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Last time, I took a quick tour of the various sorts of nests birds build, again showing how many ways there are to be a bird. The brown-headed cowbird not only skips nest building, it doesn’t even raise its own young. If you have teenagers, you might find this idea to be appealing.

The brown-headed cowbird is not alone. Other species of cowbirds in the genus Molothrus — screaming, shiny, bronzed and giant — do the same thing. They lay their eggs in the nests of other species and then walk away. Well, fly away. These species are called brood parasites because they parasitize other species’ broods. Like other parasites, they take, and they do not give.

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