Commentary – Similarities between Parasites, Birds and Humans

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by Ronnie Foster

Birds and humans are very similar.

A parasite can be scientifically defined as an organism that lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the host’s expense. A more human, but derogatory definition would be a person who receives support, advantage, or the like, from another person or group of people without giving any useful or proper return. This is a person who lives on the generosity of others; even if that generosity is not proffered freely.

In the avian realm, the brown-headed cowbird is North America’s most common “brood parasite.” In this country there are some humans that emulate the cowbird in many behaviors.

A female cowbird makes no nest of her own, but instead lays her eggs in the nests of other bird species. Those other birds then raise the young cowbirds. There are some humans whose nest (housing) is provided for them by other humans. The government provides the nest via Section 8 housing at the expense of non-parasitic taxpayers.

Male and female brown-headed cowbirds are not monogamous. Genetic analyses have shown that both males and females have several different mates within a single season. Similarly, there are some humans that are not monogamous. Some females cannot identify the father of their child.

Some small birds recognize cowbird eggs but are too weak to get the eggs out of their nests. Instead, they build a new nest over the top of the old one and hope cowbirds don’t come back. Some non-parasitic taxpayers cheat on their taxes so that they are not paying for the nest of the humans that emulate cowbirds.

Some larger bird species puncture or grab cowbird eggs and throw them out of the nest. Some non-parasitic taxpayers continually complain to authorities when they see abuses of the system such as a woman living with her child’s father and lying about it.

But the majority of other avian hosts don’t recognize cowbird eggs at all. Most non-parasitic taxpayers just go about their business of earning a living and never think about the amount of taxes they pay to parasites.

Cowbird eggs hatch faster than other species eggs, giving cowbird nestlings a head start in getting food from the parents. Some parasitic humans begin breeding before they are a teenager, and most before they would complete high school.

Young cowbirds also develop at a faster pace than their nest mates, and will sometimes toss out eggs and young nestlings or smother them in the bottom of the nest. Parasitic humans teach their young that they are “entitled” to “benefits” from the government.

Female cowbirds have a large calcium requirement from laying so many eggs. In order to satisfy it, they eat snail shells and sometimes even eggs they have taken from nests they’ve robbed. Parasitic human females obtain food stamps to provide for all of their nutrition requirements.

Of course parasitic humans have many other “benefits” they are “entitled” to including medical care, utilities, cell phones and educational grants. Some parasitic humans not only make a career of this procedure, but are the fourth generation to work the system in this manner.

You see, birds, and some humans are very much alike. Let me state that virtually all humans need a crutch at one time or another. Sometimes that crutch is physical, sometimes the crutch is emotional, and sometimes the crutch is economic. But a crutch should never be grafted into the body.

Foster is a Vietnam veteran, retired Fabsteel Inc. supervisor, and former landscape business owner. A resident of Marshall, Texas, Foster  is committed to caring for abandoned and injured animals. He works closely with animal shelters and in horse therapy with disabled children, and is knowledgeable with birds and wild animals of east Texas.


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