|Female Brown-headed cowbird|
Today, I had my own experience of observing a small animal to learn its relationship in the food web of my backyard. As I was pulling weeds in my vegetable garden, a female, brown-headed cowbird landed next to my rhubarb. My squat become a permanent statue.While removing the lesser celandine that dominate my garden, she drew closer and braver showing no inhibitions to the possibility that I could be a predator. I could have reached out and grabbed her. My weed peeling revealed many pill bugs. However, she wasn't interested, maybe because they are all crust and no juice. She spotted a brown, quarter-sized spider and snatched it. She struggled with it for a few seconds before she crushed its body and devoured it. There is nothing like the predator prey relationship in nature, no matter how big or small the creatures. It is still fascinating to watch. She is not a carnivore but an omnivore, occasionally feasting on the plentiful helicopters that litter my yard. It is the bugs she preferred though. Saving the best for last, she caught sight of a bug larva. With precision, she plucked the cream-colored larva from the fresh soil. It wiggled to gain its freedom from her beak but lost the battle within milliseconds. Larva to birds are like gummy worms to kids; irresistible sweetness. As I noticed lactic acid build up in my quads, I didn't want to move for fear of missing the show. She occasionally tilted her head to the sky to check for predators, not being afraid that I could be one. After devouring the available protein, it was time for her to fill her tummy elsewhere in my neighborhood. She spread her wings and took off. My matinee performance ended with a smile.