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New World bird of the blackbird and oriole (hangnest) family. The male eastern, or common, cowbird is glossy black, about 8 in. (20 cm) long, with a brown head and breast; the female is gray. Most cowbirds lay their eggs in the nests of smaller bird species, victimizing especially vireos, sparrows, and flycatchers. Sometimes the alien egg is ejected or buried under a new nest floor or the nest is abandoned, but usually the host bird incubates the egg and feeds the voracious intruder while its smaller offspring are starved or crowded out. Cowbirds eat seeds but feed chiefly on insects, following behind grazing cattle in order to capture the insects stirred up in this way—hence the name cowbird and the earlier name buffalo bird. Related birds are the bronzed, the California, the dwarf, the Nevada, and the red-eyed cowbirds. Cowbirds are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Icteridae.
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It also shows how the death of large mammals 20,000 years ago led to the disappearance of one species of cowbird.
In the metaphor "The cowbird is a freeloader," "cowbird" is the principal subject and "freeloader" the subordinate subject, according to Black's (1954) analysis.
Meanwhile, the Cowbirds, who represented the real Communists, were able to take over Mother Stork's nest and replace her eggs with their own:
This month's cover image, [1] Plate 99 from Birds of America (printed in stages during 1827-1838) by American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter John James Audubon (1785-1851), shows a pair of oft-vilified brown-headed cowbirds.
These challenges can impede our ability to detect cowbird parasitism, predation events, and other causes of nest failure that occur during incubation or brooding.
This hypothesis predicts that it would be advantageous for female cowbirds to be able distinguish between heterospecific vocalizations, to preferentially parasitize more suitable hosts (those accepting cowbird eggs and regularly raising cowbird offspring), and to avoid species that are highly aggressive, likely to reject cowbird eggs (Hauber et al.
Even with parasitic cowbirds, "which are sometimes mistakenly cited as examples of parasites that are not very harmful," he says, hosts nearly always lose all of their young because cowbirds outcompete the host chicks.
We conducted statistical analyses with portions of the dataset that allowed robust comparisons: relative abundance of all individuals, relative abundance of the four most commonly encountered species (brownheaded cowbird, dickcissel, eastern meadowlark, and grasshopper sparrow; see Table 2 for scientific nomenclature), and relative species richness.
The species' recovery program, which has focused on adaptive jack pine management, brown-headed cowbird trapping, population monitoring, public education and research, has been extraordinarily effective.
If they kick the moocher chicks out of the nest, the cowbird parents seek revenge.
The young cowbird was so loud and demanding and the poor little junko was so quiet and accommodating.