Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Icteridae
  • Polytypic: 7 subspecies
  • Authors: Peter E. Lowther

Priorities for Future Research

Many gaps remain in our knowledge of the Shiny Cowbird. Such information is gained only by detailed studies of marked individuals. Because individuals of this species have apparently large home ranges, radiotelemetry may be a key to such study. In particular, more information is needed on the population dynamics and social structure of cowbird populations; such data will be necessary before the species can be managed effectively.

Some host species whose populations were already affected by habitat destruction are likely stressed by the impact of brood parasitism.  Populations of both Yellow-shouldered Blackbird (Agelaius xanthomus; Post 1981a, Post and Wiley 1976, 1977b) and Puerto Rican Vireo (Vireo latimeri ;Faaborg et al. 1997, Woodworth 1995, 1997) have been impacted by the spread of Shiny Cowbirds in the West Indies, and in Ecuador, cowbird parasitism has limited numbers of Pale-headed Brush-finch [Atlapetes pallidiceps; Krabbe et al. 2011]). Further research is needed to determine the effect of the cowbird on other heavily parasitized species -- e.g., the St. Lucia Oriole (Icterus laudabilis; Wood 1987), the Black-cowled Oriole (Icterus prosthemelas; Wiley 1985, Pérez-Rivera 1986) and the Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia; Wiley 1985).

Recommended Citation

Lowther, P. E. (2011). Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.