Birds with dull colored feathers can be easy to overlook. Several individuals believe these drably-colored birds have little to offer, so they eat them. Yet, among the various kinds of black birds, there is a great deal of smarts, cunning, and distinct characteristics.
Throughout North America, many black-feathered birds play an important role in ecosystems. Black birds serve a function in deserts, forests, and agricultural regions by controlling insect pests or salvaging roadkill. Their job may not be glamorous, but it is essential.
18 TYPES OF BLACK BIRDS
By reading further, you’ll learn more about the several dark-feathered friends that live in North America.
1. AMERICAN CROW
Scientific name: Corvus brachyrhynchos
Length: 17.5 in
Weight: 1 lb
Wingspan: 39 in
The American Crow, one of the most common birds in North America, has inspired myths, novels, and films. These birds are both huge and clever, so they can eat both meat and plants. To get food and drink, some people use tools. Several American Crows have been domesticated and tamed, and they adapt well to human civilization.
American crows of both sexes appear to be the same. They work together to feed their chicks as a couple and are a good example of that. Fruit and seeds, as well as fish, dog kibble, and garbage, are among the foods they consume. Crow couples that have been together for a long time often nest back at the same place year after year.
2. EUROPEAN STARLING
Scientific name: Sturnus vulgaris
Length: 8.5 in
Weight: 2.9 oz
Wingspan: 16 in
The European Starling was originally imported to the United States in the late 1800s by a guy who desired for all of Shakespeare’s plays to be represented in New York’s Central Park. What he couldn’t have imagined was that the European Starling would spread across North America so quickly. They can be found from Mexico to the Canadian tundra, and even further.
Iridescent black feathers with yellowish white dots cover European Starlings. During the mating season, males display their wings outstretched to attract females. To flee from predators, such as hawks, they travel in groups and create clustered formations.
3. COMMON RAVEN
Scientific name: Corvus corax
Length: 24 in
Weight: 2.6 lb
Wingspan: 53 in
The Common Raven, which is akin to a crow although bigger, is native to Mexico, the United States west of the Rockies, and almost all of Canada. They can glide for longer than crows can because their wings are narrower.
Ravens are very bright birds. They can be taught to mimic human speech, and they may use tools in the wild to reach food or water. They can be semi-domesticated and taught to do so on occasion. Parents work together to feed young and some mate for life. They eat everything from garbage to tiny mammals and berries, and are omnivores.
4. BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD
Scientific name: Molothrus ater
Length: 7.5 in
Weight: 1.5 oz
Wingspan: 12 in
Throughout the summer, the Brown-headed Cowbird may be found across North America, with populations along the east coast and Gulf coast remaining all year. Outside of human habitation, these omnivorous birds congregate in huge, clamorous flocks. Males don’t shy away from using retail complexes as a mating showplace!
Brown-headed Cowbirds do not give birth to their own offspring. They act as “brood parasites” instead. A female will sneakily deposit eggs in another bird’s abandoned nest after mating. The cowbird chick will be raised by the adoptive mother, who is generally smaller than the infant.
5. RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD
Scientific name: Agelaius phoeniceus
Length: 8.75 in
Weight: 1.8 oz
Wingspan: 13 in
The Red-winged Blackbird gets its name from the plumage of the male, and it is the most common blackbird in North America. Except for a little patch on the top covert feathers of his wings, he is entirely black all over, including his beak and eye. The hue of this area is bright orange-red. Brown and striped females exist as well.
These birds, along with cowbirds, grackles, and other species of blackbirds, are known for their incessant singing. They may be heard in huge multi-species groups. They are well recognized for lingering to reeds and cattails in marshes and swamps.
Scientific name: Dolichonyx oryzivorus
Length: 7 in
Weight: 1.5 oz
Wingspan: 11.5 in
The Bobolink is a brown, white, and black bird that can be found throughout the United States and is closely related to blackbirds and cowbirds. Until the breeding season, when the male molts into dark black feathers, both males and females are brown with dusky charcoal-colored wings.
The male Bobolink has a totally black belly and face from March to August. His wings and back are a combination of white and black, with a cream-colored nape.
In fallow fields, meadows, and well-irrigated fields, spot Bobolinks can be found. They prefer to travel in groups, and prefer to stay with their own species.
7. BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE
Scientific name: Pica hudsonia
Length: 19 in
Weight: 6 oz
Wingspan: 25 in
With their long blue-black tails, Black-billed Magpies are striking birds. Their bright colors makes them stand out among other birds. They’re sociable and like to go on adventures with one other.
The Black-billed Magpie is a loud and communicative bird that is both intelligent and curious. It’s found across Canada in the northern Rockies and plains. They’ve been spotted hanging around feedlots and farmland, among fence posts. Roadkill is also on the menu for these critters.
8. COMMON GRACKLE
Scientific name: Quiscalus quiscula
Length: 12 in
Weight: 4 oz
Wingspan: 17 in
These birds have flourished in response to human development and infrastructure. They’re omnivorous and will-forage on the ground for seeds, insects, and other invertebrates. Lawns and fields, for example, may serve as their cafeteria. They’ve been shown to be pests around bird feeders in the past.
Males have loud and obnoxious mating displays. In terms of size, they’re also bigger than most other North American blackbirds. The United States of America The Boat-tailed Grackle and Great-tailed Grackle are two additional species found in the area. The main difference between them is the length of their tails, which are all black.
9. BLACK SWIFT
Scientific name: Cypseloides niger
Length: 7.25 in
Weight: 1.6 oz
Wingspan: 18 in
This swift lives on the western coast of the United States, Canada, and Mexico, as well as a tiny area of the Rocky Mountains. It is the biggest of the swifts. Dark black swifts, both male and female, hunt for insects and spiders by performing intricate aerial acrobatics.
Wet places, such as seaside cliffs or waterfalls, are important for Black Swifts to create nests. They can only be found in the morning or evening, and they only eat while flying.
10. BLACK PHOEBE
Scientific name: Sayornis nigricans
Length: 7 in
Weight: 0.7 oz
Wingspan: 11 in
Western North America’s coast, particularly California and Mexico, is preferred by the Black Phoebe. These little flycatchers build mud nests that they attach to vertical structures, such as naturally occurring cliffs or more recently built bridges or even walls.
The underbelly of both sexes is white, and they are black. They like to perch in the open while they’re hunting for insects. These animals have been known to sit on rocks in the midst of rivers. Their thin, whistly call may be heard throughout the year if you reside in the southwest or along the California coast.
Scientific name: Phainopepla nitens
Length: 7.75 in
Weight: 0.84 oz
Wingspan: 11 in
From the Baja Peninsula and the California coast west, the Phainopepla is a common bird in the Southwest United States. Females are a dusky gray color, while males are a darker black.
Although males are considerably taller than females, both sexes have crests. A distinctive white patch on the outside section of the wings of male flies may be seen when they fly.
Phainopeplas prefer to feed on berries in forest or lowland areas, particularly when mistletoe is plentiful.
12. GROOVE-BILLED ANI
Scientific name: Crotophaga sulcirostris
Length: 13.5 in
Weight: 3 oz
Wingspan: 17 in
In the summer months, Groove-billed Anis may be found in the American Southwest, South Texas, and Gulf Coast. The cuckoo and these big-beaked black birds are cousins. Since their feathers have not been properly groomed, they often appear very fluffy or slightly out of sorts.
Sunning itself with its wings slightly ajar and draped over a tree limb it perches on, Groove-billed Anis have a tendency of doing. They also flail around in thickets, their wings swinging madly about. Their actions may seem ridiculous, but they are used to flush out tiny prey like lizards and flies.
13. AMERICAN REDSTART
Scientific name: Setophaga ruticilla
Length: 5.25 in
Weight: 0.29 oz
Wingspan: 7.75 in
The American Redstart is one of our list’s most vibrant black birds, combining white and orange patches with the bird’s head, chest, and back feathers. The orange and black tail of male American Redstarts is matched by black wings with an prominent orange stripe.
In order to attract its victim’s attention, the bird flutters its tail and wings. The bird’s quick reflexes help it capture the insect when it does so.
Look for nesting American Redstarts in most of the Eastern US. They temporarily stop west of western Utah, just before the Pacific Northwest and West Coast.
14. AMERICAN COOT
Scientific name: Fulica americana
Length: 15.5-16.9 in
Wingspan: 23 – 25 in
The entire black body of the American Coot is round and “chicken-like.” Their plumage is nearly identical to their dark red eye, however their white beak stands out. Coots don’t have webbed feet, so they’re not ducks. Instead, they use their lobed toes to swim and walk amongst water plants on the banks of lakes.
Coots may be found in ponds, lakes, swamps, and other freshwater wetlands. They prefer vegetated beaches with shallow water along the edge for wading when it comes to breeding.
15. BRONZED COWBIRD
Scientific name: Molothrus aeneus
Length: 7.9 in
Weight: 2.3-2.6 oz
Wingspan: 13 in
The somewhat bronze sheen on the feathers of this dark cowbird in sunlight gives it its name. Mature females are brown, but their eyes are red and they can be found in both sexes. They are likewise recognized to lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, much like their relatives the Brown-headed Cowbird.
Just entering the United States, the Bronze Cowbird is far less common. In areas such as Texas, Arizona, and Louisiana, it runs along the southern border. They can be found all year in Mexico and Central America.
16. BREWER’S BLACKBIRD
Scientific name: Euphagus cyanocephalus
Length: 7.9-9.8 in
Weight: 1.8-3.0 oz
Wingspan: 14.6 in
Western US common birds They’re frequently seen perched up in trees or on utility lines, either looking for food or waiting for someone to come. Males are extremely dark and frequently appear black in bright light, although iridescent blue, purple, and green may be seen.
These blackbirds nest in colonies of 100 or more and are very social, frequently seen in small groups. They’re frequently blended in with grackle flocks and have a similar coloration and light eye as grackles.
17. BLACK VULTURE
Scientific name: Coragyps atratus
Length: 23.6-26.8 in
Weight: 56.4-77.6 oz
Wingspan: 53.9-59.1 in
In the eastern United States, black vultures may be found. From South America to the bottom of the continent. They’re completely black, with a lighter gray underside to their wingtips. They may be observed in many localities with Turkey Vultures. In reality, Black vultures are less sensitive to smell than Turkey vultures and will often follow them in search of roadkill and other corpses.
Out of the two kinds of vultures, black vultures are known to be the more aggressive and may even take live prey on occasion.
18. BLACK OYSTERCATCHER
Scientific name: Haematopus bachmani
Length: 16.5-18.5 in
Weight: 17.6 – 24.7 oz
Along the rugged Pacific coast, you may find the Black Oystercatcher. Their black head and dark body are highlighted by their thick red beak and yellow eye with a red ring. Its blacker plumage is thought to be an evolved to blend in with the black rocks found along North America’s western coasts.
The rocks along the shoreline are used by black oystercatchers to construct a bowl-shaped nest, which they create by flicking stones with their beaks.