About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Black bird putting "something white" in my bath

My friend has spotted cowbirds flying to her bird bath and depositing poop there. We are both wondering why? I know they use other birds nests for the eggs and wondered if they are cleaning out that nest.

When a bird takes on water either by drinking or bathing, instinct tells them to get rid of any useless weight to be a more efficient flyer. Before take-off most birds leave behind some poo.

But I think you are talking about Fecal Sac (baby poo) disposal. Nestling birds produce a little round white package of poo, encased in a tough gelatinous membrane and blackbirds have a tendency to use water as their disposal area. Nestlings usually excrete one sac after each feeding, especially as they get older. The parent grasps it by the middle with their beak to dispose of away from the nest. Water removes any scent for a predator to follow back to the nest.

Several published studies on the subject have found adult cowbirds check in with young cowbirds while the youngsters are still living with other species. The adult cowbirds help teach fledglings cowbird-specific behaviors before they leave their foster homes. Cowbirds have also been observed ingesting or removing fecal sacs produced by host nestlings. Removal of the fecal sacs of the young is one way to keep out infestations of parasites (fly maggots, fleas, ticks, and mites) or pathogens (bacteria and fungi). So in keeping the nest healthy, cowbirds are ensuring the health of their young.

Related Articles:
- How Do Cowbirds Learn to Sing? http://goo.gl/Y9HNDM
- How young cowbirds know they're cowbirds http://goo.gl/Jgmavd
- More about Cowbirds http://goo.gl/b1PkOd
- Birds cleaning up after their babies http://birds-cleaning-up-after babies.html

- Brown-headed Cowbird's courtship display http:/brown-headed-cowbirds-courtship.html 
- Are cowbirds a concern http://are-cowbirds-concern.html

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