US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Shaffer, Jill A., Christopher M. Goldade, Meghan F. Dinkins, Douglas H. Johnson, Lawrence D. Igl, and Betty R. Euliss. 2003.
Brown-headed Cowbirds in grasslands: their habitats, hosts, and response to management.
Prairie Naturalist 35(3):145-186. Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Online: (Version 28MAY2004).


The brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) is an obligate brood parasite whose numbers have increased in recent decades to the potential detriment of the species that they parasitize. Thus, most management efforts focus on discouraging brown-headed cowbird parasitism or controlling brown-headed cowbird populations. Keys to discouraging cowbird parasitism or controlling populations of brown-headed cowbirds in the Great Plains are maintaining large expanses of grassland, eliminating foraging areas (e.g., feedlots) and perch sites, and reducing the extent of overgrazed pastures.