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Brown-headed Cowbird

From Opus

Photo by KC FogginMyrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA, March 2005
Photo by KC Foggin
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA, March 2005
Molothrus ater


[edit] Identification

Male: 7.5-8.7 in (19-22 cm); female: 6.3-7.9 in (16-20 cm)

  • Finch-like bill

Male – glossy black plumage (sometimes a blue-green sheen can be seen), rich brown head, dark eye
Female – brown plumage, paler on the head and underparts, dark bill and eye
Juvenile – similar in color to female, but with streaking on breast and paler bill

[edit] Distribution

Canada, USA and Mexico
Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Labrador, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec

Female OhioMooseCentral Ohio, May 2007
Central Ohio, May 2007

USA: New England, Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming
Mexico: Baja California, Tamaulipas, Oaxaca, Los Coronados Islands

[edit] Taxonomy

[edit] Subspecies[1]

This is a polytypic species which consists of four subspecies:

Juvenile (right) with foster parent (an Eastern Phoebe) nartrebBlue Hills Reservation, Massachusetts, USA, June 2018
Juvenile (right) with foster parent (an Eastern Phoebe)
Blue Hills Reservation, Massachusetts, USA, June 2018
  • M. a. artemisiae:
  • M. a. obscurus:
  • M. a. ater:
  • Central and east-central US; migrates to Gulf Coast, Florida and southern Mexico
  • M. a. californicus:

[edit] Habitat

Farmland, foreste edges, suburbs.

Photo by MarysanImperial County, California, November 2004
Photo by Marysan
Imperial County, California, November 2004

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Breeding

Cowbirds are brood parasites; the female removes one egg from the host nest and lays one of her own. Four to five white, brown speckled eggs are laid, one at a time.

[edit] Vocalisation

Song: A liquid, bubbly gurgle followed by an upslurred, high-pitched whistle (given during display).
Call: check or a rattle.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, JF. 2008. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2008. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019.
  2. Avibase
  3. eNature

[edit] External Links


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