Saturday, May 29, 2010

Coastal BC Birds: Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

It's been two years since I've seen a Brown-headed Cowbird. We were on a quad ride to Fiddlehead Farm and one was foraging in the grassy meadow while we had our lunch. This week one came to visit for the first time at our cabin. It bounced around on the rocky cliff and then stopped by my garden float for a brief rest.

The Brown-headed Cowbird are termed brood parasitic. They lay their eggs in another bird's nest and then abandon them for the host bird to raise as their own. Because they are a larger bird, this can be disastrous for the owner's chicks.

Cowbirds are a member of the blackbird family. They originally followed bison across the praries, but now have spread across North America. Their diet consists of seeds and small insects. Hopefully this one was keeping an eye on slugs and other pests, not the new seeds in my spring garden. -- Margy


  1. I love their song. And because they have no fear of the huge cattle they live with, I find them inspirational as well. When I lived on the Island, it was unusual to see a Cowbird. It seems they've moved towards the ocean now, Margie!

  2. A neat bird with a fascinating life history, but I'm happier not to see them, which unfortunately, I do all too often.
    They were unknown in BC until about the 1940's. They have spread over virtually the entire province, and are causing serious declines in some species. Cassin's Vireo, Yellow Warbler, and Chipping Sparrow are all declining because of brood parasitism from Brown-headed Cowbirds.

  3. Very interesting, I've not seen this type of bird before. And I love the SWF photo with the lake and the mist!

  4. I listened to it online Marion, and it is pretty. Kind of blackbirdish.

    Yes Guy, I read about how they lay their eggs in other birds nests. Being a large bird I can see how they could kill all the other hatchlings. It's kind of like Scotch Broom taking up all the environment from native plants.


  5. We have lots of cowbirds around.
    Regarding the use of Rosehips you can read it here:

    Try them right off the shrub. MB

  6. I just started taking photographs of birds, and I am learning one bird at a time.

    Thanks for this information.


We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy