Brown-Headed Cowbird

Scientific Name: Molothrus ater

Habitat: Brown-Headed Cowbirds can be found in grasslands, prairies,pastures, fields, forest edges, orchards, thickets, and suburban areas.

Nesting: Brown-Headed Cowbirds are nest parasites. They lay their eggs in other species of birds nests. Brown-Headed Cowbirds commonly nest in Red-Winged Blackbird, Yellow Warbler, Red-Eyed Vireo, Chipping and Song Sparrow, Eastern Towhees, and Spotted Towhees nests, but over 140 different species have been recorded with Brown-Headed Cowbirds in their nests. The incubation time is 10 to 12 days. The females take one egg out of the nest she has chosen to lay her egg in, and lays one egg. She does this for about a month, and can lay up to 40 eggs in one breeding season.

Sound: The Brown-Headed Cowbird’s flight call is 2 to 5 clearly whistled notes, and the song is a high pitched squeaky gurgling.

Behavior: Brown-Headed Cowbirds are ground foragers, and they often travel in flocks of other blackbirds and starlings. Brown-Headed Cowbirds often follow cows and horses to get the food they have stirred up.

Diet: Brown-Headed Cowbirds eat mostly seeds in the winter, and about half seeds and half insects in the summer. They also eat egg shells from the nests that they have robbed and snail shells to give them the extra calcium they need for the number of eggs they lay.

How to attract: To attract Brown-Headed Cowbirds scatter grain and other seed on the ground, because they are ground foragers. They also will also come to a suet feeder.

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