brown-headed cowbird


brown-head·​ed cowbird ˈbrau̇n-ˌhe-dəd- How to pronounce brown-headed cowbird (audio)
: a cowbird (Molothrus ater) widespread in the U.S. and southern Canada in which the male is black with a brown head and the female is gray
The most famous brood parasites, the European cuckoo and the brown-headed cowbird, lay their eggs in nests of other species.Charles R. Brown and Mary Bomberger Brown
Sadly, the vireo is vulnerable to a nest parasite, the brown-headed cowbird, that flourishes near livestock and in urban fringe areas.Karen D. Fishler

Examples of brown-headed cowbird in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But the bird also has to contend with the brown-headed cowbird, which is known to lay its eggs in other bird’s nests, including the least bell’s vireo’s. Maura Fox, San Diego Union-Tribune, 28 Feb. 2024 Unfortunately, the begging bird was the progeny of a brood parasite, a brown-headed cowbird. Taylor Piephoff, Charlotte Observer, 31 Jan. 2024 The tufted titmouse, for example, which makes some 63 vocalizations and learns them throughout its life, performed problem-solving tasks more quickly than the brown-headed cowbird, which learns about nine vocalizations during one specific period, writes Science News’ Darren Incorvaia. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 19 Sep. 2023 The scientists assessed a number of papers stretching back as far as 2004 to draw their conclusion, researching the behavior of species including the Acadian flycatcher, brown-headed cowbird, indigo bunting and worm-eating warbler. Sara Spary, CNN, 16 Nov. 2020 Another requirement will be continued vigilance against brown-headed cowbirds, which invade warblers’ nests and displace their babies. John Flesher, Detroit Free Press, 11 Apr. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'brown-headed cowbird.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1949, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of brown-headed cowbird was in 1949

Dictionary Entries Near brown-headed cowbird

Cite this Entry

“Brown-headed cowbird.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jul. 2024.

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