The Brown-headed Cowbird is North America’s most common “brood parasite.” A female cowbird makes no nest of her own, but instead lays her eggs in the nests of other bird species, who then raise the young cowbirds.
The cowbird will wait for a resident bird to leave her nest and then will usually damage or remove one or more eggs and replace that one or more eggs with her own. The foster parents unknowingly raise the young cowbirds. Do cowbird nestlings harm the other nestlings? Cowbird parasitism can harm the host nest.
Cowbirds are birds belonging to the genus Molothrus in the family Icteridae. They are of New World origin, and are obligate brood parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of other species.
Despite their harmless appearance though, they are a friend to no one. Cowbirds are selfish and greedy and they pave a path of destruction everywhere they go. Unfortunately, I’ve met some people who have similar habits. Cowbirds act the way they do thanks to thousands of years of survival of the fittest.
To deter Brown-headed Cowbirds:
Avoid platform trays, and do not spread food on the ground. Cowbirds prefer sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and millet; offer nyjer seeds, suet, nectar, whole peanuts, or safflower seeds instead. Clean up seed spills on the ground below feeders.
Male House Sparrows are brightly colored birds with gray heads, white cheeks, a black bib, and rufous neck – although in cities you may see some that are dull and grubby.
Cowbirds earned their common name from the habit of following herds of buffalo (and cattle) in search of the insect prey that were flushed up by the large grazing mammals. Plumage of the male brown-headed cowbird is mostly glossy black with a contrasting dark brown head, females are dull grayish brown.
Cowbirds are brood parasites, meaning that rather than raise their young themselves, they ditch their eggs in other species’ nests and allow these forced foster parents to do the tough work of chick-rearing.
Bronzed Cowbirds, especially, rode the backs of these animals picking through their fur for ticks and other insects to eat.
Differences. When it comes to differences, brown-headed cowbirds are smaller than American crows. The most noticeable difference is these birds have brown heads. They also have finch-like, small heads and smaller bills than those of American crows.
Cowbirds are generally most common in open habitats and forest edges, and less common in the interior of forests. Before European colonization of North America, breeding cowbirds were largely limited to the prairies of the Midwest, where they were often associated with American bison herds.
While the brown-headed cowbird is native to North America, it is a much worse villain than the European starling — an invasive species that has expanded like wildfire in the U.S. since it was introduced in the late 1800s — ever thought about being.
Cowbirds are often symbolic of parasitism and negativity. Their bizarre nesting strategy poses a serious danger to large populations of songbirds. Cowbirds are considered by many to be villainous. Additionally, the cowbird can be seen as symbolic of vicious sibling rivalry.
Brown-headed Cowbirds are smallish blackbirds, with a shorter tail and thicker head than most other blackbirds. The bill has a distinctive shape: it’s much shorter and thicker-based than other blackbirds’, almost finch-like at first glance. In flight, look for the shorter tail.
Brown-headed cowbirds are considered bullies for a different reason than most birds. These birds are brood parasites, meaning they don’t make their own nests.
Cowbirds lay eggs in a great variety of nests, including Red-winged Blackbird nests in marshes, dome-shaped Ovenbird nests on the forest floor, cup nests in shrubs and treetops, and even occasionally in nests in tree cavities.
Feed the birds thistle/nyger, safflower seed, whole peanuts, or suet. Cowbirds will not eat this. Eliminate cracked corn, sunflower seeds, and millet from your feeders unless you have a smaller feeder that the Cowbirds are unable use.
The adult cowbird may actually eat an egg or two of the host bird. Babies of the European cuckoo, also a notorious brood parasite, go a step further and kill the other babies when they hatch. But baby cowbirds usually do not kill their nest mates.
There are so many colors in a cedar waxwing! They have a head crest and a black mask, so when viewed from a distance, these birds look like cardinals. Look for colorful feathers on their wing tips and tail.
The blackcap is a grey warbler, easily identified by its distinctive cap. Males have black caps (as the name suggests), while the female’s cap is chestnut brown. Juvenile males also have a brown cap. They have thin, dark-coloured beaks and brownish-grey wings.
Cedar Waxwings are pale brown on the head and chest fading to soft gray on the wings. The belly is pale yellow, and the tail is gray with a bright yellow tip. The face has a narrow black mask neatly outlined in white. The red waxy tips to the wing feathers are not always easy to see.