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.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Phoebe/finch combo raise a cowbird and eagles raise a hawk

How many birds does it take to raise a cowbird? A female Brown-headed Cowbird can have several mates but instead of nesting, will lay her eggs in the nests of other bird species which foster the babies. In most cases the cowbird hatches earlier then the host species, is fed plenty of flying bugs and other creepy crawlies and grows fast enough to leave the nest in a couple weeks.

But it is rare for a cowbird chick to survive in a finch household. Finches feed primarily plant material to nestlings by regurgitation; it is neither partially digested nor does it contain nutritive secretions from the adult. In one study 99 parasitized House Finch nests were observed. Not one cowbird chick survived past 14 days. Lack of cowbird survival appeared to be the result of an inappropriate diet.

So what does a hungry cowbird baby do? Apparently his begging calls were so desperate a nearby Phoebe stepped in to do supplemental feeding. She may have lost her nest or just heard the cries, but basic instinct called for her to feed the child. Watch the fascinating video: https://youtu.be/h3AvdLPxzfg
In Canada a Bald Eagle is also raising a mixed family. Bald Eagles residing in a fir tree have apparently adopted a baby red-tailed hawk instead of shredding it and feeding it to their eaglets. Red-tails and eagles are not usually on the best of terms and have even been known to fight to the death. But once your in mommy mode it's hard not to feed any mouth that is open.
In this video the red-tail babe is in front and the eaglet is behind:  https://youtu.be/pVTH0pWl_GI
Related Articles:
How young cowbirds know they're cowbirds http:/cowbirds-know-their-cowbirds.html
Eastern Phoebes nest under porch http://phoebes-nest.html
Are cowbirds a concern http://cowbirds-concern.html
Brown-headed Cowbirds scout for nests http://cowbirds-scout-for-nests.html
What birds do if their eggs are destroyed http://birds-do-if-their-eggs.html
What makes a cardinal feed goldfish? http://basic-instinct.html

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