The Cardinal’s Strange Offspring

Junior wants food!

Doting dad appears, offering what looks like a nice juicy berry. Junior checks it out, but refuses it.

Junior decides he’d rather splash around in his wading pool.

Still hungry, he calls out to dad.

Doting dad responds, still offering the nice, juicy berry…

…and gets splashed by Junior for all his devoted effort!

Junior is a young Brown-headed Cowbird. The female cowbird lays her eggs in the nests of other bird species, where they are hatched and cared for by the host parents at the expense of their own young.

Linking to Rural Thursday
and Camera Critters


33 Comments on “The Cardinal’s Strange Offspring”

  1. petra says:

    interesting. I didn’t know there are other birds like the cuckoo. lazy bums 🙂

  2. Tricia says:

    Kids! Isn’t that how it goes! LoL! =)

  3. mgatwood says:

    Lovely captures! Really like the bath.

  4. Anne Payne says:

    that is so cool! and the photos are great 🙂

  5. Buttons says:

    Awesome pics. B

  6. Oh this is fascinating! Great pics too.

  7. ladyfi says:

    Oh, poor cardinal! That last shot is spectacular – wonderful timing.

  8. Joanie says:

    OhMyGoodness! I love this pictoral story! My favorite is the look on doting dad’s face while he is getting splashed! What a nice adopted dad! Great photos… great story!

  9. Nancy says:

    I thought as much! Ungrateful child! 🙂

  10. TexWisGirl says:

    ha ha! 🙂

  11. Bobbie says:

    I have teen daughters. Boy can I relate to that cardinal today. 🙂 What a great link. Thanks for linking!


  12. Leovi says:

    A real time capture, wonderful. Beautiful photos.

  13. Céline & Philippe says:

    Thank you for your visit to “Les Fous du Cap”. We also love this series of photos.
    Céline & Philippe

  14. jbcuvelier says:

    That explains it! Thought maybe it was a female Cardinal chick. LOVE these photos Pat!

  15. Jim says:

    That explains it! (he said again as he changed his ‘link’)!

  16. geanina says:

    great series! greetings…:)

  17. Gail says:

    OMG, that’s hilarious! I’d heard that about the brown headed cowbird nesting in other birds’ nests. What little devils. And what a brat junior is being while the not-dad is trying to man-up (bird-up?) to feed his ungrateful tail. lol

  18. Great photos!

    Cardinals are good parents with strong instincts. I’ve seen several pictures of them feeding other animals, even fish.

  19. Liz says:

    WOW!! Very interesting. I didn’t know about the cowbird. That’s commitment on the Cardinal’s behalf!! The cowbird baby looks like quite a challenge.

    I guess some of us humans do that too though in many forms – fostering, step parenting, etc. In my case it was taking on 5 daughters (some adults, but most teenagers), whose mother deserted them, after raising my own 4 on my own (because their own father deserted us). It has been quite a challenge too so I feel some real empathy for the Cardinal in your images.

  20. Misty Dawn says:

    What an adorable and fun post!!! Love it!

  21. JM says:

    The bottom shot is the coolest!

  22. Oh no..I am always said to see happens here too…

  23. lisa says:

    I’ve heard of cowbirds before, but never knew this about their eggs.
    Really interesting, and such a wonderful series of photographs.
    Junior looks like he’s a handful!!!

  24. Gattina says:

    Wow, very beautiful pictures and so sharp !

  25. Jane says:

    Great captures!

  26. Fergiemoto says:

    Oh wow, how interesting about the cowbirds. The cardinals realize it’s not their own offspring?
    You have some of the best bird activity and best bird shots! I love this series and captions – it’s just ADORABLE!

  27. My husband had told me stories about cowbirds and their habits but, I had never seen it until your photos.

    I have enjoyed hopping around your site today. Your photos are wonderful and your stories both entertaining and educational.

  28. Eileen says:

    Great series, the cardinals are such wonderful parents. Even taking good care of their adopted babies.

  29. Love those shots where they are splashing water.

    Visiting a little late from Camera Critters, here’s my entry, hope you can still take a peek, your comment will be greatly appreciated.

  30. Lina Gustina says:

    Lovely bird shots!
    Thanks for dropping by 🙂

  31. Love your captures, they’re wonderful. I can’t stand cowbirds and shoo them from my feeder all the time … to no avail.

  32. So interesting! We have cowbirds here, but I’ve never seen their little ones being raised by another parent, as you showed us here.

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