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Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed Nuthatch
Brown Pelican

Previous bird

Brown Pelican

  • Pelecanus occidentalis
  • Waterbirds

About the Brown-headed Cowbird

Also known as: Common Cowbird, Cow Blackbird, Cow Bunting, Cow-pen Bird, Dwarf Cowbird, Eastern Cowbird, Nevada Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbirds are small dark birds, related to orioles, grackles and blackbirds. Males have iridescent black bodies with brown heads; females are much duller, with a brownish-grey overall plumage.

Brown-headed Cowbirds are brood parasites. They do not make their own nests; females lay eggs in the nests of other birds. Baby Brown-headed Cowbirds are raised by the host parents; more than 140 different species of birds have been seen raising baby Brown-headed Cowbirds.

Details & Stats

Hatched Added to Birdorable on: 14 July 2010
Scientific Name Molothrus ater
  • Passeriformes
  • Icteridae
  • Molothrus
  • M. ater
Birdorable Family Icterids
Conservation Status Least Concern
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Near Threatened (NT)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Critically Endangered (CR)
  • Extinct in the Wild (EW)
  • Extinct (EX)
Source: IUCN Red List
(as of 28 July 2017)
Units: Imperial Metric
7.5 inches
12 inches
1.5 ounces
Range North America Central America Caribbean United States (West) United States (East)

International Names

  • vlhovec hnědohlavý (Czech)
  • Brunhovedet Kostær (Danish)
  • Bruinkop-koevogel (Dutch)
  • lehmäturpiaali (Finnish)
  • Vacher à tête brune (French)
  • Braunkopf-Kuhstärling (German)
  • Molotro testabruna (Italian)
  • コウウチョウ (kouuchou) (Japanese)
  • Brunhodetrupial (Norwegian)
  • starzyk brunatnoglowy (Polish)
  • буроголовый коровий трупиал (Russian)
  • Vaquero de Cabeza Castaña (Spanish)
  • Brunhuvad kostare (Swedish)

Related articles

Bird Term: Brood Parasite

Bird Term: Brood Parasite

Brood parasites are birds that rely on other birds, often of a different species, to raise their young. Brood parasitism occurs in organisms other than birds, including fish and insects, but we'll ... more