Cowbird Trapping Program

Cowbird trapping is a valuable management tool available to private landowners in Texas who enjoy bountiful songbird populations and wish to contribute positively to songbird diversity. Private landowners from approximately 50 counties participate in the cowbird trapping program each year. Cowbird populations are concentrated in certain habitats that are more typical of some regions than of others. Trappers follow strict protocols to protect other bird species and ensure that harvested cowbirds are humanely dispatched. Since the initiation of cowbird trapping programs in Texas, studies at specific sites have documented reductions in parasitism rates on Black-capped Vireo nests from over 90% in the 1980s to less than 10% before the turn of the century and remains below 10% today.

In 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service updated CFR 50 21.24 to allow cowbird trapping by private citizens without a federal permit as long as trapping is done to benefit a state Species of Greatest Conservation Need. Annual reports are required to be submitted directly to the Service by January 31st each year (report template below). All trappers are encouraged to review the trapping materials included below before getting started.