Brown-headed Cowbird

At first I thought this was a common grackle which I’ve seen in the yard pretty often, but then I notice the head an neck was brown and not greenish-bluish-purple.  I did some research and found out this is a brown-headed cow bird, not the kind of bird I want in my neighborhood.

Why wouldn’t I want it?  Because I like cardinals, house finches, goldfinches, and similar birds.  Turns out the cowbird can be very detrimental to other birds.  The female does not make a nest.  Instead she lays her eggs in the nest of other birds which gives her the strength and time to lay three dozen or more eggs a season – in someone else’s nest.

The two paragraphs below from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology explain how this act of parasitic nesting can be harmful to the other birds.

“Cowbird eggs hatch faster than other species eggs, giving cowbird nestlings a head start in getting food from the parents. Young cowbirds also develop at a faster pace than their nest mates, and they sometimes toss out eggs of young nestlings or smother them in the bottom of the nest.”

Some birds, such as the Yellow Warbler, can recognize cowbird eggs but are too small to get the eggs out of their nests. Instead, they build a new nest over the top of the old one and hope cowbirds don’t come back. Some larger species puncture or grab cowbird eggs and throw them out of the nest. But the majority of hosts don’t recognize cowbird eggs at all.”

We can learn a lot form nature and I believe the lesson to be learned here can be best expressed with words from Willie Nelson when he sang “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowbirds”.


Another boring Tuesday, what to do, what to do, what to do?


Hey!  Is that a birdbath?


Ah, so refreshing.  No more boring Tuesday.


“Bend over, let me see you shake your tail feather …


… Come on, let me see you shake your tail feather …”


Hope I can still fly out of here after all that shakin’.


“… Bend over, let me see you shake your tail feather. Come on, let me see you shake your tail feather …”

The above lyrics are from an early 1960s song titled Shake Your Tail Feather.  It was originally recorded by The Five Du-Tones, was on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for twelve weeks, and peaked at #51.  It’s been frequently covered by groups such as The Kingsmen, The Monkees, Tommy James and the Shondells, Ike and Tina Turner, and many other well know artists.  It’s a great party song and as such is found on many party song compilation albums/CDs.

Thanks for stopping by and in the words of Wayne and Garth – “Party on!”


All photos taken with a Nikon D7100 and Nikkor 80 – 400mm telephoto zoom lens.

13 thoughts on “Brown-headed Cowbird

  1. When I had a Stick and Brick(House) and had all my feeders set up, I more than once seen a Cardinal come to the feeders with a Cowbird chick in tow. In the case of the smaller birds you just know that the Cowbird chick rooting out the other chick for food and nesting room.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very interesting the cardinal/cowbird thing. I can’t have a feeder because of squirrels so I don’t get to see behavior like that. I have to settle for what comes and happens at the bath.


  2. Thank you. I apologize for the delay in approving your comment. Yesterday we had a big Indepence Day party at our house and we spent most of the day before getting ready. Now that your first comment has been approved any future ones will show up immediately.

    I agree, watching birds in the bird bath, or any water, is fun. They seem to get so much enjoyment from it.


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