- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Icteridae
The velvety, deep purple male Shiny Cowbird is a handsome blackbird; the brownish female closely resembles the Brown-headed Cowbird. This native of South America is a nest parasite—it lays its eggs in the nests of other species and does not raise its own young. In the 20th century, Shiny Cowbirds expanded their range into the Caribbean and reached southern Florida in the mid-1980s. The range expansion of the Shiny Cowbird has raised conservation concerns with some endangered bird species in the Caribbean.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Shiny Cowbirds can be tricky to find in the U.S. where they are still uncommon, even in their stronghold of southern Florida. Elsewhere in the southeastern U.S., Shiny Cowbirds are rare but slowly increasing. The town of Flamingo in Everglades National Park has been a reliable place to search for the species, which frequents parks, roadsides, and picnic areas.
- Tordo Renegrido (Spanish)
- Vacher luisant (French)
- Cool Facts
- The Shiny Cowbird is a recent arrival in the U.S. It began expanding its range out of South America and into the Caribbean around 1900, aided by the removal of natural forest cover. The species first reached the U.S. in 1985, when a single male was seen in the Florida Keys; by the 1990s they were permanent residents there.
- Even though Shiny Cowbirds have been living in Florida since the 1980s, no nest has ever been found in the state with confirmed Shiny Cowbird eggs or chicks in it. This is largely because the chicks and juveniles so strongly resemble those of the Brown-headed Cowbird.
- Male Shiny Cowbirds often approach other males or blackbirds of other species, lower their heads, raise their crown feathers, and remain motionless. In most cases, the other bird begins to preen the head feathers of the Shiny Cowbird. The reasons for this display, called a “preening invitation,” are not known.