Molothrus bonariensis - (Gmelin, 1789)
Shiny Cowbird
Other Common Names: Chopim-Gaudério, Azulão
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Molothrus bonariensis (Gmelin, 1789) (TSN 179117)
French Common Names: Vacher luisant
Spanish Common Names: Mirlo, Tordo Común
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.104019
Element Code: ABPBXB7010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Perching Birds
Image 7705

© Larry Master

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Passeriformes Icteridae Molothrus
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Molothrus bonariensis
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 04Dec1996
Global Status Last Changed: 04Dec1996
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N2N3N,N3N4B (16Jan1998)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (SNRM), Florida (SNR), Georgia (SNA), North Carolina (SNA)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: RESIDENT: from eastern Panama south through most of South America to central Chile and central Argentina; during 1900s range expanded though Lesser and Greater Antilles, reaching Puerto Rico in 1955 and Hispaniola in 1970s (AOU 1998, Post and Wiley 1977). Established on Barbados (probably an introduction) and Grenada (AOU 1998). Has reached Cuba, Curacao, and the Bahamas (Derbot and Prins 1992, Carib. J. Sci. 28:104-105; Baltz 1995). Spreading with deforestation along rivers in Amazonia (Ridgely and Tudor 1989). Expansion in range has accompanied large-scale habitat alterations (deforestation) associated with agriculture and animal husbandry (Post and Wiley 1977, Cavalcanti and Pimentel 1988). Now established in southern Florida and occurring rarely to western Florida and southern Georgia, and casually west to central Texas and Oklahoma and north to North Carolina; accidental in Maine (AOU 1998).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) RESIDENT: from eastern Panama south through most of South America to central Chile and central Argentina; during 1900s range expanded though Lesser and Greater Antilles, reaching Puerto Rico in 1955 and Hispaniola in 1970s (AOU 1998, Post and Wiley 1977). Established on Barbados (probably an introduction) and Grenada (AOU 1998). Has reached Cuba, Curacao, and the Bahamas (Derbot and Prins 1992, Carib. J. Sci. 28:104-105; Baltz 1995). Spreading with deforestation along rivers in Amazonia (Ridgely and Tudor 1989). Expansion in range has accompanied large-scale habitat alterations (deforestation) associated with agriculture and animal husbandry (Post and Wiley 1977, Cavalcanti and Pimentel 1988). Now established in southern Florida and occurring rarely to western Florida and southern Georgia, and casually west to central Texas and Oklahoma and north to North Carolina; accidental in Maine (AOU 1998).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, FL, GA, NC

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002; WWF-US, 2000

Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A small bird (cowbird).
Reproduction Comments: In Puerto Rico, lays eggs mainly March-July (Wiley 1988). In nests of AGELAIUS XANTHOMUS, lays 2-5 eggs per nest (Post and Wiley 1977). Incubation and rearing of young by host species; up to 3-4 cowbirds may fledge from nest of certain hosts (Wiley 1985).
Ecology Comments: Implicated in decline of several island bird populations, including yellow-shouldered blackbird in Puerto Rico. Other host species that should be monitored for possible cowbird-induced decline include Puerto Rican flycatcher, black-whiskered vireo, black-cowled oriole, and troupial (Cruz et al. 1989). Brood parasitism reduces nesting success and productivity of hosts (Wiley 1985).

Roosts communally in large numbers (1000s in Puerto Rico) with AGELAIUS XANTHOMUS and QUISCALUS NIGER (Post and Wiley 1977); otherwise occurs alone or more frequently in small loose groups. Females commuted daily about 4 kilometers between feeding and breeding areas (Woodworth 1993).

Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: In Puerto Rico, common along southwestern coast June-October; few remain in coastal zone after October (Post and Wiley 1977). In U.S., apparently permanent residents south of Tampa, Florida, but numbers increase in northern part of range, possibly as a result of incursions from the Greater Antilles (Post et al. 1993).
Estuarine Habitat(s): Scrub-shrub wetland
Palustrine Habitat(s): HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cropland/hedgerow, Grassland/herbaceous, Savanna, Suburban/orchard, Woodland - Hardwood
Habitat Comments: Various habitats but prefers open areas (Cruz et al. 1989). Partly open situations with scattered trees, open woodland, cultivated lands, pastures, marshes, and around human habitation (AOU 1983).

Brood parasite and host generalist; lays eggs in nests of many other bird species. In Puerto Rico (and elsewhere), heavily parasitized species include DENDROICA PETECHIA, VIREO ALTILOQUUS, MYIARCHUS ANTILLARUM, and various icterids, including ICTERUS DOMINICENSIS and AGELAIUS XANTHOMUS (Wiley 1985, Post et al. 1993). See Cavalcanti and Pimentel (1988) for hosts in central Brazil.

Adult Food Habits: Granivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Granivore, Invertivore
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Length: 20 centimeters
Weight: 39 grams
Economic Attributes
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Economic Comments: When present in large numbers, can have important effects on corn and rice cultivation (Borja 1990).
Management Summary
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Management Requirements: Easily captured in traps baited with grain; trapping of cowbirds apparently is the most effective management technique for recovery of parasitized bird populations (Wiley 1985; see also Heisterberg and Nunez-Garcia 1988).
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Passerines

Use Class: Breeding
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Nest Site, Nesting Colony
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding, or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.

Mapping Guidance: Breeding occurrences include nesting areas as well as foraging areas.

For swallows and other species that have separate nesting and foraging areas, separations are based on nest sites or nesting areas, not to locations of foraging individuals. For example, nesting areas separated by a gap larger than the separation distance are different occurrences, regardless of the foraging locations of individuals from those nesting areas. This separation procedure is appropriate because nesting areas are the critical aspect of swallow breeding occurrences, tend to be relatively stable or at least somwhat predictable in general location, and so are the basis for effective conservation; foraging areas are much more flexible and not necessarily static.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Significant dispersal and associated high potential for gene flow among populations of birds separated by tens of kilometers (e.g., Moore and Dolbeer 1989), and increasing evidence that individuals leave their usual home range to engage in extrapair copulations, as well as long foraging excursions of some species, make it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for songbirds and flycatchers; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other.

Be careful not to separate a population's nesting areas and foraging areas as different occurrences; include them in the same occurrence even if they are more than 5 km apart. Mean foraging radius (from nesting area) of Brown-headed Cowbird females was 4.0 kilometers in California, 1.2 kilometers in Illinois-Missouri (Thompson 1994). Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Brewer's Blackbirds, and probably Red-winged Blackbirds all forage up to 1.6 kilometers away from breeding colony (Willson 1966, Horn 1968). In one study, Brewer's Blackbirds were found as far as 10 kilometers from nesting area (Williams 1952), but this may be unusual.

For swallows and other parrerines with similar behavioral ecology, separation distance pertains to nest sites or nesting colonies, not to locations of foraging individuals. For example, nesting areas separated by a gap of more than 5 km are different occurrences, regardless of the foraging locations of individuals from those nesting areas. This separation procedure is appropriate because nesting areas are the critical aspect of swallow breeding occurrences, tend to be relatively stable or at least somwhat predictable in general location, and so are the basis for effective conservation; foraging areas are much more flexible and not necessarily static.

Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.

Unsuitable habitat: Habitat not normally used for breeding/feeding by a particular species. For example, unsuitable habitat for grassland and shrubland birds includes forest/woodland, urban/suburban, and aquatic habitats. Most habitats would be suitable for birds with versatile foraging habits (e.g., most corvids).

Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.

Use Class: Migratory stopover
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Roost Site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: For most passerines: Evidence of recurring presence of migrating individuals (including historical) and potential recurring presence at a given location; minimally a reliable observation of 25 birds in appropriate habitat.

For swallows: Evidence of recurring presence of migrating flocks (including historical) and potential recurring presence at a given location; minimally a reliable observation of 100 birds in appropriate habitat (e.g., traditional roost sites).

Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 7 days annually.

EOs should not be described for species that are nomadic during nonbreeding season: e.g., Lark Bunting.

Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance somewhat arbitrary but intended to define occurrences of managable size for conservation purposes. Occurrences defined primarily on the basis of areas supporting concentrations of birds, rather than on the basis of distinct populations.

For swallows and other species with similar behavioral ecology, the separation distance pertains to communal roost sites rather than to foraging areas; the former tend to be more stable and specific over time than the latter.

Date: 03Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G., and S. Cannings

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Roost Site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Any area used traditionally in the nonbreeding season (used for populations that are not resident in a location year-round). Minimally, reliable observations of 10 or more individuals in appropriate habitat for 20 or more days at a time. For G1-G3 species, observations of fewer individuals could constitute an occurrence of conservation value. Sites used during migration should be documented under the 'migratory stopover' location use class.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance is necessarily arbitrary but attempts to balance the high mobility of birds with the need for occurrences of reasonable spatial scope. Note that a population's roost sites and foraging areas are parts of the same occurrence, even if they are more than 5 km apart.

For swallows and other species with similar behavioral ecology, the separation distance pertains to communal roost sites rather than to foraging areas; the former tend to be more stable and specific over time than the latter.

Date: 03Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.

Use Class: Nonmigratory
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a particular location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals in or near appropriate habitat.

These occurrence specifications are used for nonmigratory populations of passerine birds.

Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Significant dispersal and associated high potential for gene flow among populations of birds separated by tens of kilometers (e.g., Moore and Dolbeer 1989), and increasing evidence that individuals leave their usual home range to engage in extrapair copulations, as well as long foraging excursions of some species, make it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for songbirds and flycatchers; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other.

Be careful not to separate a population's nesting areas and breeding-season foraging areas as different occurrences; include them in the same occurrence even if they are more than 5 km apart. Blue jays have small summer home ranges but fly up to 4 kilometers to harvest mast (Tarvin and Woolfenden 1999). Flocks of pinyon jays range over 21-29 square kilometers (Ligon 1971, Balda and Bateman 1971); nesting and foraging areas may be widely separated. Tricolored blackbirds forage in flocks that range widely to more than 15 kilometers from the nesting colony (Beedy and Hamilton 1999).

Unsuitable habitat: Habitat not normally used for breeding/feeding by a particular species. For example, unsuitable habitat for grassland and shrubland birds includes forest/woodland, urban/suburban, and aquatic habitats. Most habitats would be suitable for birds with versatile foraging habits (e.g., most corvids).

Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
Notes: These specs pertain to nonmigratory species.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 06Dec1994
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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