Weekly Puzzler #117: Foster Parents…but Not by Choice!

Last week’s puzzler was the song of an eastern towhee, an attractive bird common to the eastern United States. As I was learning about this bird I discovered that in some areas nearly half of its nests are parasitized by this week’s puzzler.

An eastern towhee's nest

An eastern towhee’s nest

Do you know who would lay their eggs in an eastern towhee’s nest? Not only does this mystery bird skip nest building in favor of laying its eggs in OTHER bird’s nests! it also will remove one of the mother towhee’s eggs, making it even harder for this poor, unsuspecting mother to notice anything amiss.

Do you know what bird I am talking about? This bird doesn’t make its own nest! Instead, it dedicates its energy to laying eggs–sometimes more than 3 dozen during a summer! It lays its eggs in the nests of other birds, including the eastern towhee and 220 other species!, and then leaves them there for the other mothers to feed and raise! Unfortunately the original mom doesn’t really get a choice in the matter and often raises the “odd egg” at the expense of her own babies.

If you want to guess, use the comment box below. All correct guesses will be entered in the next drawing (First day of Fall). Good luck!

And have a wonderful weekend! I hope to see you again soon.

This entry was posted in Animals, Birds, Weekly Puzzler and tagged , , .


  1. Michael Mammoser June 25, 2016 at 2:59 pm #

    The Brown-headed Cowbird is a common brood parasite across the United States, and the most likely candidate for this quiz.

    • Sharon Mammoser June 28, 2016 at 9:43 am #

      Yes! This is right. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Colleen Gilgenbach June 25, 2016 at 11:59 pm #

    The Cowbird. We have a painting of a nest in the gallery with an odd egg in it and someone told me it was a cowbird egg and that they leave their eggs in other birds nests.

    • Sharon Mammoser June 28, 2016 at 9:43 am #

      Colleen, Good job! I thought this puzzler might be a hard one for some subscribers, but everyone is proving me wrong.

  3. Renee Dankert June 26, 2016 at 8:53 am #


    • Sharon Mammoser June 28, 2016 at 9:44 am #

      Renee, You are right, of course! Thanks for guessing.

  4. Helen Kloock June 26, 2016 at 10:01 am #


    • Sharon Mammoser June 28, 2016 at 9:45 am #

      Another correct answer! Thanks for taking time to guess.

  5. Nanci Fletcher June 26, 2016 at 7:00 pm #


    • Sharon Mammoser June 28, 2016 at 9:46 am #

      Nanci, You are right! The cowbird has a fascinating lifecycle, which I will talk about more on Saturday when I publish the answer. Nice to hear from you again!

  6. Hon June 27, 2016 at 6:32 pm #

    Browm-Headed Cowbird

    • Sharon Mammoser June 28, 2016 at 9:47 am #

      I doubt I could ever stump you when the puzzler is about birds! Thanks, as always, for reading and for taking the time to answer.

One Trackback

  1. By Weekly Puzzler Answer #117 on July 2, 2016 at 9:31 am

    […] was surprised to find that several people knew the answer to last week’s puzzler. Were you one of them? But even if you knew the answer, I bet there’s still a lot about this […]