What Birds Lay their Eggs in Other Birds’ Nests

What birds lay their eggs in other birds' nests

There are many birds that take care of eggs other than hatching. During this time the female bird stay home for a few weeks and male bird goes out in search of food. There are also some birds that lay eggs in the nests of other birds and raise their young. This is called ‘brood parasites’. These birds that lay their eggs in other birds’ nests use a variety of sneaky techniques. Some birds will use deceitful tactics to trick other birds into caring for their offspring. In this article, we will discuss what birds lay their eggs in other birds nests. In the previous article, we discussed about why do birds steal other birds nest.

What birds lay their eggs in other birds’ nests?

1. The common cuckoo

The common cuckoo

A common cuckoo is one of the cuckoos, a group of birds belonging to the family Cuculidae, which include the roadrunners, the American anis, and the coucal. This species migrates from Africa to Europe and Asia during the summer months, and then returns to Africa for the winter. A brood parasite is an organism that lays its own egg inside another birds nest. Cuckoos are known as brood parasites because they lay their eggs in the nests of another species. 

In the breeding season, female cuckoo may lay eggs in the nests or on the ground near the nests of various types of birds. They usually choose the nests of small passerine birds such as warblers, sparrows, tits, wrens, etc. The cuckoo’s egg is larger than those laid by the host parents. It has a white spot at the large end. The host parent does not recognize the cuckoo’s egg and raises it as its own. The cuckoo chick hatches first and grows faster than the chicks of the host parents. After about three days, the cuckoo chick leaves the nest and joins the rest of the cuckoo flock. When the cuckoo chick reaches maturity, it departs for Africa where it spends the winter.

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2. Brown-headed cowbird

Brown-headed cowbird

The brown-headed cowbird is a member of the icterid family  native to temperate and subtropical north America. It is a permanent resident in the south part of the United States’ geographic region; northern migrants move to southern states and Mexico in the fall and return to their breeding grounds in the spring. Cowbirds have been observed laying their eggs in the nests or even on the ground near the nest of other birds. The cowbird’s egg is similar to that of the host bird. However, the cowbird’s egg is much smaller than the host bird’s egg. The cowbird chick hatches first and grow faster than the chicks of host parents. After about four days, the cowbird chick leaves the nest and join the rest of the cowbird flock. When the cowbird chick reach maturity, it departs to South America.

3. Black-headed duck

Black-headed duck

Black-headed ducks are members of the Anatidae family. They are found throughout North America. They migrate between Canada and the United States each year. The black-headed duck is a permanent resident in Canada and the United States. It breeds in marshes, lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, and swamps. It lays egg in other birds nest and raise their young.

Unlike some brood parasites which aggressively attack their hosts, the female of the species does not employ any aggressive behavior towards its host. They don’t actually hatch from the egg; instead, they just sit there until the time comes for them to be born. Furthermore, they do not destroy the host’s eggs or eat the host’s food. Instead, they simply wait for the host to leave her nest before she lays her own egg. Once the host mother leaves the nest, the black-headed duck will take over the nest and raise the baby ducklings.

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4. The common woodpecker

Common woodpeckers belong to the Piciformes order. They are medium sized birds with long tails. They can be found all over the world. In North America, they live in forests, fields, parks, and gardens. They feed mainly on insects and fruit. In breeding season, the female woodpecker found host nest to lays egg. They always select a safe host nest where their egg will be safe and predators can’t damage their eggs. They also choose a place where their offspring can get enough food. They do not attack the host bird but they make sure their offspring can survive. When the baby woodpecker raise up, they leave the host nest and fly away.

 5. Honeyguide

Honeyguides are birds belonging to the Indicatoridae family. They are native to Europe, Asia, and Africa. They are migratory birds that travel between summering areas in sub-Saharan Africa and wintering areas in western Eurasia. They are known as honey guides because they lead humans to bee hives. They find bees by following the scent of the honey. They then use their keen sense of smell to locate the hive. They follow the scent of the honey and guide people to the hive.

The female honeyguide lays a single egg in different nests. They spread out the risk of multiple host and predator attacks by choosing different nests. They also increase the chance of survival for the young. If the host parent dies during incubation, the female honeyguide will continue to care for the young. She will stay at the nest and guard the young until they fledge.

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What kinds of birds are brood parasites?

Brood parasites are birds who lay their eggs in another bird’s nest. This includes cuckoos, kiskadees, cowbirds, and more.

How do brood parasites differ from normal birds?

Normal birds build their nests themselves. They have feathers and claws to protect their eggs. Brood parasites lay their eggs in another birds nest. They do not build their own nests. They usually only have a small beak to peck holes into the host’s nest.

Do brood parasites harm their hosts?

No! The females of the species do not attack their hosts. They do not even try to steal the host’s food. They just sit in the nest and wait for the host to hatch her eggs. Once the chicks hatch, she leaves the nest and flies off.

Are there any benefits to being a brood parasite?

Yes! Brood parasites are able to raise their young without having to spend time building their own nest. They can also raise their young in a safer environment than if they were raising them in their own nest.

Final thought

There is no such thing as “normal” or “parasitic” birds. All birds are born parasitic. Some birds become better at it while others don’t. Parasitism is an important part of nature. It helps keep populations balanced. In this article, we discussed some examples of brood parasitism. We hope you learned something new about these fascinating creatures.

D. Silva
D. Silva

Hi there, I'm Erick, a bird enthusiast and the owner of this website. I'm passionate about all things avian, from identifying different species to observing their behavior and learning about their habitats. I hope my website can be a valuable resource for anyone who shares my love for these incredible creatures.

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