[Tweeters] Starling feeding cowbird fledgling

B Boekelheide bboek at olympus.net
Sat Jul 2 15:30:13 PDT 2016

Hello, Tweeters,

This morning at Carrie Blake Park in Sequim, I was surprised to see an adult European Starling feeding a Brown-headed Cowbird fledgling. They landed on the grass, the starling dug into the sod and came up with a food item, passed it into the mouth of the waiting cowbird, and they quickly took off together. The cowbird didn’t really beg; it just sat there and got fed. The cowbird was totally feathered, but it had a hint of down still showing on its head. I don’t recall ever hearing about or seeing starlings with cowbird chicks.

Checking Birds of North America, it says that starlings are rarely parasitized by cowbirds, but they are frequently parasitized by other starlings. Curiously, as many as a third of early starling clutches may contain starling eggs that were not laid by the resident female starling in the nest. But cowbird nest parasitism of starlings is apparently very rare, possibly because starlings so vigorously defend their nest cavities against other species.

Is this what life has come to in Sequim… starlings feeding cowbirds?

Bob Boekelheide

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