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Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater

Flight call description There are three primary flight calls. Most often heard is the flight whistle, a variable, drawn-out, two or three-parted whistle, with notes on different pitches. Less conspicuous is a soft "gup" call. Also heard regularly is a rattle call, a series of dry notes, often increasing in strength toward the end. Another call given mostly in short flights or on take off is a gurgle-whistle song, "tsi -ser-dseee" or "glug-glr-dseee" (variable).


Fig.1. New York March 23, 1989 (WRE).

Flight whistle from bird in flight.



Fig.2. New York August 30, 2001 (WRE).

"Gup" call from bird in flight.



Fig.3. Texas April 23, 2001 (MO).

Rattle from perched bird.



Fig.4. Texas April 24, 2001 (MO).

Song or gurgle-whistle from perched bird.


Examples     Diurnal


Similar species See Bronzed and Shiny Cowbirds and Longspur rattles.


Behavior Primarily a diurnal migrant. Flight whistle given regularly by flying birds but apparently seldom by perched birds. "Gup" call apparently given infrequently by perched or flying birds. Rattle call given regularly by perched and flying birds. Gurgle-whistle song given primarily by perched birds but occasionally in short flights. Not known to give calls at night.