The brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) is a small, obligate brood parasitic icterid native to temperate and subtropical North America. It is a permanent resident in the southern parts of its range; northern birds migrate to the southern United States and Mexico in winter, returning to their summer habitat around March or April.
The species lives in open or semiopen country, and often travels in flocks, sometimes mixed with red-winged blackbirds (particularly in spring) and bobolinks (particularly in fall), as well as common grackles or European starlings. These birds forage on the ground, often following grazing animals such as horses and cattle to catch insects stirred up by the larger animals. They mainly eat seeds and insects.