Brood Parasite

Brood Parasite

The cowbird cares only for her own
propagation. Nest-stealer, child-trader.
A clutch of brown-spotted eggs
sheltered elsewhere. The cowbird
merely uses what others have created.
Others raise her children.
Others feed her young.
If her child stabs a fragile fledging
from the colonized species
with a beak that hungers for more,
this is no injustice. The cowbird is not evil.
Survival is a promise of life, not a tragedy
to mourn.

Yet just as the brood parasite
has no reason to question her good fortune
in finding the nest she occupies, takes from,
ruins,
so do tired citizens
swoop into a nest they did not build,
gorging themselves on a strict diet
of everything they crave.
They say, All I want is to live here
and not think of the other eggs,
other birds. Why must I
think of them?


Most hosts know this song.
After all, the cowbird is native to the prairie,
as American as bison.
When she eats before the others,
the cowbird
does not see herself as a parasite.


Diane Callahan strives to capture her sliver of the universe through writing fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. As a developmental editor and ghostplotter, she spends her days shaping stories. Her YouTube channel, Quotidian Writer, provides practical tips for aspiring authors. You can read her poetry in The Hellebore, The Sunlight PresssemicolonVita BrevisThe Interpreter’s HouseRust+Moth, and Kissing Dynamite, among others.

[image: Bet Zimmerman Smith | Brown-headed Cowbird egg in an Eastern Bluebird nest]

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