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GAP Analysis Predicted Distribution Map

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)

Species Code: MOAT

Click to enlarge Range map

= Core Habitat
= Marginal Habitat

Breeding Range Map
The green area shows the predicted habitats for breeding only. The habitats were identified using 1991 satellite imagery, Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA), other datasets and experts throughout the state, as part of the Washington Gap Analysis Project. Habitats used during non-breeding months and migratory rest-stops were not mapped.

Metadata (Data about data or how the map was made)

Click to enlarge distribution map

Map with Breeding Bird Atlas records

Other maps & Information:
  • Breeding Bird Atlas
  • NatureMapping observations
    during breeding season
  • NatureMapping observations
    throughout the year

Common in most habitats throughout the state, except large, mature, intact forest tracts. It is most abundant in lower-elevation forest zones where clearcutting and managed forests abound, and in riparian areas in eastern Washington.

Core areas were those below the Subalpine Fir zone (east side) and below the Silver Fir zone (west side). All habitats were good with the following exceptions: bare ground, high density development, and mid- to late seral conifer forests in wetter zones.

Washigton breeders represent the Great Basin subspecies M. a. artemisiae . The Brown-headed Cowbird has gained infamy among conservationists: because of its "hands-off" method of parenting, it has become one of the most important causes of decline in songbird numbers in North America. Since its arrival in western Washington (1958), Brown-headed Cowbird numbers have increased to an abundant level due to forest cutting practices (which creat more edge habitat, allowing cowbird access to host nests), and the presence of agricultural areas (which provide food). Formerly, extensive, intact forests protected songbirds from the Brown-headed Cowbird's parasitism. Now, warblers and vireos feeding cowbird young are common sights in our state.

Translated from the Washington Gap Analysis Bird Volume by Uchenna Bright
Text edited by Gussie Litwer
Webpage designed by Dave Lester