Brown-headed Cowbird

Molothrus ater (Boddaert, 1783) 18990
Family: Passeriformes > Icteridae

Brown-headed Cowbird is a species that parasitises the nests of other birds in its North American breeding grounds. This Starling-sized bird was added to the British List because of an individual found on Islay, Argyll in April 1988.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Brown-headed Cowbird

  • Breeding
  • Winter
15 records observations recorded by BTO surveyors
15 records


15 records observations recorded by BTO surveyors
15 records



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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.


We have no population estimates for this scarce species.


This species is a rare vagrant and was recorded during Bird Atlas 2007–11 as shown on the map.

Brown-headed Cowbird breeding distribution 2008-11
Britain and Ireland Breeding Distribution 2008-2011.
More from the Atlas Mapstore.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.


Lifecycle and body size information about Brown-headed Cowbird, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.


Sample sizes are too small to report Productivity and Nesting statistics for this species.


Sample sizes are too small to report Biometrics for this species.

Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Welsh: Aderyn Gwartheg Penfrown
Catalan: vaquer de cap bru
Czech: vlhovec hnedohlavý
Danish: Brunhovedet Kostær
Dutch: Bruinkopkoevogel
Estonian: piisoniturpial
Finnish: lehmäturpiaali
French: Vacher à tête brune
German: Braunkopf-Kuhstärling
Hungarian: barnafeju gulyajáró
Icelandic: Kúastarli
Italian: Molotro testabruna
Latvian: brungalvas govjputns
Lithuanian: rudagalvis karvapaukštis
Norwegian: Brunhodetrupial
Polish: starzyk brunatnoglowy
Portuguese: chopim-mulato
Slovak: zanášac cierny
Slovenian: rjavoglavi kravar
Spanish: Tordo cabecipardo
Swedish: brunhuvad kostare

Links to more information from

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