Do you ever get the feeling that you are being followed? That there’s something out there watching your every move? Well, on the last Crater Lake seed collection trip, the team discovered that was exactly the case. As they harvested seed from marumleaf buckwheat (Eriogonum marifolium), they discovered they were being shadowed by a tiny hunter.
The stalker in this case was a juvenile brown headed cowbird (we think), who apparently mistook the team for a herd of cattle or elk. The bird would trail in the team’s footsteps, snatching up the grasshoppers and other insects they stirred up. As the day progressed, the bird got bolder. During lunch, he patrolled the group, picking ants off of the crew’s shoes and eventually using the crew and their gear as vantage points for hunting. By the end of lunch, the bird had been nicknamed "B".
B stuck with the crew all day, despite the smoke from nearby fires. When the crew moved to another area of the meadow, the bird would hitch a ride on a hat or backpack and continue his hunting at the new collection spot. Occasionally, he would drop into the crew's collection trays and pick out the bugs that had been collected with the seeds and was only slightly bothered be the collectors continuing to add seed while he was in there. It seemed to be a highly successful day of hunting for him, and the team was sad to part ways when they went back to the campground. However, he left the crew with some great pictures.