Northern cardinal feeding another bird

envelope I have observed a male cardinal on our bird feeder, feeding a young bird that is not a cardinal. Similar size but not the correct coloring or shape of other young cardinals I have seen being fed by parents.  Any explanation or similar sightings? I wasn’t able to get a picture. Thanks.  Teresa

10 thoughts on “Northern cardinal feeding another bird”

  1. puffin Hi Teresa, Thanks for writing. And for your cool observation. Birds often feed babies that are not their own. The instinct to stuff food in an open mouth is so strong. One theory is that the danger of not feeding one of your own hungry chicks is greater than the risk of feeding someone else’s. At least most of the time. Sometimes, the results are really remarkable. There are any number of photos and videos of birds feeding goldfish and koi, including one at this page of a Northern cardinal feeding goldfish: http://lansingwbu.blogspot.com/2010/05/basic-instinct-cardinal-feeds-goldfish.html. And recently in the news is an amazing story of bald eagles feeding a hawk chick in British Columbia: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2017/06/29/these-bald-eagles-are-feeding-a-baby-hawk-because-parenthood-makes-you-crazy/?utm_term=.26c7f7c47e7b. Tom

  2. I am so happy I found this question answered! I have witnessed this all summer at my feeder. A male cardinal feeding baby sparrows at the feeder. And just yesterday the female cardinal was feeding her female baby too. So cool!

  3. We noticed the same thing near our birdfeeder – a cardinal feeding a sparrow. It was really amazing to see this! Had no idea bird would do this!

  4. at our bird feeder, I have seen the male cardinal feed a bird that is not it’s young, looked more like a sparrow

  5. Was it sort of gray, with streaking on the breast? If so, it might have been a cowbird chick. Tom

  6. My male cardinal was putting water from the bloodbath into
    What I think was a juvenile housing. Would they do that too ?

  7. Hi Karen, you will need to clarify this for me. I’m guessing bloodbath should be birdbath, but I don’t know what “juvenile housing” means. 🙂 Tom

  8. Sorry, birdbath. It did not look like a juvenile cardinal. Looked more like a juvenile house finch.
    Would the Male cardinal do that? Wish my camera had been in my hand. It was so sweet.

  9. OMGoodness! I was reviewing cam we have at one of our feeders and we have an adult male Cardinal feeding what I believe is a juvenile/recently fledged Cowbird. It was so cool to watch!!

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