A black juvie cardinal?

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Please see this thread for explanation:


But here's a pic.

I apologize for the poor quality of the photo. It was difficult to get a shot of these two together. The first time I saw them the juvie was harassing the male in my nectarine tree. Then they went onto the ground, but I didn't have my camera outside. Since then, I've seen them almost on a daily basis (and I've been keeping my camera outside where I normally sit), but the juvie has been staying either in my vitex shrub (near the feeder) or up in our oak tree. Arrgh!

It's also hard to tell when they're around because I have numerous cardinals coming to my feeder. At least four males (who chase other males and females away). Of course, the "chipping" sound that they make are a clue that there are cardinals around, but I'd have to sit outside all day long just to attempt to get photos of these two.

So... has anyone ever heard of a black (or *very* dark brown) juvenile cardinal?

This message was edited Aug 17, 2012 5:23 PM

Thumbnail by cr0ak
Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Is there any chance the Cardinals raised something else by mistake? I can't tell from the photo if the size and shape are correct, or if it has a crest on its head.

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

cr0ak, Please check my edited post in your original thread. I must have been in the process of editing it when you responded. I may have found an answer for you!

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks, nutsaboutnature. I just read it. It really makes much more sense that it's some kind of cowbird.

Here are some more pics that I was able to get this morning (I pruned the vitex so there would be fewer leaves in the way. LOL)

"Dad" looks pretty harried! I've never seen the juvie with a female. I wonder what's happened to her. If it IS a cowbird and (as you mentioned in one of your posts on the other thread) the cowbird babies have run the "adoptive parent" ragged, I wonder if the female cardinal wasn't able to keep up with this one's demands. I can just imagine her saying (in bird-talk), "He's YOUR son - YOU feed him!" LOL

Again, I apologize for the fuzziness of the pics. I'm more used to shooting wildlife that doesn't move as fast - or pics of flora! (Not to mention that I have major nerve damage in my hands which also affects the muscles in my arms and they tend to twitch. Ain't old age great? HA!)

Edited to add:
I just thought of something. The parent(s) show(s) the babies where to find food. That means I'm eventually gonna have an adult cowbird hanging around my feeder now. :/ Maybe it'll find a mate several miles away and won't return. I can only hope!

This message was edited Aug 18, 2012 10:27 AM

Thumbnail by cr0ak Thumbnail by cr0ak Thumbnail by cr0ak
Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

cr0ak, thanks for posting more pics. Even though it looks jet black from a distance...right now, the Bronzed Cowbird is the only bird I can think of.

Do you have any binoculars? If so, try to get a better look without worrying about taking photos. If you can get a closer, clearer view, you might see a bronze or brownish tinge. Another very distinct feature that won't show up from far away, is it's Red Eyes. They'll look red with black in the center. In fact, at one time they called this bird a Red-eyed Cowbird.

Oh, and as far as Mrs. Cardinal...she may be back on the nest...leaving the feeding chores to Dad. Sadly, if that's the only bird you've seen him feeding, any others may have perished. Hopefully that's not the case.

I hope this helps. It's still possible someone else might be able to give you a more definitive I.D.

Northumberland, United Kingdom(Zone 9a)

Ditto to Bronzed Cowbird. It'll only get the red eyes when it is adult, juveniles have dark brown / black eyes.


Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Thanks, Resin...for both the I.D. and the fascinating bit of info about their eye color!!

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