English and Scientific names:

Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis)


Number of individuals: 

1 adult male



Cameron Parish

Specific Locality:

Oak Grove Sanctuary & Cemetery

Date(s) when observed:

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Time(s) of day when observed:  

4:30 PM


Reporting observer and address:

Jeffrey W. Harris
Baton Rouge, LA 70820

Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):

Jerry Lenhard

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s)


Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

Bright and sunny in open and recently mowed lawn.


Optical equipment: 

8 x 42 binocular; Alpen; good condition


Distance to bird(s): 

40 feet in an automobile.


Duration of observation:

We watched the bird for 15 minutes as it foraged with a small flock of Brown-headed Cowbirds.



Short grass in the open with stately oaks nearby.


Behavior of bird: 

This bird behaved remarkably similar to the Brown-headed Cowbirds that accompanied it.  It foraged continually while we watched with its head down and the tail held almost perpendicular to the ground.  The wing tips hung out to the sides as the bird worked some kind of tiny seeds that could not be discerned from our vantage.  Sometimes, the posture of the bird was so similar to neighboring Brown-headed Cowbirds, that I had to wait on it to pop up his head to relocate the bird.  This bird even scratched the dirt in the same manner as its nearby cousins.  If the head and body color were not different, it would seem like just another Brown-headed Cowbird.



The most outstanding feature was the foraging posture.  The erect tail had a clubbed appearance, with the distal end having an enlarged and lobed appearance.  The next most noticeable characteristic was a purplish sheen that covered the head and mantle when the sunlight hit the bird just right.  The purple color was deep, but as the bird shifted, some light blue colors also appeared in the head area.  However, the head never had the brown color that was typical of the nearby cousin species.  Sometimes the purple color disappeared and the bird just appeared black.  The bill was black and thin.  The eyes did not stand out and seemed black. Even the legs looked black from our vantage.  The bird seemed identical in size to the Brown-head Cowbirds and similar in size to an Inca Dove that was also foraging with the group.



The bird did not vocalize.

Similar species:

The Brown-headed Cowbirds were there for a side-by-side comparison.  I did not see a hooded shoulder or red eye that might be expected in a Bronzed Cowbird.  Plus, we were alerted to the presence of this bird by others who had already identified the bird.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

I took a videotape using a miniDV camcorder.


Previous experience with this species: 

I had seen this species once before this instance at feeders on Grand Isle, Louisiana.

Identification aids:

I used Sibley's and Peterson's guides to verify identification a couple of days after the sighting.

This description is written from: 

This description is from memory.


Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 


Yes.  Partly because others have identified the bird.  Secondly, the bird fits the guide descriptions too well to be anything else.

Date and time: 

April 26, 2010; 10:00 PM