The Cowbird-Starling Family

I’ve posted before about my little visiting Cowbird-Starling Family.  Here they are again.  There’s about 5 or so in the family, all cowbirds but one.  They are in the back yard nearly every day.  This photo isn’t very good because it’s through glass and far away.  So I labeled them.  🙂  They get along so well and the Starling seems to have no clue that he’s the family misfit.  😉

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a (poor) close up of the “baby” Starling:

I love this little bird family.  They make me smile.

🙂

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One of these things is not like the other…

(I apologize for the “haze” on some of the photos lately.  These were all taken from inside, through glass.  Pollen has been horrible this year and way too hard on my lungs for me to get out much recently.)

So I’ve got this little family of birds visiting regularly.  I see them pretty much every day.  Except there is an oddball in the family.    😉

This is a family of Brown-headed Cowbirds (molothrus ater).  Spot the oddball yet?

It’s the European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) on the upper left of the photo.

I know many people don’t like Starlings.  I suppose largely due to their rumored habit of tricking other birds into raising their young.  But …  I love Starlings.  I always have.   And I get a laugh nearly everyday from this “family” that is visiting us this spring.

Here’s a closer shot of momma Cowbird:

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And “baby” Starling:

I wrote this post, then decided to do more research into this process of having other birds raise their young at times.  And what I found was truly confusing.  According to the bird expert sources that I viewed online, the cowbird participates far more often in the process of having other birds raise their young than the Starling does.  Some “expert” sites said that the European Starling doesn’t do it at all.  (Yet I have always heard that they sometimes do this and the bird family I have been seeing everyday is clearly a Starling having been raised by within a family of cowbirds.)  I did find some sources that talk about Starlings “egg dumping”, while other expert sources say they do not.  I would love to take the time to dig into this more, but I am already far behind on posting the photos I have taken this spring, so I think I will move on for now.  But I might look into it more at a later date.

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