Bronzed Cowbird

Molothrus aeneus
Range Map

Male Bronzed Cowbirds look spectacular with their shiny black feathers, refracting hints of indigo and ruby eyes burning like camp-fire embers. A mane of long neck feathers lends an appearance of power and big-headedness. Bronzed Cowbirds are resident in most of Mexico, but we also find them year-round on the Mississippi Delta in Louisiana, the far south of Texas and to a certain extent, southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.

Like other cowbirds, these birds lay their eggs in the nests of others, leaving their victims to raise the young trespassers. Cowbird babies out-compete their victim’s young and rarely do any, but the cowbird babies survive.

I’d not met any Bronzed Cowbirds until my visit to Texas in the spring of 2020. But once I settled in at Brownsville, I seemed to find them at many of the locations I visited in the region. I enjoyed watching their courtship ceremonies as the male performed a helicopter flight above his intended mate.

Today, science recognises four subspecies of Bronzed Cowbird:

  • M. a. aeneus lives in New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mexico, Central America, and northern South America.
  • M. a. loyei lives in northwest Mexico, southeast California, Arizona and New Mexico.
  • M. a. assimilis lives in southern Mexico.
  • M. a. armenti lives on the Caribbean coast of South America.

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