It gets harder, as I think more about things, to shoot something just because I disagree with it’s lifestyle.

It was not so hard to shoot a big blacksnake last summer that was crawling up an oak tree to eat the little bluebirds in a bluebird box I had attached to it.

He made me realize that I need to take that box off a tree and put it on a steel post, then keep the post greased so his descendants can’t climb it. 

It is easy to shoot the occasional copperhead that ventures too close to my home here on this wilderness hilltop we call lightnin’ ridge. As I get older, instead of heading for the lake or river early in the morning, I make a cup of coffee and sit out on my screened porch; looking at the patch of grass and plant life we jokingly refer to as a “yard” or “lawn.”

It is a place for occasional wildflowers and mushrooms, rabbits, and all kinds of birds. Some snakes, like the hognose or garter snake or blue-racer, may cross it safely, as do terrapins or a variety of lizards.

The lizards occasionally fall prey to the yellow-billed cuckoos, which us Ozark country folks call “rain-crows.” Normally I would never shoot a bird in my backyard, but there is one I ought to pick off with my .22 rifle every time I see one… the brown-headed cowbird.

Yesterday, there they were, hopping around in my backyard, beneath the big oaks, a male and a female cowbird of the brown-headed variety. Only the male has the brown head. The female is gray. 

Though only the male is brown-headed, I think both of them are black-hearted, because they are like so many of us in the Ozarks — they are too lazy to work to provide for their offspring.

That does not include me. I worked hard to make a good life for my offspring without causing difficulty for my neighbors. When my daughters left the nest, they left a nest I had built myself.

This cannot be said of the brown-headed, black-hearted cowbird. They build no nest, they find one made by a cardinal or bluejay or mockingbird and kick those eggs out of the nest, laying their own in the nest where returning birds of some other species will hatch and raise their young for them.

You would think that any bird would be wise to this, but they aren’t, displaying the traits for which we refer to really dumb folks normally found in suburbs of big cities, as “bird-brains”!

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