREL, LEAMINGTON HAS A TWO-HEADED COWBIRD (not really!)

Warning: this post contains icky forensic birding info and is not for the squeamish or those having a late breakfast...













The same day last week that I talked to the Point Pelee Ranger about the weird molting squirrel in Windsor, I also asked about a strange-looking female brown-headed cowbird who had obligingly hung around my yard long enough for me to get these photos. They aren't the greatest shots, and don't enlarge because they're so cropped, but I think you still can see the odd large bump on the back of her head. My first thought was that it might be a tick, but after checking with Google images for pictures of ticks on birds (gross - not recommended!) I looked through binoculars and decided it probably wasn't a tick. Ticks usually go for the path of least resistance, and attach to the featherless areas around a bird's eye and beak. And even a fully engorged tick is nowhere near the size of the bump on the cowbird, which was almost like it had another head. Hmmm. Anyway, the Ranger said the bird may have been attacked by a predator, and gotten away with a scratch or peck injury, it could even have been a tick that the bird was able to remove most, but not all, of (shudder!) She said it could be anything that broke the skin and then led to infection. Very infected indeed, I'd say. I saw the bird two days in a row, but haven't seen her lately.



Whatever was the cause, it didn't seem to deter suitors. While I watched, two males came up and did their wing-bow display to her. Of course, males also do an aggression display to each other that looks identical, to my human eye at least, so I can't be sure if the males were saying to Ms. Big Head, "Hey baby" or "Get out of my face, you pimple-headed freak!" Wherever she is, I hope she's doing well. And if the birds around here don't treat her right, I know a fuzzy squirrel in Windsor who will give her lots of sympathy and understanding.

To leave you on a more cheery and appealing note, here's a video my friend Nancy in High Country forwarded to me. Very cute!

14 comments:

Sylvia K said...

OMG! you do get the weird ones! Well, I'm glad that at least she isn't getting scorned and called ugly names!

Great video! Thanks, Deborah, and have a great week!

bobbie said...

I'm glad she doesn't seem distressed by it.

What a fun video!

Lin said...

wild video, i showed it to my hubby-he's from texas and he said there are a lot of deer there.

Aleta said...

Okkkkk.... that IS a strange looking bird. Is the water safe over there? ;-)

Poetikat said...

Ever see that movie, "How to Get Ahead in Advertising"? The Guy has an enormous carbuncle on his neck that talks to him.
We've had tilty squirrels, but no two-headed birdies.

Hey, come on down and pick up your award over at my place (Keepsakes).

Kat

fourwindsphotojournal said...

Wow, I am gone for a couple of days, and I miss all of this? Poor bird! I have read of fish in rivers up your way with strange shapes and extra this and that.

I did see a dragonflie with lumps last year once. It seemed to be able to fly okay.

Hope you had a nice holiday. Ours was kind of hectic.

SandyCarlson said...

You get all the anomalies. Wow. I hope she is well.

Ruth said...

Nature is full of interesting anomalies. Most of us don't come across as many as you do! ;-)

Shellmo said...

Between the frankensquirrel and the 2 headed cowbird - I think you have the beginnings of the perfect horror movie - lol! Glad the cowbird was still able to attract some suitors!

Naturegirl said...

Poor bird..sending sympathy her way. I suppose Mother Nature will decide what's best.sigh.

Beth P. said...

Deb--
Enjoyed this post--and hope that poor bird survives its affliction. Wow.

'Stole' your youtube for the front page of the Virtual Tea House. It's so sweet!

Thank you--

Quiet Paths said...

That is indeed very odd looking. A growth perhaps?

Quiet Paths said...

Ian and I just watched the video; amazing! A toast eating deer.

Indrani said...

Great observation!
I too hope she is doing well.