Brown-headed Cowbird Calls (Learn 3 COMMON Sounds)

Brown-headed Cowbirds have earned a negative reputation for their habitat of relying on other bird species to raise their young.

Interestingly, females will lay eggs in the nests of other birds, relying on the host bird to unknowingly care for and raise the cowbirds! Sadly, the host bird usually loses some of its own young caring for the fast-growing cowbirds.

brown headed cowbird calls and sounds

But despite being raised by other species, Brown-headed Cowbirds are able to produce their own specie’s unique songs and calls! It’s a bit of a mystery, as many scientists contemplate why they wouldn’t learn the sounds of the bird that raised them.

Below you’ll learn three common songs and calls of the Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater).

  • Make sure to press PLAY on the audio files below. 🙂

Brown-headed Cowbird calls & sounds:


Sound #1: The song

Only male Brown-headed Cowbirds make a true song. Listen for a series of unique, liquid, gurgled notes followed by a thin, high-pitched sliding whistle. The song typically only lasts a second. Phonetically it sounds like “glug-glug-gliiii.”


Sound #2: Whistles

Both male and female Brown-headed Cowbirds make a variety of whistles, clicking, and other chattering noises.

They also make a specific sound while flying, known as a flight whistle. These flight whistles usually consist of 2 to 5 sweeping, whistled notes with trills and buzzes occasionally mixed in.


Sound #3: Clicking and chattering

You may also hear Brown-headed Cowbirds making clicking or chattering calls. Females often make a distinctive, rolling chatter that’s attractive to males. Males will also make chattering calls but less frequently.


Have you heard the calls and sounds of a Brown-headed Cowbird before?

If so, please let us know below!

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