Brown-headed Cowbird

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.

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Details & Statistics

Added to Birdorable
Hatched on 14 July 2010
Scientific Name
Molothrus ater
  • Passeriformes
  • Icteridae
  • Molothrus
  • M. ater
Birdorable Family
Conservation Status
Least Concern (as of 6 April 2020)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Near Threatened (NT)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Critically Endangered (CR)
  • Extinct in the Wild (EW)
  • Extinct (EX)
Source: IUCN Red List
Units: Imperial / Metric
7.5 inches
12 inches
1.5 ounces


International Names

Czech (Cesky) vlhovec hnědohlavý
Danish (Dansk) Brunhovedet Kostær
Dutch (Nederlands) Bruinkop-koevogel
Finnish (Suomi) lehmäturpiaali
French (Français) Vacher à tête brune
German (Deutsch) Braunkopf-Kuhstärling
Italian (Italiano) Molotro testabruna
Japanese (日本語) コウウチョウ (kouuchou)
Norwegian (Norsk) Brunhodetrupial
Polish (Polski) starzyk brunatnoglowy
Russian (русский язык) буроголовый коровий трупиал
Spanish (Español) Vaquero de Cabeza Castaña
Swedish (Svenska) Brunhuvad kostare
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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