A black cardinal?

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

I noticed something really strange yesterday when I was sitting on my patio. I saw a beat-up looking male cardinal being "harassed" by a black bird. When I say harassed, I mean that the black bird was fluttering its wings and cheeping at the male - just like juvenile birds do to their parents when they want food. So I watched for a while and saw the cardinal go to my feeder, get food, and then take it to this black bird.

Now... I've seen lots of different birds in my yard, including grackles and starlings. I've also seen (on occasion) red-wing blackbirds. But I've never seen a male cardinal feeding a black-colored bird.

Has anyone ever heard of this? Has anyone ever seen a black juvie cardinal? They're usually a light tan color. Or is it possible that the male cardinal "adopted" this bird?

Hopefully I'll be able to get some pics of them later today. (They came back later in the afternoon, so I'm hoping they'll be back again today, now that they know there's food available.)

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Brown-headed Cowbirds exhibit this type of behavior, but the juvies are light brown. The females remove the eggs from the nest of other birds and deposit their own eggs so they are raised by a "host" bird. Sometimes the host parent is a little bird like a Sparrow and the larger baby cowbird runs it so ragged that its own babies die.

Anyways, the pictures will help if you get a chance to post them.

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Ah... I'd forgotten about the cowbirds. But I haven't seen any of them this year.

The two birds were here again this morning, but by the time I got into the house, located the camera, changed lenses, dropped in a card, and got back outside, of course, they were gone. :/

I wouldn't have been able to shoot a picture right away anyway, since the temp difference between inside and outside was enough to make the lens fog up. I've left the camera outside now and will go back out and watch for them a little later today - after I take a nap (I've been awake since about 3:30 a.m. - not by choice).

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Finally! Not a very good shot, since it's rather out of focus, but I was finally able to get a relatively decent shot of the two birds together. They didn't stay on the branch very long - hence the bad quality of the pic. They flew off together about 2 seconds after I shot the pic.

Wish I could have gotten a pic from last week (or earlier), when I saw the male feeding the juvie. :/

Will keep trying to get a better pic. But, of course, as the days go by, the juvie will be less and less dependent upon the male for food.

This message was edited Aug 17, 2012 9:36 AM

Thumbnail by cr0ak
Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Hard to say. It looks all black and juvie Cowbirds are usually light-colored, unless it's already turning dark.

You might try posting a quick explanation and a link to this thread in the Bird ID forum...that way you don't have to re-explain everything. There are some very knowledgable birders that search that forum on a regular basis. One of them is Resin. He might be able to give you a more definitive answer.

edited to say: I might have found an answer for you!
While looking through one of my bird books, I just discovered something interesting. You might have one or two other Cowbirds in your area. The Bronzed Cowbird is one of them and is very common, possibly living year 'round in southern Texas. The adult looks all black from a distance. There are two different races of Bronzed CB. In the eastern race, the juvies are blackish brown (so they could look black from a distance). The western race juvie is lighter. I don't know if you have both races, but it sounds like they may overlap areas.

This message was edited Aug 17, 2012 6:04 PM

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks, nutsaboutnature.. I'll try that! :)

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

cr0ak - Our threads may have just overlapped as I edited mine to add what may be an identification. Please read the edited portion of my last post!

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

nutsaboutnature - please see the other thread. LOL I finally got some relatively decent pics!


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