This is a coot.
(Photo by Dan Pacamo.)
These are baby coots.
(Photo by Böhringer Friedrich.)
I… I sure hope nothing bad is going to happen to those little guys.
(Spoiler alert: if you agree with the above statement, you may not want to click the read more.)
I don’t know how else to preface this article. Birds, man.
So I’m willing to bet that a lot of you are aware of brood parasitism à la the cuckoo, and a good number of my followers have probably even heard of the terrifying methods the intraspecific brood parasitic coot uses to weed out the fakers from its progeny.
But have you heard much about this lady?
(Photo by Thomas Quine.)
Looks kind of drab and unassuming, doesn’t she.
(She murders your children if you don’t do what she wants.)
So let’s talk about brood parasitism and why it’s good and why it’s not so good and the different strategies that different bird species use, including mafia behavior. And we’ll talk about the development of male cowbird courtship too because that’s kind of cool. But yeah, lots of bird child murdering coming up just so you’re aware.