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Molothrus ater

Common Name: Brown-headed Cowbird
Molothrus ater
Molothrus ater

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Icteridae
Genus: Molothrus
Species: Moothrus ater

Conservation Status

Identifying Features

Adults have a 9" long body with 13" wingspan. They have a short and thick beak.

Adult males have a glossy black body with brown head. Females are paler, with gray-brown bodies and lighter colored heads.

Habitat & Range

Brown-headed cowbirds year round range reaches along much of the north and south eastern United States, with their breeding range reaching into the southwestern United States up through to Canada.

Brownheaded cowbirds live in open forests.


Their calls consist of gurgles and whistles.

Life Cycle

Females will lay their eggs in the nest of other songbirds, leaving them for the other bird to feed and raise. They may lay up to 36 eggs in one season!

Featured image by James Dake.


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