The shiny cowbird (M. bonariensis), a brood parasite, has recently expanded its range from South America to Puerto Rico via the Lesser Antilles. This species is a host generalist and, on reaching Puerto Rico, encounteed avian species with no history of social parasitism. In mangrove habitat study areas, 42% of the resident non-raptorial land bird species were parasitized. Some species were heavily parasitized; e.g., yellow warbler (Dendroica petechia), 76% of nests parasitized black-whiskered vireo (Vireo altiloquus), 82%, Puerto Rican flycatcher (Myiarchus antillarum), 85%, yellow-shouldered blackbird (Agelaius xanthomus), 95%, troupial (Icterus icterus), 100%, black-cowled oriole (I. dominicensis), 100%. Others suffered low rates of parasitism (2-17% of nests examined); e.g., gray kingbird (Tyrannus dominicensis), red-legged thrush (Turdus plumbeus), bronze mannikin (Lonchura cucullata), northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos), greater antillean grackle (Quiscalus niger). Cowbird parasitism affected hosts by depressing nest success an average of 41% below non-parasitized nests and reducing host productivity. Parasitized host nests hatched 12% fewer eggs an fledged 67% fewer of their own chicks than non-parasitized pairs.
Additional Publication Details
Shiny cowbird parasitism in two avian communities in Puerto Rico