Tiny bird feeding great big bird at feeder

laurabs(7b)August 14, 2007

At my feeder today I noticed one of my tinniest of birds, possibly a male ruby-crowned kinglet, because he has a little reddish hat on, and this much larger, clumsy, vaguely sparrow-marked bird was coming after him on the triple-tube bird feeder. I thought he was trying to scare the little bird away, but no, he opened his mouth and the tiny bird proceeded to stuff bird seed in, as if he was the parent bird.

Is this a case where some bird has come along and pushed eggs out of a nest and put her own eggs in their place, so that this tiny bird has had to raise this monstrosity?

And what kind of birds do this? I can't remember.

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ksfarmer(z5/Ks NC Kansas)

Cowbirds do this.....

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 9:46PM
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laurabs(7b)

It did look like a cowbird if their babies have a light, stripy look!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 10:47PM
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laurabs(7b)

I googled it and there are reports of ruby and golden crowned kinglets seen feeding baby cowbirds at feeders. I'll have to monitor the nests next year. Some are low enough to peak in. I can't believe I might have a golden or ruby crowned kinglet nesting in my yard. Doesn't seem too common, but I would never have checked what he was if I hadn't seen him feeding that big, clumsy cowbird.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 11:09PM
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lisa11310(z5 MI)

Sad to say that the Kinglet babies most likley did not survive, although there is hope that one or two did. Did you see any "regular" sized babies? I feel bad for both the "host " birds and the baby Cowbirds. So many of the host "parents " can't really get the baby cowbird enough food. The Babies of the host Mom are usually either pushed out as eggs or they starve as nestlings. Kinda makes you wonder why God made em, but I am sure they have a purpose.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 12:00AM
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laurabs(7b)

I know, it's really sad. And in my search I saw that they have witnessed cowbirds policing nests to make sure their eggs aren't pushed out by the parent birds! If they are, the cow birds have been seen retaliating, poking holes in the native eggs. It's very bad behavior. But this baby cowbird was feeding himself at the feeder AND demanding more feeding from his adopted parent. I'd say he was big enough to feed himself if need be. I read it's not legal to remove cowbird eggs from a nest, but I'd be tempted to leave them where my rat snakes could find them without having to climb the trees.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 12:29AM
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lisa11310(z5 MI)

I changed my feed this year and did not offer any mixed seed at all. The Cowbird population was WAY down. They still came, but did not stay. The down side to this is that the Indigos did not visit the feeder either. They nested here and there were quite a few this year, but they went to the neighbors for the mixed seed with Millet. :( (probably where the Cowbirds went too).

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 10:43AM
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laurabs(7b)

You get indigo buntings? How neat. We don't get those, so when we use up the mixed seed I won't let DH get it again. I told DH we shouldn't get it, I just didn't know why!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 6:55PM
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dirtgirl(So. Illinois)

I almost posted an observation along these lines several weeks ago. In a one-week span I noticed three separate cowbird chicks all being attended to by blue-grey gnatcatchers. There was always a single cb chick to each set of birds, and never any sign of additional BGGC chicks vying for the food. In that same time span I also noticed a CBchick being fed by a pair of indigo buntings. It's not hard to find them as they are very raucous and conspicuous. I am curious how the numbers and densities of birds most typically affected by CB predations are doing here because we have hordes of cowbirds, yet I always hear/see vireos and thrushes and others that are prime targets for parasitism.
I check my nest boxes regularly and destroy any CB eggs
in the hopes that at least my small wooded acreage can better sustain songbirds in a time of decline, but we live in farmland with any remaining wooded areas being highly fragmented. Flocks of winter 'blackbirds' are usually groupings of redwings, starlings, grackles and cowbirds fattened up on a steady and readily available farmland diet. I only wonder what our songbird
demographics will do in the next few decades.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2007 at 5:17PM
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aleksandras(7 NC)

I made this pic few months ago - parent (chipping sparrow) and "baby" cowbird. We still have a lot of chipping sparrows, so this is not a problem around here.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 12:15PM
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