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15 Types of Black Birds in Massachusetts (With Pictures)

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red-winged blackbird

Massachusetts is a fantastic place for bird watching because you can find several varieties of colorful birds. It’s also a great place to visit if you like black birds, since you can find 15 of the 25 blackbird species in the United States here, five of which are quite rare. Keep reading as we provide this list of blackbirds that you can find in the Bay State.

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The 15 Types of Black Birds in Massachusetts

1. Baltimore Oriole

baltimore oriole
Image Credit: diapicard, Pixabay
Length: 6.7 inches to 7.5 inches
Wingspan: 9.1 inches to 11.8 inches

The Baltimore Oriole is one of North America’s more colorful blackbirds. It likes to search for food along riverbanks and forest edges and will often visit backyard feeders. It has a black head and back with a bright yellow belly, so it’s easy to see from a distance, and it likes to create a hanging nest from woven fibers.


2. Bobolink

Bobolink perched on fence
Image Credit: Derek Robertson, Shutterstock
Length: 5.9 inches to 8.3 inches
Wingspan: 10.6 inches

The Bobolink travels huge distances to mate and can travel more than 12,000 miles before taking a break. When it’s not traveling, they like to perch on top of a plant to look for seeds on the ground. You will see these birds in Massachusetts from May until November. However, their numbers are steeply declining, so you might not have much time left to find them.


3. Brewster’s Blackbird

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Length: 7.9 inches to 9.8 inches
Wingspan: 14.6 inches

Brewster’s Blackbird is a rare species in Massachusetts, but bird watchers have spotted it as recently as 2020, so you might get lucky if you go out looking. It has a glossy black coat, purple coloring on the head, and iridescent green feathers highlighting the body. It’s comfortable in various habitats and doesn’t mind being around humans, so you will often find them in parks and backyards.


4. Brown-Headed Cowbird

Brown-Headed Cowbird on the ground
Image Credit: Bernell, Pixabay
Length: 6.3 inches to 8.7 inches
Wingspan: 14.2 inches to 15 inches

The Brown-Headed Cowbird is easy to spot in the summer between March and July before it migrates for the winter. It’s about the size of a Robin and has a black body and brown head. It enjoys grasslands and fields where it can search for food on the ground, and they primarily eat grass and seed.


5. Bullock’s Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole
Image Credit: PublicDomainImages, Pixabay
Length: 6.7 inches to 7.5 inches
Wingspan: 12.2 inches

The Bullock’s Oriole is more common in the western United States, but bird watchers have spotted a few in Massachusetts. This bird is bright orange with a black cap and white wings with black markings. The females are dull gray with yellow heads, tails, and chests. These birds enjoy being around bodies of water where they can hunt for food.


6. Common Grackle

Common Grackle
Image Credit: Steve Byland, Shutterstock
Length: 11 inches to 13.5 inches
Wingspan: 14 inches to 18.1 inches

The Common Grackle is a black bird with an iridescent purplish-blue head and iridescent highlights all over the body. These birds form large groups and can get quite noisy, causing many people to label them a nuisance. They also frequently raid corn fields, searching for food, which can anger farmers.


7. Eastern Meadowlark

male Eastern Meadowlark perched
Image Credit: Gualberto Becerra, Shutterstock
Length: 7.5 inches to 10.2 inches
Wingspan: 13.8 inches to 15.8 inches

The Eastern Meadowlark is a near-threatened species with steeply declining numbers, so only a few birdwatchers will be lucky enough to spot one in Massachusetts. It has a bright yellow chin and belly with pale brown feathers over the back. It also has several black marks on its back and a distinctive black band across the chest. These birds like gathering in flocks and looking for food along riverbanks, grasslands, and prairies. They are also talented singers that can sing more than 100 songs.


8. European Starling

European starling
Image Credit: arjma, Shutterstock
Length: 7.9 inches to 9.1 inches
Wingspan: 12.2 inches to 15.8 inches

You can find the European Starling in Massachusetts all year long, and many bird watchers include them on their checklists. The black feathers have iridescent purple, green, and blue tones, and the body often has plenty of white spots. It’s an aggressive species that many people consider a pest, and they get together in large groups and can be noisy.


9. Great-Tailed Grackle

great-tailed grackle bird on the grass
Image Credit: Melinda Fawver, Shutterstock
Length: 15 inches to 18.1 inches
Wingspan: 18.9 inches to 22.8 inches

The Great-Tailed Grackle is a slender bird with a long tapered tail that gives it its name. The males are an iridescent black color with yellow eyes; the females are a dark brown color and have a narrow tail. Look for these birds high up in the trees, where they like to sing songs and hunt for food.


10. Orchard Oriole

Orchard oriole
Image Credit: JeffCaverly, Shutterstock
Length: 5.9 inches to 7.1 inches
Wingspan: 9.8 inches

The Orchard Oriole is rare in Massachusetts, but you might see one if you’re lucky. The best time to look is between May and August, but you may be able to spot it earlier or later in the season. The male has a black head and back with a rust-colored belly and rust highlights on the wings, while the female will have a greenish appearance with a yellow belly and rusty wing highlights. These birds like open woodlands and typically eat small insects like grasshoppers and ants but will occasionally visit a backyard feeder.


11. Red-Winged Blackbird

red-winged blackbird
Image Credit: kidmoses, Pixabay
Length: 6.7 inches to 9.1 inches
Wingspan: 12 inches to 16 inches

The Red-Winged Blackbird is easy to find across much of the United States, especially in the lower warmer states. It enjoys wet marsh areas and is extremely territorial. It will even attack humans who get too close to their nests.


12. Rusty Blackbird

female Rusty Blackbird on the ground
Image Credit: Paul Reeves Photography, Shutterstock
Length: 8.3 inches to 9.8 inches
Wingspan: 14.6 inches

The Rusty Blackbird is a vulnerable species that has lost much of its population over the last few decades. The males have dark glossy black feathers in the summer that fade to a rust color in winter, while the females are grayish brown with rust-colored highlights on the wings.


13. Shiny Cowbird

shiny cowbird perching on a twig
Image Credit: Fernando Calmon, Shutterstock
Length: 7 inches
Wingspan: 10 inches

The Shiny Cowbird is a rare species in Massachusetts, and it’s been about 20 years since anyone spotted one. It has glossy dark purple feathers, but it will look black from a distance. It’s a warm weather species that you usually find in South and Central America, and you can invite them to your backyard with fresh water and plenty of fruits and berries.


14. Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark Perched on a Fence Post
Image Credit: Kerry Hargrove, Shutterstock
Length: 6.3 inches to 10.2 inches
Wingspan: 16.1 inches

The Western Meadowlark has a bright yellow belly with black spots on the wings and a black V-shaped band across the chest. You will usually find these birds in grasslands, meadows, and fields, where they sing pleasant songs as they search for food.


15. Yellow-Headed Blackbird

Yellow-Headed Blackbird
Image Credit: Kenneth Rush, Shutterstock
Length: 8.3 inches to 10.2 inches
Wingspan: 16.5 inches to 17.3 inches

Yellow-Headed Blackbird is a rare species in Massachusetts, but local bird watchers spot these birds in multiple places every year. It has a dark black body with a bright yellow head that you can see from a considerable distance. The females typically have brown bodies with dull yellow heads.


More Blackbird Fun Facts

  • Blackbird males and females rarely look the same. The male is often more colorful so he can attract a female.
  • Most blackbirds are songbirds that are quick to sing after a rainstorm.
  • Since many blackbirds are intelligent, they often symbolize knowledge.

Conclusion

Massachusetts is a fantastic place to view black birds, with more than 10 easy-to-find blackbird species and a few rare varieties. The Red-Winged Blackbird and Baltimore Oriole are many birdwatchers’ favorites. However, the European starling and Common Grackle are also fun to watch while you’re waiting to spot one of the more elusive rare species.


Featured Image Credit: Meister199, Pixabay

About the Author Ed Malaker

Ed Malaker is a veteran writer who contributes to a wide range of blogs covering information on computer programming, pets, birding, tools, fitness, guitars, and optics. Outside of writing, Ed is often found working in the garden or performing DIY projects in the house. Ed is also a musician, spending his time composing music for independent films or helping people repair their guitars.