Cowbird | Nearby As I Mowed

I mowed the lawn today. During my second swath through the side yard, I noticed a small bird fly down into the clippings not very far from me. Sometimes a barnswallow will fly nearby trying to catch insects scared up by the mower. They are fun to watch as they are excellent low level flyers. But, this bird flew over and landed within two feet of the discharge side of the mower. It was getting blasted by the clippings. Now and then, it picked up something in its beak.

I stopped several times to avoid running over it. It seemed unafraid. I reached down to see if it would come to my hand. It looked cautiously and hopped a little farther away. As soon as I started moving the mower, it got right back into the clippings discharge. Strange bird with a death wish or something.

I left the mower and ran inside for the camera. I called for Melanie to come out and see. I stood next to the mower handle and recorded this short clip. It hopped up toward me. You can see the shadow of the handle and hear the mower.

Later, I tried to ID the bird. It appears to be a juvenile female brown headed cowbird. Here are more pictures from the Google machine.


15 thoughts on “Cowbird | Nearby As I Mowed

    1. Jim in IA Post author

      A few weeks ago there were dozens of blackbirds roaming the lawn. I guess some type of insect was emerging. They were cleaning up and getting a big meal.

  1. shoreacres

    It’s fun to watch the birds when they find an easy source of food. Cattle egrets are the most obvious down here. One farmer with a tractor and plow can bring in a hundred birds or more. It’s neat that you got a video of your little friend.

    You’ve probably figured out by now my taste in music’s pretty eclectic. There was a local group called the Flying Fish Sailors who were big on Irish music, sea chanteys, and novelty tunes. You might enjoy this one, called “Mow, Johnny, Mow.”

    1. Jim in IA Post author

      I must admit, you do have eclectic taste in music. I must say, it is clever and a good listen.


      I watched a humorous show on PBS, I think, called Lawn Order. It was about people’s obsession with lawn care.

  2. Mrs. P

    A brazen little fellow. I had a friend who had a bold little kitten that would attack (play) with anything moving such as a broom, mop or vacuum cleaner. I too had that death wish feeling when it tried to go after the lawn mower. I was so afraid he’d get himself into real trouble, I had to put him inside when we mowed.

  3. Jim Wheeler

    What it is, I think, is evolution at work. We humans are not the only species seeking innovation, which is why, I submit, that there are oxpecker birds which groom the backs of cattle and hippos, and Egyptian plovers which peck at and clean the teeth of crocodiles. Nature is amazing. Maybe some cowbirds are branching off into lawnmower birds? 🙂

  4. OceanDiver

    Considering that a lawn mower must look and sound like a dragon to a tiny hopping bird, it must have had a good reason to be standing in the clippings spray. Strange! Good thing you noticed it though, that would wreck your day running over a baby bird, even a parasitic cowbird. We have to watch out for garter snakes when mowing – they like tall grass.


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