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Any of various blackbirds of the genus Molothrus, especially the common North American species M. ater, that lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and are often seen accompanying herds of grazing cattle.

[From their habit of staying with cattle.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(Animals) any of various American orioles of the genera Molothrus, Tangavius, etc, esp M. ater (common or brown-headed cowbird). They have a dark plumage and short bill
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014



any blackbird of the genera Molothrus and Schapidura, noted for their brood parasitism, esp. the common North American species M. ater.
[1795–1805, Amer.]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.cowbird - North American blackbird that follows cattle and lays eggs in other birds' nestscowbird - North American blackbird that follows cattle and lays eggs in other birds' nests
blackbird, New World blackbird - any bird of the family Icteridae whose male is black or predominantly black
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in classic literature ?
we do like cowbirds and cuckoos, which lay their eggs in nests which other birds have built, and cheer no traveller with their chattering and unmusical notes.
We recorded nest contents (number of host eggs and presence and number of parasitic Brown-headed Cowbird [Molothrus ater] eggs or chicks) and candled eggs to estimate days since incubation started.
The cowbird thing happened later in life, at Western Illinois University.
The big upside is that the timber sale provides the state with enough profit to cover the replanting and some of the cowbird control mechanisms.
It appears the nest may have been parasitized by a cowbird, as one egg is larger and differently colored.
Additionally, expansion of agriculture and logging into Michigan brought with it brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater), "nest parasites" that lay eggs in the nests of unsuspecting host birds who then go on to raise the cowbird chicks as their own.
Six nests were parasitized with a single brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) egg, and all parasitized nests occurred in Gambel oak-dominated woodland.
Narrow buffer zones increase the amount of edge habitat, which often increases egg parasitism, especially by species such as Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater; Gates & Giffen 1991; Bohning-Gaese et al.
A similar effect has been observed with the Brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater).
Skillful at stealth and stalking, brown-headed cow-birds parasitize birds of about 200 other species throughout North America; researchers have observed that birds of 144 of those species have raised cowbird offspring.
Bettina Frankham's study of the online platform Cowbird explores one way in which participatory documentary practices have been renewed in an online social media environment.
Species Number of files Bogota moorhen 17 Swamp wren 30 Silvery-throated spinetail 22 Bogota nunbird 35 Common wren 32 Tropical kingbird 25 Hummingbird 31 Yellow beak moorhen 12 Red beak moorhen 12 Blackbird 13 Shiny cowbird 24 Rufous-collared sparrow 18 Total 300 Characterization 206 bird songs were used from eight typical species of the wetland ecosystems or of particular interest for conservation, 25 files on average per species.