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Historically since the 1800s, cowbirds get their name from years of following bison as they roamed grasslands. Cowbirds would follow them to catch the food bison would kick up as they roamed. Today, cowbirds are seen following cattle in the same manner as the bison.
Fun Fact: Cowbirds are not called a flock of birds; they are called a herd of birds.
• Cowbirds are most well known and disliked because they are North America’s most common “nest parasite”. They do not build their own nests and care for their young, instead they lay their eggs in other small bird nests for that other species to care for the young. They lay their eggs in more than 220 species of birds.
• Some birds are able to recognize the difference in eggs, therefore they usually kick out they cowbird eggs, build new nest over the eggs; larger birds puncture holes in the eggs or throw them out of the nest. For the most part, many species don’t recognize the difference in eggs.
• Because cowbirds are nesting parasites, it is hard to figure out how social they are. They are not monogamous; in fact, the females have many different mates in a season.
• Males are small looking shiny black birds with a dull brown head. Females on the other hand, are much smaller than the male and are solid brown with a whitish throat.
• Male: Length of the bird is 7.5-8.7 inches; weigh 1-2 oz with a wing span of 14.2 inches
• Female: Length 6-7.9 inches; weigh 1.3-1.6 oz with a wing span of 15-12.6 inches.