Molothrus Aeneus – Bronzed Cowbird

Molothrus Aeneus - Bronzed Cowbird found in the US

Bronzed cowbirds (formerly known as red-eyed cowbirds, Molothrus aeneus) are tiny icterids. The bronze-brown cowbird, which is limited to Colombia’s Caribbean coast, was formerly thought to be an isolated population. As is the case with other cowbirds, this species is an obligatory brood parasite, laying its eggs in other birds’ nests. The host parents feed the young cowbird at the expense of their own offspring.

Quick Overview: Molothrus Aeneus – Bronzed Cowbird
Body size: Around 6.5-8.75 in (17-22 cm) and a weight of 68 g (2.4 oz)
Main colors: Black, Red, Blue
Range: Southwestern parts of the United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: All Year (January – December)
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Bronzed Cowbird Description

Bronzed Cowbirds are mostly dark blackbirds with a large beak and curled upper jaw. Adults have a reddish tint to their eyes. Males are mostly black with shiny bluish wings. A dense ruff of feathers around the neck gives the illusion of having a humpback.

Molothrus Aeneus - Bronzed Cowbird found in the US
Molothrus Aeneus – Bronzed Cowbird. Photo by: Gary Leavens

Size

These birds have a length of 6.5-8.75 in (17-22 cm) and a weight of 68 g (2.4 oz). Their wings could range from 10-13 in (25-33 cm).

Feeding

Bronzed Cowbirds feed on forbs and grass seeds, as well as some insects and other arthropods. Additionally, they ingest grains including milo, oats, maize, and rice. Bronzed Cowbirds browse on the ground, traveling quickly and stopping to pick up food with their bill, but they also remove grain from stalks, particularly milo.

Habitat

Bronzed Cowbirds enjoy wide places with few trees in the eastern United States, including agricultural fields, pastures, natural coastal prairie (Texas), mesquite woods, shrublands, and golf courses.

Behavior

Bronzed Cowbirds are social throughout the year, foraging, resting, and roosting in groups of up to 100 birds. Males outweigh females in the majority of such flocks. Their mating strategy appears to be promiscuous, with both males and females mating with several partners.

Molothrus Aeneus Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Icteridae
  • Genus: Molothrus
  • Species: Molothrus aeneus

Other common names

Formerly known as Red-eyed Cowbirds

Best time of the year to see

In the United States, the best time of year to see these birds is all year round, regardless of the season. This refers to any month of the year between January and December.

Distribution of the Bronzed Cowbird in the USA

Breeds from southern California through the southwestern United States, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, and south through the majority of New Mexico and into Panama. For the winter, northern birds move south of their range and occasionally east down the Gulf Coast to Florida.

Molothrus Aeneus – Bronzed Cowbird

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