Brown-headed cowbird Facts

Brown-headed cowbird Facts
Brown-headed cowbird is a member of the blackbird family. It can be found in Canada, USA and Mexico. Brown-headed cowbird inhabits edges of the forest, grasslands, thickets, areas near the roads, farms and barns. It can be also seen in suburban areas where it occasionally visits gardens and feeds on the bird feeders. Number of brown-headed cowbirds increased in the last couple of decades as a result of accelerated deforestation (they prefer open spaces). Wild population of brown-headed cowbirds is large and stable.
Interesting Brown-headed cowbird Facts:
Brown-headed cowbird can reach 7.5 inches in length and 1.5 ounces of weight.
Males are black-colored with brown head. Females have grey body and pale-colored throat.
Brown-headed cowbird has short, stout bill, stocky body and medium-long tail that bird lifts during the feeding.
Brown-headed cowbird has wingspan of 14.2 inches. It moves the wings constantly and flies swiftly.
Diet of brown-headed cowbird is based on seed, grains, black cherries, blackberries, beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, spiders and snails.
Brown-headed cowbird is closely associated with cows. It collects insects that can be found near these large ruminants, hence the name - cowbird.
Song of brown-headed cowbird consists of gurgling sounds that frequently repeat.
Northern population of brown-headed cowbirds migrate to the south during the autumn. They travel back toward their breeding grounds in the spring. Brown-headed cowbirds form large roosting groups with several blackbird species. Created flocks can consist of 100.000 to 5 million birds.
Mating season of brown-headed cowbirds takes place from March to April.
Males gather in groups or sing alone to attract the females. Visual display (that accompanies the song) consists of lifted feathers on the backs and chest, spread tail feathers and lifted wings.
Brown-headed cowbirds are not monogamous birds. Both males and females mate with couple of different partners during the mating season.
Brown-headed cowbird is brood parasite. That means that female lays eggs inside the nests of 220 different species of birds instead of her own nest. Female produces 30 to 40 eggs during the nesting season and lays one egg per nest.
Most hosts are not able to recognize foreign egg and they incubate it together with their own eggs. Brown-headed cowbird hatches after 10 to 12 days (usually before other chicks) and grows fast. It often eliminates other (smaller and more fragile) chicks from the nest to ensure more food for itself. Young brown-headed cowbird leaves the nest after 8 to 13 days, when it becomes oversized for the nest.
Yellow warbler is able to recognize the false egg but it is too small to remove it from the nest. It builds another nest on top of the existing one and lays new set of eggs all over again.
Brown-headed cowbird can survive more than 16 years in the wild.

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