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: a brown and black North American bird that lays its eggs in the nests of other birds
Full Definition of COWBIRD
: any of a genus (Molothrus of the family Icteridae) of New World blackbirds that lay their eggs in the nests of other birds; especially: one (M. ater) widespread in the United States and southern Canada in which the male is black with a brown head and the female is gray
Any of six passerine species related to New World blackbirds (family Icteridae) that exhibit brood parasitism. Cowbirds lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, usually one to each host nest. Young cowbirds, which displace nestlings or outcompete them for food, may grow larger than the foster parents. In parts of North America, the brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) parasitizes the nests of more than 200 other bird species; others use the nests of only one or two kinds of oriole. Cowbirds forage on the ground, often associating with cattle in order to catch insects stirred up by the cows' hooves. The male of most species is a uniform glossy black, the female grayish brown.