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Bronzed cowbird

Bronzed cowbird
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Icteridae
Genus: Molothrus
M. aeneus
Binomial name
Molothrus aeneus
(Wagler, 1829)
Range of M. aeneus
  Breeding range
  Year round range

The bronzed cowbird (Molothrus aeneus), once known as the red-eyed cowbird, is a small icterid.

They breed from the U.S. states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana south through Central America to Panama. They tend to be found in farmland, brush, and feedlots. Outside the breeding season, they are found in very open habitats, and roost in thick woods. These birds forage in open areas, often near cattle in pastures. Their diet mostly consists of seeds and insects, along with snails during breeding season for a calcium source.[2] There are three subspecies:[3]

  • M. a. loyei Parkes & Blake, 1965 is found in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.
  • M. a. assimilis (Nelson, 1900) is found in southwestern Mexico.
  • M. a. aeneus (Wagler, 1829), the nominate subspecies, is found in South Texas and from eastern Mexico to central Panama

The bronze-brown cowbird, which is restricted to the Caribbean coast of Colombia, was formerly considered to be an isolated population of this species.[3]

The male bronzed cowbird is 20 cm (7.9 in) long and weighs 68 g (2.4 oz), with green-bronze, gloss-black plumage. His eyes are red in breeding season and brown otherwise. The female is 18.5 cm (7.3 in) long and weighs 56 g (2.0 oz). She is a dull black with a brown underbelly, and has brown eyes. Young birds have coloring similar to the females, with the exception of grey feather fringes.[4]

Like all cowbirds, this bird is an obligate brood parasite; it lays its eggs in the nests of other birds. The young cowbird is fed by the host parents at the expense of their own young. Hosts include Prevost's ground-sparrows and white-naped brush finches. They develop rapidly, leaving the nest after 10–12 days.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge - Texas


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2017). "Molothrus aeneus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2017: e.T22732035A119468342. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T22732035A119468342.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  2. ^ "Bronzed Cowbird". Guide to North American Birds. Audubon. 13 November 2014. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  3. ^ a b Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela (eds.). "Oropendolas, orioles, blackbirds". IOC World Bird List. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  4. ^ "Bronzed cowbird". All About Birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  • Stiles, G.; Skutch, A.F. (1989). A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica. Comstock. ISBN 0-8014-9600-4.

Further reading

  • Lowther, P.E. (1995). "Bronzed Cowbird (Molothrus aeneus)". In Poole, A.; Gill, F. (eds.). The Birds of North America. Philadelphia and Washington, DC: The Academy of Natural Sciences and The American Ornithologists' Union.

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Bronzed cowbird
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