Spotted! The Different Types of Black Birds

When it comes to black birds then let’s face to…there’s no shortage of them about!

These feathered friends are frequently found in yards across North America, Europe, and beyond.

With their distinctive calls and curious ways, it’s no surprise why this bird is fascinating to watch.

You may spot black birds in gardens, parks, and meadows all year round.

But how many different types of black birds are there and do their feathers always match their name or differ in color?

Different Types of Blackbirds

There are 20 different types of blackbirds out there.

From the common black bird to the red-winged blackbird, there are plenty of different ones about.

From blackbirds to black colored birds don’t let their similar-looking appearance fool you, as chances are if you look closely, you’ll spot the difference between the common black bird and the boat-tailed grackle.

Read on to find out all about your favorite black-feathered yard visitors.

Common Blackbird

This true thrush species is a member of the Turdidae family and has the scientific name Turdus merula.

Throughout North America, it’s known as the Eurasian blackbird, this name’s there to distinguish it from other new world black birds.

Chances are you won’t have to travel very far to find one, as they’re frequent visitors to yards across North America, Europe, Asiatic Russia, North Africa, and even in parts of New Zealand and Australia.

They’re known for their shrill, rising squee sound, 

Interesting fact alert: the male species is all black, apart from a yellow eye-ring and bill.

The female is dark brown with a paler underside – she also doesn’t have the same vibrant yellow eye-ring or bill as the male.

Red-Winged Blackbird

This passerine bird is a member of the Icteridae family and has the scientific name Agelaius phoeniceus.

Small but stocky, the males are easy to spot as they have glossy black plumage with striking red and yellow shoulder badges.

The females are light brown with plenty of streaking.

The males love attention and will go out of their way to get it. From calling out their distinguishable conk-la-ree song, to flapping their wings.

However, the female is far more subdued and spends her time looking for food and tending to her nest.

They don’t mind hanging out with other starlings and blackbirds, especially in winter when they gather in huge flocks and peck on grains together.

Boat-Tailed Grackle

This passerine bird is found in Southeastern America. It’s a member of the Icteridae family and has the scientific name Quiscalus major.

Found in saltwater marshes and inland waters, this bird communicates through a series of harsh jeebs, chatters, and squeaks.

The males have iridescent black plumage, a long keel-shaped tail, and a pale yellowish/brown iris.

The female is recognizable by her tawny brown colorings, and darker wings and tail.

They love to scavage for food – so if you’re in a seaside area check around eateries or food places and you’re likely to find some.

Great-Tailed Grackle

This bird is on the sociable side and is often found in noisy groups across North and South America.

This passerine bird is a member of the Icteridae family and has the scientific name Quiscalus mexicanus.

The males of this species are long-legged, flat-headed, slender, and have glossy blue-black plumage. Its tapered tail is as long as its body and forms a distinctive ‘V’ shape.

They love to join other birds in pecking for seeds on lawns. They’re also partial to gathering on telephone lines and watching the world go by below them.

The female is noticeably different from the male, as she has dark brown feathers, with a paler brown underside.

European Starling

This small-ish bird is boisterous, likes to be heard, and travels in large groups. They’re a member of the Sturnidae family and their scientific name is Sturnus vulgaris.

They’re quick little birds – when they’re not flying, they like to sit on telephone wires or high up in trees and make their presence known with a series of whirrs and whistles.

They first arrived in North America thanks to Shakespeare enthusiasts and here they flourished and thrived. They’re now one of the continent’s most common songbirds.

Small but stocky, the European starling has a short tail and a long, pointed bill.

They transform in color depending on the season – during the springtime, they’re a glossy shade of black with iridescent pinks, ambers, and greens.

American Crow

This large passerine bird is a member of the Corvidae family and has the scientific name Corvus brachyrhynchos.

This bird has iridescent black plumage and is common across North America.

They’re 40% tail – also, the males are larger than the females.

Known for their screeching caaw-caaw sound, they’re also known to mimic the sounds of other birds and animals.

Common Raven

This large black passerine bird is commonly found across the Northern Hemisphere.

A member of the Corvidae family, with the scientific name Corvus corax.

They’re all black – including their beaks, feathers, legs, and even their eyes.

Because of their gothic appearance, some regard them as bad omens – although being a talking bird means they symbolize insight and prophecy, which can of course be a good thing.

They don’t tend to gather in big groups – so you’ll often find them either scavaging for food in pairs or alone.

They’re known for their confident, inquisitive nature, and their recognizable strut. While in flight they’re elegant and have impressive gliding abilities.

Being around people doesn’t bother them, so you’ll likely to find them in towns, cities, and rural settlements as well as grasslands, evergreen forests, sagebrush, and sea coasts.

Other Types of Black-Colored Birds

There are other kinds of birds that are black

  • Crows.
  • Blackbirds.
  • Ravens.
  • Cowbirds.
  • Common Grackles.

The list goes on.

The most frequent visitor to yards across North America is the European starling.

Also, grackles are the most common.

Feisty-Feathered Friends

Blackbirds, grackles, and European starlings like their food – cheap birdseed mixes in particular…yum!

They aren’t afraid to peck at smaller birds and each other to get to it.

So, basically the way to these black-feathered birds is through their stomachs.

If you want to draw them into your yard then invest in some birdseed and sit back and watch the bird show.

Brown-Headed Cowbird

This small bird is a member of the Icteridae family and has the scientific name Molothrus ater.

The male is easily spotted as it’s a chunky black bird with a thick bill. Although they have brown colored heads, these appear black in ill-light.

This North American bird’s considered a menace, as they have a fondness for destroying songbirds’ eggs.

The females have a similar stocky build as the males but light brown plumage.

They prefer open habitats such as meadows and playing fields.

When their feeding time is over, they like to perch high up in the trees.

Grackles vs. Blackbirds: Are They The Same?

No, they’re different species of birds.

They have similarities though, so sometimes it’s easy to mistake them.

Grackles generally have longer tails.

While blackbirds have more moderately sized tails and beaks.

They both have different chirps and ways of behaving.

Where to Spot a Common Grackle?

The common grackle resides in North America – some stay all year round while others migrate to the south during the winter months.

Unlike other grackles species, both the male and females have black plumage, although the female’s slightly less glossy than the male.

What are The Black Birds in My Yard?

This is very much dependant on where you live.

Boat-tailed grackles prefer warmer climates, while birds such as the American crow and common raven stay in the north all year round.

Markings, plumage, size, and call all play a part in telling the cowbird apart from the grackle, and working out which black bird is visiting your yard.

Most commonly, especially if you live in North America, then it’s likely that the black bird in your yard is the European Starling.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the meaning behind having frequent blackbird visitors in your yard?

Don’t panic! Blackbirds have good symbolic meaning.

Yes, they have dark plumage but this doesn’t mean they represent bad things. Actually, their black colorings symbolize ‘pure potential.’

They’re linked to the moon’s dark vs light phase and symbolize a higher path of knowing.

2. When is seeing a blackbird considered good luck?

Don’t discount these birds just because they don’t have colorful feathers.

In fact, it’s believed to be good luck if they nest on your house.

3. How often do blackbirds lay eggs?

They lay on average 2 to 3 broods a year, although if the weather’s good they’ve been known to attempt 4.

4. What’s the difference between a crow and a raven?

Ravens are larger than crows.

Also, it’s rare to see ravens in large groups, while crows like being apart of a crowd.

5. What is a group of ravens known as?

Long considered a creepy, bad omen bringing bird ravens have the misfortune of having the group name ‘unkindness,’ or a ‘conspiracy,’ – spooky!

Oh, and for the record, you call a group of crows a ‘ murder,’ a name, thus given because of folklore and superstitions.

6. What’s the difference between a starling and a grackle?

In short, grackles have longer tails.

They also have different colored legs, bills, and eyes.

7. Are grackles aggressive?

They’re on the noisy side – especially when they hang out in large groups.

They’re known for being aggressive toward each other, especially when it comes to their nesting grounds.

Unlike many birds, the grackle doesn’t have a specific group name, so they’re just known by generic ones, such as ‘flock,’ and ‘pod.’

Types of Black Birds: An Overview

Don’t overlook black birds, as just because they don’t boast a rainbow of colors doesn’t mean they don’t have beautiful plumage, quirky ways, and curious natures. 

Even with their dark feathers they still brighten up yards, parks, and towns across North America and beyond.

These black colored birds come in many different shapes and sizes from the American crow to the brown-headed cowbird.

They also have their own unique calls and sounds. 

If you happen to see one pecking at the seeds in your garden, don’t rush to shoo it off. Instead, why not take some time out to watch these fascinating birds strut their stuff.

Julian Goldie - Owner of

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.