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  • Last summer I watched a saga all through the day. While the cardinals stay around in all seasons, they seldom come to the feeder. I think it's because I have it so close to my office window. Yet on this day, the cardinal was at the feeder all day long. The PAPA cardinal. He was teaching 'his' young to eat and to fly. His young was a not a cardinal at all. It was a cowbird. An innocent baby cowbird who just happened to find itself in a cardinal nest...whatever the circumstance.

    Given my experience with adoption where my son, from the Amazon and finding himself in our-now-global family...and not by his choice, I saw the cardinal and cowbird in that same way. I saw the cowbird as having been adopted by the cardinal. Why not?

    What about the adult cowbirds who put their eggs in the cardinals' nest? Not the baby cowbird's doing. What about the circumstances of Michael being available for adoption? Not his doing.

    Having said all of that, I bow in appreciation that the 'elephant in the room'...or the 'parasite-cowbird in the room'...has been named. Having also grown up with a poor opinion of cowbirds myself, I notice I feel relief about that.

    Recently I suggested to a friend that he join Cowbird. He got this scrunched-up look on his face and said, "Are you kidding? I grew up with cowbirds. I hated them! No matter that I'm a writer, I really don't think I could join a group called Cowbird!"

    His loss. Guess we each find our own True North on this one, huh?

    To end on a note of lightness...When I looked at the Cowbird FAQs, one of the questions was, "Why wasn't it called Birdcow?" I enjoyed the response: "That would just be ridiculous." :)

    [Photo by Barbara, through my office window, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Summer 2011]
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