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Cardinals feeding a different species?


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We attract many different types of birds to the feeders outside our kitchen window and can easily identify them, even if we have to resort to a field book.  But lately we have seen a pair of cardinals feeding a bird that in no way resembles an immature cardinal.  We have seen the adult female up on the feeder picking out food and feeding this other bird.  And when that bird flys down to the ground, the adult male feeds the food it picks off the ground to this other bird. 

This bird is as large as the adults but more plump or rounded shape.  It has no tuft on its head and is dark brownish gray.  What could it be?

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Brown-headed Cowbird are a parasitic species that lay eggs in other birds nest.  The young hatch and are larger and can dominate the smaller birds to get fed, or the adult Cowbirds can make sure the other eggs don't hatch.  The host species ends up raising the Cowbird as its own.  Eventhough they look nothing like the host species.  I've seen Yellow Warbler and Baltimore Orioles feeding them.  Exact opposite of the drab brown of the Cowbird.  

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Wow Chipper, that was a quick and informative response. I have now looked up the cowbird and read of it's antics and believe you have "hit the nail on the head" and I thank you.

(I love this forum. I've gotten quick and accurate responses to the 3 questions I have posted in the past year!)

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