Saturday, May 27, 2017

Coastal BC Birds: Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

A Brown-headed Catbird at the feeder.
On a sunny spring day we had a Brown-headed Cowbird visit our birdseed feeder at the cabin on Powell Lake. This is the second time I've seen one in the Powell River region. The first was on a quad ride to Fiddlehead Farm back in 2008.

Cowbirds are a highly mobile species. After following herds of animals on the prairies for eons, they've developed the practice of laying eggs in other birds' nests. Without the requirement to incubate eggs and nurture young, they can focus on foraging and aren't tied down to a specific location. Point taken. I haven't seen the Cowbird return.

Brown-headed Cowbirds are in the blackbird family. Mine was a lone male with a glossy black body and dark brown head. Females have a brownish body with lighter areas on the head and underside.

Females lay their eggs in a wide variety of other birds' nests. Some can detect the "parasitic" egg but others cannot. Because Cowbird eggs hatch quicker and produce larger chicks, they are more adept at surviving than the host bird's hatchlings.

Brown-headed Cowbirds are common throughout North America. They are annual residents along the west coast up to British Columbia and move in the summer to more northern breeding areas in the western US and across the southern Canadian provinces. -- Margy

Reference: All About Birds: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology (online).


  1. I saw 4 yesterday, 2M & 2F, all in a group, unfortunately not close enough for the camera. Nice catch at your feeder.

    1. I think I saw two females in the tall grass at the airport. - Margy

  2. Great info and post on the Brown-headed Cowbird. Nice captures! Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Monday, enjoy your day and new week ahead!

  3. Great post, as always :-)


We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy