Cow Elk Being Groomed by Starlings; Point Reyes National Seashore

Photo of starlings grooming a cow elk.

Free Grooming

This cow is being cleaned of parasites by some starlings.  She’s also ear-tagged.  She has a yellow tag in her right ear that is numbered “85” and a silver tag in her left ear that is numbered “8527.”  I don’t know why the tags were put on her, but she may have been tagged when the Park Service was experimenting with birth control in the late 90s.  If so, she’s quite old.  All I do know for sure is that I see her a lot and she sees me a lot.  When I’m upwind of her that nose gets a real workout.

It’s hard to tell from this little jpeg, but it appears that the starling on the cow’s head is missing toes on its right foot.

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About Jim Coda

I am a nature photographer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I specialize in photos of birds, mammals, and landscapes.
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2 Responses to Cow Elk Being Groomed by Starlings; Point Reyes National Seashore

  1. Pat Ulrich says:

    This is such a cool behavioral image, Jim! I had no idea that birds did this around here. I’ve always wanted to photograph this behavior with oxpeckers in Africa if I ever get the chance to go, but now I’ll have to start keeping at eye out in Point Reyes!

    • Jim Coda says:

      Thanks Pat. I’ve seen starlings on bison at Yellowstone also. In fact, one of my first posts on this blog was a photo of two starlings on a female bison.

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