What’s Up With Cowbirds? April 19, 2022

Sometimes when I point out a Cowbird, someone remarks with distain “Oh. One of those!” They have a bad reputation.

Female Cowbirds lay their eggs in the nest of other bird species. The Cowbird  has been known to parasitize over 220 different species of North American birds.

There are many photos on-line:

Chickadee with Cowbird chick (photo: blogspot.com)
Chipping Sparrow with Cowbird chick (photo: flickr)

and videos:

Why do they do this? Here is information from the Cornell Lab. of Ornithology:

Historically Cowbirds followed herds of bison, eating insects kicked up by the animals’ hooves. It is unknown whether they developed their breeding strategy because they had to move frequently to keep up with the bison herds, or whether they were able to follow the herds because their breeding strategy gave them the freedom to do so.

Both morning and afternoon groups saw Cowbirds today at Beechwood / Don Valley.

Brown-headed Cowbirds (male)
Brown-headed Cowbirds (male)

Other birds:

American Robin
Downy Woodpecker (male)
Northern Cardinal (male)
American Robin with worm

Area scenes:

Some botany:

Honeysuckle (Lonicera)
Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)
Dame’s Rocket (Hesperis matronalis)
Siberian Elm (Ulmus pumila)
Trembling Aspen (Populus tremuloides)
Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana)
Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)

10 am group:

1 pm group:


Calm was the even, and clear was the sky,
And the new budding flowers did spring,
When all alone went Amyntas and I
To hear the sweet nightingale sing.        – John Dryden (1631–1700)

Miles Hearn

3 thoughts on “What’s Up With Cowbirds? April 19, 2022

  1. rosemarie fischer

    wow….so surprised to hear that brown-headed cowbirds are considered Brood Parasites…..only new about the cuckoos…….very interesting and informative post……thanks Miles

  2. rosemarie fischer

    did not know about the brown-headed cowbirds being brood parasites,know about the cuckoo…….
    very interesting……thanks Miles

  3. Sophie

    Interesting fact about the cowbird. Nice to learn something new.
    The one area scene where there is a path on each side looks like a heart in the centre around the trees.


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