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|Family||Starlings ~ Stære ~ Estorninos (Sturnidae)|
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
Stær ~ Estornino Pinto
|Locality||Kongelunden, Amager, Denmark|
|Sex, Age, Comment||
First saw it as just a nestling. Then came a nuthatch in, and I saw it as a nuthatch nestling. But then it looked abnormally big-mouthed, concluding that a cuckoo had been visiting. This was on 2021-05-28. Then I visited the spot again two days later, 2021-05-30, and to my big surprise a European Starling came in with food in the mouth and started to feed the bird in the nest.
I've never seen anything like it. Two different species feeding the same young. Why would that be?
From my first visit I still hadn't had time to confirm that the bird in the hole in fact was a cuckoo. But looking at the photos from this day two, I got at feeling that it was not a cuckoo after all. Too plain it looked, and rather starling-like structured. And finding starling nestlings on the line, there was not doubt: It was a young starling being fed both by its parents and an outsider nuthatch!
Still on the line, I then found a posting describing the exact same situation elsewhere in Denmark some years ago; and the explanation, reasonable I think, was that it was likely that the nuthatch had started breeding using that same hole, and then was probably forced out by the bigger starlings later on. Perhaps then forced to give up breeding, the nuthatch was still 'programed' to rear this years young from the chosen nest spot, and would therefore instinctly respond as a responsible parent and start feeding when begging sounds were heard.
It would indeed have been more unusual if the bird had been a cuckoo. Seeing the large head sticking out of the hole, my first thought actually was, that it would be risky business to have a cuckoo grow up inside a hole that was chosen for much smaller birds. The risk of being trapped and unable to get out when it was time was very real. And that is probably why the cuckoo only rarely choose tree-nesting species as hosts. Not stupid they are.
Picture 1-3 2021-05-28.
Picture 4-8 2021-05-30.