English and Scientific names:

Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis)


Number of individuals: 

1 probable 1st year male, based on the mottle brownish underparts.


Locality: LOUISIANA: 

Jefferson Parish

Specific Locality:

Grand Isle


Date(s) when observed:

May 16, 2004

Time(s) of day when observed:  

~3:00-4:00 p.m.


Reporting observer and address:


Phillip Wallace

New Orleans, LA


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

Mac Myers, David Muth, Dan Purrington


Light conditions: 


Optical equipment: 

Zeiss 10x40 binoculars


Distance to bird(s): 

5-15 yards

Duration of observation:

~10 minutes



At seed feeder at Bobby Santany's; suburban backyard with mulberry and tallow trees, etc.


Behavior of bird: 

Feeding with other noxious birds, such as ECDO, Brown-headed and Bronzed Cowbirds. Very nervous, flying often.



Approximately the same size and shape as adjacent Brown-headed, although perhaps a little trimmer. The head and mantle were a glossy blue color. The mid-back was a duller blackish-brown color. The wings were mostly glossy black but with some dull brown, especially the coverts. The throat and upper breast were the same glossy blue color as the mantle and head. The rest of the under parts were dull brownish-black with some pale mottling and streaking. The upper tail had the glossy blue color of the head in some light; otherwise, it appeared dull brownish-black. The grayish bill was long and sharp-pointed. It was thicker at the base than I had remembered. The iris was dark brown and the legs were dark.





Similar species:

  • Bronzed Cowbird is eliminated by the slim shape of the head and the bluish gloss, as well as the dark eye, which was seen well. The bill shape and size were fairly close to that of a Bronzed, but there was a more pronounced curved forehead on this bird than a Bronzed shows.
  •  Red-wing is eliminated by bill shape and absence of color in the coverts.
  • Other blackbirds are eliminated by eye color.


Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Stills from the video accompany this report. The full video will be sent to the LBRC. Muth got video, and Myers may have gotten photos.


Previous experience with this species: 

I've seen several times in LA.


Identification aids after observation:


Photos in AMERICAN BIRDS and BIRDING to check on bill.


Notes made from memory?   

Yes-- Description is also based on video.


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


Yes. Notes also made in reference to videotape of the birds.



Phillip Wallace

Date and time: 

June 7, 2004; 8:00 p.m.