October 2009
Wim Kamphius


Dear Jeff and Alison,
Thank you for your informative and fun site. In October 2009, I went to Aruba on a business trip. Near the Marina Resort Hotel, I spotted this cowbird. Because I'm from Europe (The Netherlands), I am not familiar with cowbirds, and I wondered whether this would be a female Shiny Cowbird or Black-headed Cowbird. I understood that based on range, the Shiny Cowbird would be most likely, but in the field guide I used (Birds of the West Indies), this species seems to have a smaller bill than the bird I spotted and photographed. Could you help me out? Thank you in advance!

Best, Wim Kamphuis

Shiny Cowbird, photo by Wim Kamphius

Hi, Wim. Based on your photo, the bird appears to be a Shiny Cowbird. It may be a young male that hasn't reached full breeding plumage, given the apparent black area in the wings. The species is a relative newcomber to the island, first recorded on the island on 1997 and since have become a common breeding resident. Thanks for your photo and your question.

Good (Aruba) birding,

Jeff and AllisonWells