do blackbirds steal other birds eggs

While most birds in your yard probably consume insects and/or seeds, some backyard birds do eat other birds. Some target adult birds. Some eat other birds’ nestlings. And some eat the eggs of other birds. Do you know which ones? You might be surprised!

Recently I was replying to a comment on my post about “Feeding Peanuts to Backyard Birds” and I realized that I really wasn’t sure whether or not Red-Bellied Woodpeckers cached peanuts. In reading about Red-Bellied Woodpeckers’ diet and food storage habits on Cornell’s Birds of the World website, I was surprised to read that this particular woodpecker is known to eat the eggs of other birds.

This discovery lead me to wonder if there are other birds in my backyard that might eat eggs, nestlings or even adult birds that I was not aware of. So I looked up each bird on my “Maryland Backyard Birds” post on Birds of the World. Because I focused on birds found in my own yard, I don’t claim that the list I came up with is complete. But I did find it quite interesting.

Most of the species on the list known to eat adult birds probably won’t surprise you, with one possible exception. The list of birds known to consume other birds’ nestlings is similar plus two, while the list of egg eaters is a fairly eclectic group of birds.

I’ve included family and genus for each bird, but in many cases, I found that while a particular bird in a family or a genus might eat other birds or nestlings or eggs, it doesn’t mean that others in the group include such things in their diet. I also found it interesting that the hawks on the list consume adult birds and nestlings but apparently not eggs.

How to tell is an egg hatched naturally or was predated

  • The majority of eggshells you come across are either the remnants of eggs laid by ground-nesting birds that normally hatch, or they were thrown from nests after the chicks hatched.
  • Upon hatching, chicks make a circular cut across the blunt end of the egg with their egg-tooth, a horny spike on the upper mandible; the edge becomes jagged where the chick has chipped its way out.
  • The inner membrane contracts and “rolls” the chipped edge inward as the empty shell dries out.
  • Hatched eggs never retain the yolk or egg white inside the shell, in contrast to predated eggs.
  • It is common to find the two halves of the shell near one another. The parent may carry one half of the egg inside the other to remove them from the nest.

do blackbirds steal other birds eggs

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Birds: Backyard Birds Known To Eat Adult Birds

Red-Shouldered Hawk (Family: Accipitridae. Genus: Buteo)

Cooper’s Hawk (Family: Accipitridae. Genus: Accipiter)

Sharp-Shinned Hawk (Family: Accipitridae. Genus: Accipiter)

Common Grackle (rarely) (Family: Icteridae. Genus: Quiscalus)

do blackbirds steal other birds eggs

Eggs: Backyard Birds Known To Eat Other Bird’s Eggs

Fish Crow (Family: Corvidae. Genus: Corvus)

American Crow (Family: Corvidae. Genus: Corvus)

Blue Jay (Family: Corvidae. Genus: Cyanocitta)

Common Grackle (Family: Icetridae. Genus: Quiscalus)

Brown-Headed Cowbird (Family: Icetridae. Genus: Molothrus)

Red-Bellied Woodpecker (Family: Picidea. Genus: Melanerpes)

Black-Capped Chickadees (reported in three studies) (Family: Paridae. Genus: Poecile)

do blackbirds steal other birds eggs

The Black-Capped Chickadees were the bird that most surprised me. I’m not sure how common this is because I couldn’t find any other references to eating bird eggs in other sources. Although I have seen reports of them taking eggs out of bluebird nests, it seemed like they were doing it to compete for nesting spots. (Note: We see Carolina Chickadees in my yard instead of Black-Capped Chickadees.) There don’t appear to be similar reports for them. ).

All About Birds’ Brown-Headed Cowbird page suggests that the reason that female Brown-Headed Cowbirds will eat shells and eggs is a need for calcium. Their parasitic approach to laying many eggs in the nests of other birds makes calcium a priority apparently.

do blackbirds steal other birds eggs

FAQ

What are the black birds that steal eggs?

Although it’s only natural, grackles are often scorned because they’re known to raid other birds nests, stealing eggs or young.

What bird removes other birds eggs?

The common cuckoo is an obligate brood parasite; it lays its eggs in the nests of other birds. Hatched cuckoo chicks may push out host eggs out of the nest or be raised alongside the host’s chicks. A female may visit up to 50 nests during a breeding season. Common cuckoos first breed at the age of two years.

Why do birds destroy other birds eggs?

The behavior may (1) provide nutrients (consumption hypothesis), (2) reduce competition for limited resources (competition hypothesis), (3) reduce the chances of predation on catbird nests (predator-avoidance hypothesis), (4) prevent brood parasitism by the Brown-headed Cowbird, Molothrus ater (antiparasitism …

Which bird steals the nest of other birds?

Cuckoo birds aren’t just the inspiration for intricate clocks. They’re also shameless parasites. Brood parasites, that is. Many species of cuckoos have been known to leave their eggs in other birds’ nests, letting their young be raised by entirely different species.