About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cowbirds

Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater

Order: PASSERIFORMES Family: Blackbirds and Orioles (Icteridae)

Description: Small blackbird with glossy brown head, heavy bill, and dark eyes. Female is dark gray with darker streaks and paler throat. Juvenile is white-throated with white scaling on upperparts and white streaks on underparts.

General: Historically, cowbirds followed herds of migrating bison to take advantage of the food they kicked up in their wake. They are still associated to an extent with large mammals such as cows. A group of cowbirds are collectively known as a "corral" and a "herd" of cowbirds.

Behavior: The birds nomadic lifestyle made it impossible for them to manage a nest. Instead the cowbirds deposit their eggs in nests of other birds species to foster. The cowbird eggs typically hatch earlier than their host’s eggs which gives them a competitive advantage over the other hatchlings.

1 comment:

Tina Coruth said...

Nice shot! I suspect the cowbirds in my yard have followed the phoebes that nest around the yard. I often wonder if the phoebes are raising cowbird offspring!