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Blue & Black

“Blue & Black” (Brown-headed Cowbird, Adult Male, Molothrus ater) Nikon D300, 1000mm (600mm w/1.7x teleconverter), F/6.7, 1/200s, -0.7EV, ISO 640

When I photographed this bird at one of the birdbaths, I thought it was a Common Blackbird. Nope. Okay…Grackle? Nope. 

Crow? Nope. Too small. 

Starling? Nope. No spots. 


I finally was able to identify my mystery bird. Ladies and Gentlemen, what we have here is the Brown-headed Cowbird! 

Strange name, isn’t it?

I’ll concede the brown head, but, hard as I tried, I couldn’t find a single udder on him… 😉



  1. Cowbirds are parasite-like. They don’t raise their own young. They lay their eggs in another bird’s nest, and because they hatch first, the young cowbirds have an edge over being fed by their unknowingly adoptive parents.

    • Hi Randy. Yes, I knew this from my research, but didn’t want to taint people’s opinion of the bird. Just wanted them to enjoy the beauty of the blue-black feathers. But, I guess, no harm in knowing the good with the bad. Some might say the cowbird is highly intelligent as it does it’s best to make sure its species survive. We may not approve of their methods but you have to give them credit for their ingenuity! Thanks for the info!

  2. That’s cool, great capture too. If I ever see one, I’ll know that that’s a brownheaded cow bird, very interesting 🙂

    • Thanks, Consuelo! I’m learning so much just by photographing and identifying the birds in my own landscape. Should have done this years ago! 🙂

  3. I think your confusion is udderly understandable! I don’t see any either.
    I’ve never heard of this bird, in fact when I first looked at the photograph I thought it might have been the offspring one of those strange “marriages” that sometimes occur in nature, for instance between a blackbird and a sparrow,(or any other brown coloured bird). Interesting to learn a bit about a bird I didn’t know of at all. Thanks!

    • Thank you, Kiwi!

      I thought it might be a mix as well, but I had seen them before. I just found it funny that I thought I knew what it was and turned out I was so very wrong. So, you and me both learnt something today! 🙂

  4. Hey, at least they’re giving them up for adoption, and not leaving them in a dumpster, right?

    You’re really having fun with the bird bath visitors, aren’t you? Here’s an idea… if you run out of birds who are willing to model for you, why not float a flower in it? Wish I still had walnut shells, I’d send you a little boat 🙂

    Neat looking bird… I think it’s male, that’s why you couldn’t find an udder 😉

    • LOL! You are too funny, Michaela! Thanks for the laugh! (Dumpster…hilarious!)

      Yeah, the birds really like that particular bath and it is in a great photographic spot (gets nice light). So, I imagine it will be featured a few (hundred) more times. 😉

      The flower idea is neat….I just might try that! I have walnuts so no worries there…:-)

      I was waiting for someone to point that out!! YOU win the prize!! 🙂

  5. I think we are udderly out of jokes here. Moving on. 😀

    • Ha! So now everyone thinks they’re a comedian! (I always suspected that of you, Scott!) 😉

  6. You sure do have to love it when you come across something other than the norm don’t you… and birds sure do have the ability to surprise… Many a time I’ve had to come home and refer to the books to determine exactly what I’ve seen… Another wonderful find Tracy, and the perfect capture… 🙂

    • Thansk so much, Brian! 🙂

      Yes, it has been eye-opening to say the least! Now I have to photograph the other blackbirds ( I do like the red-winged ones) and see what other wonders my lens discovers! 🙂

  7. A fantastic image Tracy!!! I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but I don’t see too many birds in my birdbath. I’ll have to put a feeder closer to it. Do you have any other hints for me? Thanks!

    • Thanks, Carol!

      Yes, I’d put a feeder near it, that should help (although not absolutely necessary). Almost all of the birdbaths in my yard are very near to feeders. The only one that isn’t is the only one that is also a fountain, so the sound of trickling water helps to draw them to that one. And, for birds to feel comfortable bathing, the birdbath needs to be near trees and/or shrubs. They don’t want to be too exposed and like a spot where they can check things out before descending.

      One other thing….birdbaths should be somewhat shallow. I see many that are too deep. If yours has deep basin, only put a couple of inches of water into it.

      Once you start getting alot of birds, be prepared to do some maintenance! The baths get dirty quickly and will need to be dumped and scrubbed on a regular basis. A tiny bit of bleach helps to remove any mildew or algae that grows (I use the Chlorox Cleanup spray).

      Good luck! 🙂

  8. I’ve heard of cowbirds, but I thought they lived in cow country, not near the seashore.

  9. Nice shot and good work on the ID.

  10. So that is a cowbird. It was nice of him to pose so nicely for you. The background is lovely.

    • Yep! Apparantly so! (You’d think the least he could do is wear the hat, ya know?) 😉

      Thank you!

  11. He’s very regal looking. I love the colors and the background!

    • Thank you, Jan! That is quite the little photo spot I have there with that birdbath. I can pretty much count on a good background at certain times of the day. Now, if only the brids would SHOW UP at said times, I’d have alot more birds to post! 🙂

  12. wow, that birdbath is a hotspot!

    i don’t know about anyone else, but brown-headed cowbird is the first think i think of when trying to identify avian beasts: brown-headed cowbird? nope, it’s white. umm…you got me.

    • Yes, yes it is! I feel most lucky!

      Ha! I know – how ridiculous is that?!

      Puh-lease tell me you will keep your quick wit and sense of humor once you become a working lawyer?? 🙂

  13. He’s looking over his shoulder at you like he’s thinking, “Don’t you DARE check me for udders!”. lol. Gorgeous capture Tracy 🙂

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