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Brown-headed Cowbirds in Grasslands:
Their Habitats, Hosts, and Response to Management

Table 1


Rates of brood parasitism in nests of grassland bird species that are known victims of brown-headed cowbirds.1 For each species, entries are ordered by increasing parasitism rate. For commonly parasitized species, only reports of 10 or more nests are included. For rarely parasitized species, reports are included regardless of the number of nests to indicate that parasitism has been documented.
Species Parasitism
Rate (%)
No. Nests Location Source
Ferruginous hawk
(Buteo regalis)
1 record ---- North Dakota A. Eastgate in Friedmann 1929
Greater prairie-chicken
(Tympanuchus cupido)
1 record ---- Minnesota Svedarsky 1979
Upland sandpiper
(Bartramia longicauda)
0 28 Minnesota, North Dakota M. Winter and D. H. Johnson, unpubl. data
1 189 North Dakota Higgins and Kirsch 1975
5 43 Nebraska Faanes and Lingle 1995
Wilson's phalarope
(Phalaropus tricolor)
0 21 Minnesota, North Dakota M. Winter and D. H. Johnson, unpubl. data
1 386 Saskatchewan M. A. Colwell and D. Delehanty, personal communication in Colwell and Jehl 1994
Loggerhead shrike2
(Lanius ludovicianus)
<1 1661 Manitoba K. D. De Smet, Manitoba Conservation, Melita, Manitoba, personal communication
1 261 Iowa De Geus and Best 1991
Horned lark
(Eremophila alpestris)
0 163 Saskatchewan Maher 1973
2 201 Quebec Terrill 1961
3 161 Ontario Peck and James 1987
4 119 Ontario Ontario nest records in Friedmann et al. 1977
9 11 Illinois Robinson et al. 2000
16 32 Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota L. D. Igl and D. H. Johnson, unpubl. data
19 16 Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska Lowther 1977
19 26 North Dakota R. E. Stewart in Friedmann et al. 1977
45 31 Kansas Hill 1976
53 15 Saskatchewan S. K. Davis, Saskatchewan Watershed Authority, Regina, Saskatchewan, personal communication
60 84 North Dakota Koford et al. 2000
Sprague's pipit
(Anthus spragueii)
0 24 Saskatchewan B. Dale, unpubl. data in Robbins and Dale 1999
0 33 Saskatchewan Maher 1973
0 50 Saskatchewan G. C. Sutter, Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Regina, Saskatchewan, personal communication
12 58 Saskatchewan S. K. Davis, personal communication
15 20 Manitoba De Smet 1992
18 17 Manitoba Davis 1994, Davis and Sealy 2000
Clay-colored sparrow3
(Spizella pallida)
5 793 Minnesota, North Dakota M. Winter and D. H. Johnson, unpublished data
10 135 Minnesota Johnson and Temple 1990
11 204 Manitoba Hill and Sealy 1994
14 492 North Dakota Granfors et al. 2001
16 118 Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota L. D. Igl and D. H. Johnson, unpublished data
20 20 Alberta Salt 1966
21 44 Saskatchewan S. K. Davis, personal communication
23 13 Ontario Ontario nest records in Friedmann et al. 1977
24 49 North Dakota Koford et al. 2000
24 275 Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan Prairie Nest Records Scheme in Friedmann et al. 1977
33 40 Minnesota Buech 1982
36 232 Manitoba Knapton 1978
38 29 Ontario Peck and James 1987
38 42 North Dakota Romig and Crawford 1995
39 33 North Dakota Stewart 1975
Field sparrow3
(Spizella pusilla)
<1 371 Pennsylvania M. Carey in Carey et al. 1994
3 32 Michigan Evans 1976
3 36 Minnesota, North Dakota M. Winter and D. H. Johnson, unpublished data
3 66 Indiana Nolan 1963
7 122 California, Oklahoma, Texas Western Foundation Collection in Friedmann et al. 1977
11 36 Michigan Batts 1958
11 147 Illinois Best 1978
11 443 Missouri Burhans et al. 2000
14 86 Illinois Robinson et al. 2000
16 57 Pennsylvania Norris 1947
18 33 Michigan Berger 1951
19 334 Ontario Peck and James 1987
20 25 Illinois Best 1979
20 179 Ontario Ontario nest records in Friedmann et al. 1977
21 52 Michigan Sutton 1960
27 667 Michigan Walkinshaw 1978
30 10 Minnesota Buech 1982
32 72 Michigan Evans 1978
32 159 Ohio Hicks 1934
36 14 Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska Lowther 1977
52 71 Illinois Strausberger and Burhans 2001
53 19 Illinois Strausberger and Ashley 1997
59 29 Illinois Strausberger 1998
80 20 Iowa Crooks 1948, Crooks and Hendrickson 1953
Vesper sparrow
(Pooecetes gramineus)
0 10 Iowa Frawley 1989
0 12 Saskatchewan Maher 1973
0 18 Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin Harrison 1975
0 19 Saskatchewan Prairie Nest Records Scheme in Maher 1973
0 28 Minnesota, North Dakota M. Winter and D. H. Johnson, unpublished data
0 53 North Dakota Granfors et al. 2001
1 85 Michigan Evans in Berger 1968
3 107 California, Oklahoma, Texas Western Foundation Collection in Friedmann et al. 1977
4 74 Quebec Terrill 1961
8 112 Quebec Hicks 1934
10 89 Michigan Southern and Southern 1980
11 45 Iowa Rodenhouse and Best 1983
11 442 Ontario Peck and James 1987
12 195 Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan Prairie Nest Records Scheme in Friedmann et al. 1977
15 110 Saskatchewan McMaster et al. 1999
15 242 Ontario Ontario nest records in Friedmann et al. 1977
16 25 Michigan Ponshair in Berger 1968
17 18 Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota L. D. Igl and D. H. Johnson, unpublished data
26 94 North Dakota Koford et al. 2000
61 41 Iowa Stallman and Best 1996
Lark sparrow3
(Chondestes grammacus)
6 17 Oklahoma Ely 1957
7 228 California, Oklahoma, Texas Western Foundation Collection in Friedmann et al. 1977
8 25 Minnesota, North Dakota M. Winter and D. H. Johnson, unpublished data
13 15 Manitoba Walley 1985
18 11 Illinois Robinson et al. 2000
20 15 Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan Prairie Nest Records Scheme in Friedmann et al. 1977
27 22 Kansas R. F. Johnston in Friedmann 1963
46 33 Oklahoma Newman 1970
82 11 Kansas Hill 1976
Lark bunting3
(Calamospiza melanocorys)
0 30 Kansas Shane 2000
16 142 Kansas Hill 1976
20 85 Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota L. D. Igl and D. H. Johnson, unpublished data
21 77 Kansas Wilson 1976
28 18 Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota Allen 1874
55 22 Saskatchewan Sealy 1999
61 23 North Dakota Koford et al. 2000
Savannah sparrow
(Passerculus sandwichensis)
2 54 Michigan Potter 1974
4 140 Quebec Terrill 1961
7 14 Saskatchewan Prairie Nest Records Scheme in Maher 1973
7 531 Ontario Peck and James 1987
7 687 Minnesota, North Dakota M. Winter and D. H. Johnson, unpublished data
11 44 Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota L. D. Igl and D. H. Johnson, unpublished data
13 240 Ontario Ontario nest records in Friedmann et al. 1977
16 111 Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan Prairie Nest Records Scheme in Friedmann et al. 1977
21 24 Manitoba De Smet 1992
21 150 North Dakota Granfors et al. 2001
28 69 Saskatchewan S. K. Davis, personal communication
32 31 Manitoba Davis 1994, Davis and Sealy 2000
37 46 Minnesota Johnson and Temple 1990
Grasshopper sparrow3
(Ammodramus savannarum)
0 23 Missouri Winter 1998
2 100 Ohio H. F. Price in Friedmann 1963
2 21 North Dakota Granfors et al. 2001
6 48 Minnesota Johnson and Temple 1990
8 13 Illinois Robinson et al. 2000
8 39 Minnesota, North Dakota M. Winter and D. H. Johnson, unpubl. data
8 74 Ontario Peck and James 1987
9 62 Iowa Patterson 1994, Patterson and Best 1996
21 28 Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota L. D. Igl and D. H. Johnson, unpubl. data
22 18 Kansas Hill 1976
26 58 North Dakota Koford et al. 2000
27 48 Manitoba Davis 1994, Davis and Sealy 2000
30 40 Manitoba De Smet 1992
34 61 Kansas Jensen 1999
50 18 Kansas Elliott 1978
58 12 Kansas Klute 1994, Klute et al. 1997
Baird's sparrow
(Ammodramus bairdii)
0 11 Saskatchewan Maher 1973
3 11 North Dakota Granfors et al. 2001
15 13 Manitoba De Smet and Conrad 1991
16 68 Manitoba De Smet 1992
21 138 Saskatchewan S. K. Davis, personal communication
36 76 Manitoba Davis and Sealy 1998
Henslow's sparrow
(Ammodramus henslowii)
5 59 Missouri Winter 1999
8 12 Ontario Peck and James 1987
8 24 Oklahoma Reinking et al. 2000
9 22 Oklahoma D. Reinking, Sutton Avian Research Center, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, personal communication in Winter 1999
Le Conte's sparrow
(Ammodramus leconteii)
2 51 Minnesota, North Dakota M. Winter and D. H. Johnson, unpublished data
29 14 Minnesota Peabody 1901
Nelson's sharp-tailed sparrow
(Ammodramus nelsoni)
1 record ---- Manitoba J. Lane in Hill 1968
McCown's longspur
(Calcarius mccownii)
0 74 Saskatchewan Maher 1973
67 3 North Dakota L. B. Bishop in Friedmann 1963
Chestnut-collared longspur
(Calcarius ornatus)
0 36 Saskatchewan Fairfield 1968
0 38 Saskatchewan Regina Museum of Natural History Nest Record Cards in Fairfield 1968
0 111 Saskatchewan Maher 1973
0 254 Alberta Hill and Gould 1997
3 71 North Dakota Granfors et al. 2001
4 23 Manitoba Harris 1944
4 27 Saskatchewan Smith and Smith 1966
8 26 Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota L. D. Igl and D. H. Johnson, unpublished data
12 26 Manitoba De Smet 1992
14 57 Manitoba Davis 1994, Davis and Sealy 2000
14 363 Saskatchewan S. K. Davis, personal communication
18 22 Saskatchewan Prairie Nest Records Scheme in Maher 1973
22 37 North Dakota R. E. Stewart in Friedmann et al. 1977
23 62 North Dakota Stewart 1975
Dickcissel3,4
(Spiza americana)
0 29 Illinois Robinson et al. 2000
1 22 Texas Fretwell et al. 1974
3 143 Texas Steigman 1993
8 12 Oklahoma Ely 1957
8 24 Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska Lowther 1977
9 241 Missouri Winter 1999
20 71 Kansas Schartz 1969
21 34 Iowa Frawley 1989
26 23 Kansas R. F. Johnston in Friedmann 1963
31 61 Oklahoma Overmire 1962
33 15 Oklahoma Wiens 1963
33 39 Iowa Patterson 1994, Patterson and Best 1996
50 28 Kansas Hill 1976
53 17 Nebraska Hergenrader 1962
56 124 Kansas Jensen 1999
60 186 Kansas Hughes 1996
65 23 Kansas Fleischer 1986
69 620 Kansas Zimmerman 1983
78 55 Kansas Zimmerman 1966
82 34 Kansas Klute 1994, Klute et al. 1997
91 65 Kansas Hatch 1983
95 19 Kansas Elliott 1978
Bobolink
(Dolichonyx oryzivorus)
0 20 Wisconsin Martin 1967
5 184 Ohio Hicks 1934
6 136 Ontario Peck and James 1987
11 36 North Dakota Granfors et al. 2001
11 315 Minnesota, North Dakota M. Winter and D. H. Johnson, unpublished data
20 41 Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota L. D. Igl and D. H. Johnson, unpublished data
25 12 North Dakota Koford et al. 2000
34 47 Minnesota Johnson and Temple 1990
Eastern meadowlark3,4
(Sturnella magna)
0 27 Ohio S. D. Hull, Ohio Division of Wildlife, Ashley, Ohio, personal communication
2 52 Quebec Terrill 1961
2 57 Illinois Robinson et al. 2000
2 370 Ontario Peck and James 1987
4 26 Ontario Ontario nest records in Friedmann et al. 1977
6 244 unspecified region Cornell nest records in Friedmann et al. 1977
10 47 Missouri Winter 1998
10 69 Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri Lowther 1977
16 38 Wisconsin Lanyon 1995
31 69 Kansas Jensen 1999
49 71 Kansas Granfors 1992
50 10 Kansas Fleischer 1986
50 14 Kansas Francq 1972
70 40 Kansas Elliott 1978
Western meadowlark4
(Sturnella neglecta)
7 29 Kansas Hill 1976
11 71 Minnesota, North Dakota M. Winter and D. H. Johnson, unpublished data
18 76 Minnesota Johnson and Temple 1990
19 43 Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota L. D. Igl and D. H. Johnson, unpublished data
20 20 Saskatchewan Prairie Nest Records Scheme in Maher 1973
22 41 Wisconsin Lanyon 1957
22 81 Saskatchewan S. K. Davis, personal communication
44 65 Manitoba Davis 1994, Davis and Sealy 2000
45 320 North Dakota Koford et al. 2000
46 24 Manitoba De Smet 1992
1 The following grassland bird species are not known victims of brown-headed cowbird brood parasitism: American bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus), northern harrier (Circus cyaneus), Swainson's hawk (Buteo swainsoni), lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus), mountain plover (Charadrius montanus), willet (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus), long billed curlew (Numenius americanus), marbled godwit (Limosa fedoa), burrowing owl (Speotyto cunicularia), short eared owl (Asio flammeus), and sedge wren (Cistothorus platensis).
2 Rothstein (1982) demonstrated that loggerhead shrikes ejected red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) and tri-colored blackbird (A. tricolor) eggs that were experimentally placed in shrike nests.
3 Occasionally abandons nests due to cowbird brood parasitism.
4 Peer et al. (2000) found that dickcissels ejected 11% of 9 artificial, cowbird-sized eggs; eastern meadowlarks ejected 36% of 14 artificial, cowbird-sized eggs; and western meadowlarks ejected 78% of a combination of 14 artificial, cowbird-sized eggs and four real cowbird eggs.

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