Brown-headed Cowbird
Molothrus ater

Picture property of Fernbank Science Center   Conditions of Use

Brown headed cowbirds are brood parasites, meaning the female lays her eggs in the nest of other species.  

To learn more about brood parasitism click here.

Field Marks
  • Brown head
  • Black body, wings and tail


Cowbirds prefer habitats with low or scattered trees among grassland vegetation, such as woodland edges, brushy thickets, prairies, fields, pastures, orchards, and residential areas. Fragmentation of forests has greatly increased the Brown-headed Cowbirds favorite habitat.


Common in Atlanta all year.  Usually seen in open habitats.  In the fall and winter they are usually seen in large flocks