Brown-headed Cowbird

Molothrus ater

Order

PASSERIFORMES

Family

Blackbirds (Icteridae)

Code 4

BHCO

Code 6

MOLATE

ITIS

  • wgba_banner
  • ibird_banner
  • journal_banner
1 2 3

ILLUSTRATION

ask community
Copyright © 2004 - 2014 Mitch Waite Group

PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Brown-headed Cowbird is native to North America and the Caribbean. It can be found in the United Kingdom and Belize as well. This bird has a range reaching up to 11 million square kilometers. The estimated population of this bird is extensive, believed to be around 56 million individual birds. In 2000, the evaluation of this bird was changed from Lower Risk to Least Concern as a result of his extensive population and range. There is currently no concern for possible population decimation.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Brown-headed Cowbird: Small blackbird with glossy brown head, heavy bill, and dark eyes. The black body has a faint green sheen. Walks on ground to forage and holds tail cocked over back. Feeds on caterpillars, insects, spiders, fruits, grains and seeds. Swift direct flight with rapid wing beats.


Range and Habitat

Brown-headed Cowbird: Breeds throughout much of Canada from southern portions of Yukon and the Northwest Territories south throughout the U.S. Spends winters in central and southern parts of breeding range from the Pacific Coast, the southwest, the Ohio River Valley, and southern New England south into Mexico. Habitat consists of agricultural lands, fields, woodland edges, and suburban areas.

whatbird search for your browser

SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"glug-glug-glee"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • Brown-headed cowbirds are brood parasites. They deposit their eggs in nests belonging to birds of other species. Some of the birds they parasitize remove the eggs from their nests or cover them with new nest material so that they are not incubated.
  • Historically, cowbirds followed herds of migrating bison to take advantage of the food they kicked up in their wake. They are still associated to an extent with large mammals such as cows.
  • The cowbird eggs typically hatch earlier than their host’s eggs which gives them a competitive advantage over the other hatchlings.
  • A group of cowbirds are collectively known as a "corral" and a "herd" of cowbirds.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP

CERange Map for Brown-headed Cowbird

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Yury Lisyak

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X