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  1. any of several New World blackbirds of the genus Molothrus, especially M. ater, of North America, that accompany herds of cattle.

Origin of cowbird

An Americanism dating back to 1795–1805; cow1 + bird
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cowbird

Historical Examples

  • The cowbird's tactics are probably to watch the movements of the parent bird.

    Bird Stories from Burroughs

    John Burroughs

  • Every cowbird is reared at the expense of two or more song-birds.

  • One of these is called the Argentine cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis).

    Our Bird Comrades</p>

    Leander S. (Leander Sylvester) Keyser

  • Despite this fact the Cowbird's eggs are often first to hatch.

    The Bird Study Book</p>

    Thomas Gilbert Pearson

  • It is little wonder that discerning people are not fond of the Cowbird.

    The Bird Study Book</p>

    Thomas Gilbert Pearson

British Dictionary definitions for cowbird


  1. any of various American orioles of the genera Molothrus, Tangavius, etc, esp M. ater (common or brown-headed cowbird). They have a dark plumage and short bill
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

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