MOLOTHRUS

(Icteridae; Ϯ Brown-headed Cowbird M. ater) Unattested Gr. μολοθρος molothros  uninvited guest (Merriam 1884): alluding to the parasitic habits of the Brown-headed Cowbird; "[85.]  1. MOLOTHRUS PECORIS. (Swainson.)  Cowpen or Cuckoo-Bunt.   SUB-FAMILY, Agelainae.  Genus, Molothrus *, SWAINS.  Cowpen Finch. PENN. Arct. Zool., ii, p. 371, No. 241.  Cow Bunting (Emberiza pecoris). WILS., ii., p. 145, pl. 18, ff. 1, 2, and 3.  Fringilla pecoris. SAB. Frankl. Journ., p. 676.  Agelaius pecoris. SWAINS. Syn., No. 55.  Icterus pecoris. BONAP. Syn., p. 53, No. 53.  ...  FORM, typical.  Bill short, conic, Finch-like; the culmen or ridge is convex and very slightly arched, the tip not depressed, and both mandibles entire. Wings long, pointed; the first quill generally longest, the second very nearly equal; lesser quills truncate and slightly emarginate. Tail slightly forked in the middle; but its sides rounded (as in the Ceblepyrinæ), reaching an inch and a quarter beyond the wings. Tarsi lengthened; claws slender; anterior lateral toes equal.   ...  *Mολοθρος, qui non vocatus alienas ædes intrat." (Swainson 1831) (cf. Gr. μωλος mōlos  struggle, battle; θρωσκω thrōskō  to sire, to impregnate); "MOLOTHRUS Sws. 1831.  ...  Die Etymologie des Gattungsnamens ist nicht recht klar. Die Ableitung von μωλος, im Sinne von moles für Gebäude (Nest) und etwa θρωσκωθορειν, springen, eilen, schleunig eintreten, wäre etwas sehr gesucht. Swainson giebt an "μολοθρος, qui non vocatus alienas aedes intrat" vielleicht soll es heissen μολοβρος, ein Schmarotzer, einer der bei andern zu fressen sucht, mit Bezug auf die Eigenthümlichkeit der Erziehung der Jungen durch an die Vögel; es würde der Name dann richtiger Molobrus zu schreiben sein" (Cabanis 1853); “Swainson wrote molothrus more than once, showing it not to be a misprint or other mistake” (Coues 1882).
Var. Molobrus (Gr. μολοβρος molobros beggar, parasite), Molothru, Mothrus.
Synon. Callothrus, Cyanothrus, Cyrtotes, Hypobletis, Pecoris, Psomocolax, Scaphidura, Strepitovagus, Tangavius.

Search for more names on the Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology by James A. Jobling.
Recommended citation
Jobling, J. A. (2018). Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology. In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2018). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from www.hbw.com on 15 December 2018).