There are many birds that can be found across the world, but there is something very alluring about black birds.
Blackbirds can be mysterious and magical.
In this article you’ll learn the top 10 most common types of black birds, how to identify them and their names.
This ultimate list identifies black birds by color, size, dietary needs, habitats, and characteristics.
10 Different Types of Black Birds And How To Identify Them
1. European Starling
The European Starling, Latin name Sturnus vulgaris, lives in North America and were brought over from the British isles.
It also goes by the name of “Common Starling.”
It measures between 8 and 9 inches in length and weighs between 2 and 3.6 ounces.
These birds primarily eat seeds, nuts, fruits, and small insects, like caterpillars.
European Starlings are black and their feathers become with white speckles on the tips of their feathers during winter months.
Their beaks are vibrant, yellow in the summer and turn drab gray in the winter. These birds are known to make over 20 different vocal noises that mimic those of other birds.
2. Boat-Tailed Grackle
The Boat-Tailed Grackle, Latin name Quiscalus major, lives along the Gulf of Mexico, across Florida, and up the eastern coast of the United States.
It measures between 15 and 18 inches in length, and weighs just over 5 ounces.
These birds diet’s consists of nuts, seeds, and corn.
The males have glossy black feathers with a blue undertone, and the females have light brown chests with glossy black wings. Their eyes vary in color from dark brown to bright yellow. Their tails are long, broad, and v-shaped.
3. Brewer’s Blackbird
The Brewer’s Blackbird, Latin name Euphagus cyanocephalus, live across North America, but primarily live on the western side of the United States in warmer climates.
They measure up to 9 inches in length and weigh just over 2 ounces. These birds eat mostly seeds and insects, but will eat berries, too.
Brewer’s Blackbirds have long legs.
Males are round bodied, with rounded heads, wide beaks, and yellow eyes. Females, on the other hand, are light brown, with wide beaks and dark eyes.
4. Red-Winged Blackbird
The Red-Winged Blackbird, Latin name Agelaius phoeniceus, are native to North and Central America.
They grow up to 9 ½ inches in length and weigh approximately 3 ounces.
These birds feed on spiders and insects during their breeding season.
During other times of the year they will eat seeds and grains in addition to insects.
Male Red-Winged Blackbirds are glossy black with a red patch of feathers on their shoulders. The red patch is outlined with a white streak.
The females are brown, streaked with black and white feathers. They also have yellow coloring around their narrow beaks.
5. Yellow-Headed Blackbird
The Yellow-Headed Blackbird, Latin name Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus, live in the western and central United States from California to the Mississippi River.
Their diet consists of grains and seeds. They grow up to 4 inches tall and weigh a little more than 2 ounces.
The males have a black body with white streaks on their wings and a bright yellow head and chest.
The females have a brown body, brown head, and dull yellow head and chest.
6. Black-Billed Magpie
The Black-Billed Magpie, Latin name Pica hudsonia, lives in the western states of North America.
These birds can grow up to 24 inches in length and weighs about 6 ounces.
Their diet consists of insects, rodents, nuts, seeds, berries, and food left in the garbage by people.
These black magpies have white shoulders and chests. When they spread their wings you will see that the feathers have a beautiful blue sheen to them and their wings tips are white.
The Black-BIlled Magpie has long tail feathers that are shaped like a diamond.
7. American Crow
The American Crow, Latin name Pica hudsonia, live across most of the continental United States.
These large birds grow up to 21 inches tall and can weigh up to 1 ½ pounds. These birds will eat insects, other birds, frogs, rodents, as well as seeds.
These birds are all black with a slight sheen to their feathers.
When they fly they make more of a rowing motion rather than a flapping motion. Their beaks are black, broad, large, and powerful.
8. Common Raven
The Common Raven, Latin name Corvus corax, lives all across the Northern Hemisphere.
These birds can grow up to 26 inches and weigh up to 4 ½ pounds.
Their diet consists of meat from rodents, smaller birds, bird eggs, and roadkill. They will also eat grain and seeds if necessary.
The Common Raven is also an all black bird with a thick bill. It can be hard to distinguish the Common Raven from the American Crow.
One way to tell the difference is by looking for shaggy feathers around the raven’s neck. Also, Ravens are more likely to glide in the air rather than make rowing or flapping motions.
See Also: The Ultimate Guide to Beautiful Birds
9. Black Swift
The Black Swift, Latin name Cypseloides niger, is found in North America on the west coast from Canada, across the United States, and down through Mexico to Brazil.
They can grow up to 7 inches tall and weigh less than 2 ounces. They nest on cliffs and forage for insects.
These birds are brownish-black with white spots along their sides. Their wings are both curved and pointed, but their tail feathers look squared off. The Black Swift’s bill is small and their feet are tiny.
10. Swallow-Tailed Kite
The Swallow-Tailed Kite, Latin name Elanoides forficatus, lives in the southeast United States, Central America, and South America.
These Kites grow up to 27 inches tall, and weighs over 1 pound. They eat insects, small amphibians, birds and snakes.
These birds have slender bodies, long and pointed wings, and forked tail feathers.
Their heads, chests, and underbodies are white. Their backs and the tops of their wings are black.
The underneath of their wings is black with large white streaks, while their tails are all black.
How to Identify the Different Types of Black Birds
Even though most black bids are indeed black, there are ways to tell them apart based on their sizes, wing shapes, behaviors, color patterns, and habitats. Take a look below to see the comparisons of our 10 black birds.
Shapes and Sizes
Generally speaking, black birds tend to be larger sized birds, but many times they can be identified by their tail feathers. Below are the shapes of the tail feathers from the list of 10 birds above.
- European Starling: Dark feathers that are short and stubby
- Boat-Tailed Grackle: Long, dark tails that end in a V-shape
- Brewer’s Blackbird: Long, black tail balances round body shape
- Red-Winged Blackbird: Rounded black feathers with medium length
- Yellow-Headed Blackbird: Long, black tails
- Black-Billed Magpie: Very long, black tails with a bluish sheen
- American Crow: Short, black tail is either squared or rounded at the ends
- Common Raven: Long, black tails that are triangular in shape
- Black Swift: Long, broad black tails that are straight at the ends
- Swallow Tailed Kite: Wide forked black tails
- European Starling: These birds are social birds that travel together in large flocks
- Boat-Tailed Grackle: Colonize together near the coast with other Grackles
- Brewer’s Blackbird: Forage for food and will often mix their flocks with other species of birds
- Red-Winged Blackbird: Males will mate with multiple females; both males and females may become aggressive during the breeding season to protect their nests
- Yellow-Headed Blackbird: Extremely territorial birds who nest in marshes with water up to 4 feet deep
- Black-Billed Magpie: Will sometimes gather in flocks; have been known to hold a “funeral” if they find a Black-Billed Magpie dead by singing for up to 15 minutes before silently flying away
- American Crow: Social birds that are more likely to be found in large groups rather than alone
- Common Raven: Smart, playful birds that are considered to be loners when they aren’t breeding
- Black Swift: Non-territorial, peaceful birds
- Swallow Tailed Kite: Graceful, but predatory birds
- European Starling: Black feathers with some speckles, yellow around the beak
- Boat-Tailed Grackle: Glossy black feathers with blue undertones
- Brewer’s Blackbird: Long legs, rounded bodies, and rounded heads
- Red-Winged Blackbird: Black birds with red on the shoulder; some will have yellow or white lining the red spots on the shoulder
- Yellow-Headed Blackbird: Black bodied birds with bright yellow on the head and chest
- Black-BIlled Magpie: Black feathers with blue sheen and white tips
- American Crow: Large black birds with thick beaks and big feet
- Common Raven: Large black birds with shaggy feathers around the neck
- Black Swift: Brownish-black with spots along their sides.
- Swallow Tailed Kite: Black and white birds with long, forked tails
- European Starling: Live in non-mountainous, lowlands and need some tree coverage because they breed in the holes of trees
- Boat-Tailed Grackle: Most commonly found near water sources like rivers, lakes and streams that are also alongside farmland and other low land areas
- Brewer’s Blackbird: Stay near coastal waters and meadows
- Red-Winged Blackbird: Dwell in shrubby areas as well as the wetlands
- Yellow-Headed Blackbird: Live in or near wet, marshy areas
- Black-BIlled Magpie: Frequently found in open country with some trees, but can also be found in piney woods
- American Crow: Usually found in open areas, but will also frequent forests along rivers
- Common Raven: Live across the country in coastal areas, forests, grasslands, and wetlands
- Black Swift: Live on the sides of cliffs near waterfalls in the northwest United States
- Swallow Tailed Kite: Are commonly found in lowland areas with warmer climates
5 Interesting Facts About Black Birds
- Black bird males and black bird females never look alike. The males and females have different colors or color patterns.
- These birds are songbirds and can often be heard after the rain has stopped.
- The male will not help the female tend to the eggs; however, the male will assist the female in feeding the young.
- Blackbirds are adaptable to many habitats so they can be found in areas of the country that are not widely recognized as their primary habitat.
- The black bird’s primary predators are cats.
Is a Blackbird the same as a crow?
While crows are black in color, they are not considered to be part of the blackbird species. This is also true of ravens.
What do Blackbirds symbolize?
Blackbirds have a few different symbols including knowledge and intuition. They are also to be considered magical.
Knowledge – these birds are smart and learn quickly; they almost seem to have a sense of humor, too, so it makes sense that they represent knowledge.
Intuition – the blackbird as a symbol of intuition means that people who share this symbol rely on their gut feelings to make decisions.
Additionally, blackbirds can be serious and represent highly thoughtful people. People who share the blackbird as a totem are said to be highly authoritative and critical thinkers.
What are the black birds that look like crows?
Great-tailed Grackles are often confused with crows because they look similar in size and color; however, the Great-tailed Grackles are not in the same family as the crow.
How many different types of blackbirds are there?
There are five different types of blackbirds, including:
- Red-Winged Blackbird
- Rusty Blackbird
- Brewer’s Blackbird
- Yellow-headed Blackbird
- Tricolored Blackbird
What is the largest black bird?
Of the five blackbirds listed above, the largest is the red-winged Blackbird. It grows to 9 ½ inches in length and weighs 3 ounces.
The largest black bird on our list of The Ultimate Guide to Black Birds is the Common Raven. The Common Raven can grow up to 26 inches in length and can weigh over 4 pounds.
What black bird has a black beak?
The birds on our list of The Ultimate Guide to Black Birds includes the following six birds with completely black beaks (although there are a few who have beaks with black tips):
- Boat-tailed Grackle
- Brewer’s Blackbird
- Red-Winged Blackbird
- Black-Billed Magpie
- American Crow
- Black Swift