Shiny Cowbird: Small blackbird with purple sheen on head, back, breast. Eyes are dark. Black bill, legs, feet. Forages on ground, walking with tail cocked above back. Eats insects, caterpillars, seeds and rice. Swift direct flight on rapid wing beats. Travels alone or in small flocks.
Range and Habitat
Shiny Cowbird: Primarily a South American species, it spread through the West Indies and arrived in southern Florida in 1985. Casual from Texas to North Carolina. Accidental to Oklahoma, Maine, and Maritimes.
The Shiny Cowbird first reached the United States in 1985 when a single male was seen in the Florida Keys. By the early 1990s they were considered permanent residents in southern Florida. In the next few years individuals were seen as far away as Texas and Virginia.
They are a widespread species in South America, and seven different subspecies have been described. The northern form, the one that made it to Florida, is the smallest.
They began expanding their range out of South America around 1900. Their spread was assisted by the removal of natural forest cover on Caribbean islands. They are blamed for the near extinction of several native island species, such as the Martinique Oriole of Martinique and the Yellow-shouldered Blackbird of Puerto Rico.
A group of cowbirds are collectively known as a "corral" and a "herd" of cowbirds.
The Shiny Cowbird has a large range, estimated globally at 13,000,000 square kilometers. Native to the Americas and nearby island nations, this bird prefers forest, grassland, and shrubland ecosystems. The global population of this bird is estimated at 50,000,000 individuals and does not show signs of decline that would necessitate inclusion on the IUCN Red List. For this reason, the current evaluation status of the Shiny Cowbird is Least Concern.