Optics Mag is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Read more.

14 Types of Black Birds in Nevada (With Pictures)

Last Updated on

european starling bird eating

One of the most common birds in Nevada is blackbirds. Ironically, while all the birds on our list are lumped under the “Blackbird” name, most are quite colorful. Also, most blackbirds in Nevada are New World Blackbirds, unlike their European Blackbirds cousins. There are 14 blackbird species in Nevada, including 11 that are classified as “regularly occurring” or common. One, however, is regarded as endangered while another two are vulnerable. 

One of the more fascinating aspects of blackbirds is that some species don’t create their own nests but, instead, lay their eggs in the nest of other species. The “step-birds” then raise the blackbird’s chicks as theirs, often to the detriment of their actual chicks. To learn more fascinating facts about Nevada’s different types of blackbirds, you can check our list below.

hummingbird divider

The 14 Types of Black Birds in Nevada

1. Bobolink

Image Credit: jasonjdking, Pixabay
Migratory: Yes
Makes a Nest: Yes
Regular in Nevada: No / Vulnerable

Although you won’t see them often, Bobolinks are still seen in Nevada even though their numbers have dropped precipitously in recent years. They migrate to Nevada from South America, traveling over 12,000 miles (20,000 kilometers) to stay from May to November. One unique and distinguishing factor about the Bobolink is that it has a tuft of yellow feathers on the male’s head that looks more like hair.

Their wings are black with white streaks, and their bodies are jet-black. Bobolinks make their nests on the ground, and during mating season, the male can be seen singing and flying in spectacular patterns to attract a female. Bird experts recommend mowing any grass you have only once a year after the Bobolinks have left for the season. Taller grass holds the insects they like and will attract them to your yard.

2. Brewer’s Blackbird

brewers blackbird
Image Credit: 2009fotofriends, Shutterstock
Migratory: No
Makes a Nest: Yes
Regular in Nevada: Yes

You’ll find Brewer’s Blackbirds all over Nevada in many different habitats. From meadows to marshlands, woodlands, and backyards, they are highly adaptable when making a home. Like several species, the male Brewer’s Blackbird is more colorful than the female, with a glossy, black coat with iridescent green coloring. Females are more of a plain brown color. The Brewer’s Blackbird’s song is short and shrill.

They eat seeds, grains, and a wide variety of insects, especially if the pickings are slim. If you’re trying to spot a Brewer’s Blackbird, the best time to do it is from April through October, but they stay in Nevada all year.

3. Bronzed Cowbird

Bronzed Cowbird on a broken tree branch
Image Credit: AndrewPatrick, Pexels
Migratory: Yes
Makes a Nest: No
Regular in Nevada: No

One of the best places to see a Bronzed Cowbird is on the ground in an open field or pasture. However, they will easily come to your backyard feeder if you put out seeds and grains and have grass where insects hide. The Bronzed Cowbird is one of the bigger blackbirds, and one of the distinguishing marks of the species is its striking red eyes.

You can easily spot the red eyes against their jet-black and dark blue plumage. Their song is more of a scream or chatter and is not known for its pleasant sound. Like some of the birds on our list, the Bronzed Cowbird raids another bird’s nest kicks out the existing eggs (if any), and lays its eggs to be raised by the other species.

4. Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-Headed Cowbird on the ground
Image Credit: Bernell, Pixabay
Migratory: Mostly No
Makes a Nest: No, takes over other nests
Regular in Nevada: Yes

The Brown-headed Cowbird, unfortunately, is considered a nuisance in Nevada, mainly because they are nest robbers. The bird seeks out smaller songbirds’ nest,  destroys their eggs, and lays its own in the nest. One reason they’re called “Cowbirds” is they like to forage on the ground near grazing cows, waiting for them to kick up seeds and insects. Their song has been compared to the sound of gurgling water and is very short. Males have brown heads with bluish-black bodies, while females are mostly brown with a small amount of grey streaking.

5. Bullock’s Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole
Image Credit: PublicDomainImages, Pixabay
Migratory: Yes
Makes a Nest: Yes
Regular in Nevada: Yes

The Bullock’s Oriole migrates from further south to Nevada during their breeding season, arriving in March and staying until November. Bullock’s Orioles like living in open woodlands and are often seen in public parks. They make one of the most elaborate nests of all the blackbirds on our list. Using grass, hair, wool, and other soft materials, they create a nest in the shape of a gourd, taking upwards of 2 weeks to finish.

Males have a stunning bright orange body with black and white wings. Females are colorful also, with orange heads and grayish bodies that, while less stunning, are still beautiful. One fascinating fact about the species is that, to attract them to your yard, you should use jelly, sugar water, or fruit, which they love.

6. European Starling

European Starling
Image Credit: GAIMARD, Pixabaay
Migratory: No
Makes a Nest: Yes
Regular in Nevada: Yes, although not native

The European Starling is considered a pest because they are aggressive and fly in massive flocks that make a lot of commotion. They eat various foods, from insects and spiders to many types of fruit, grains, and seeds. They are also one of the most common songbirds in Nevada, even though they are an introduced species. It can mimic the songs of other birds and make quite a few of its own. The female makes the nest from soft materials like grass and lays between three and six eggs, which are a relatively large number for the species. To attract European Starlings to your yard, fill a feeder with suet that contains seeds, corn, and peanuts.

7. Great-tailed Grackle

Great-Tailed Grackle on the grass
Image Credit: RBCKPICTURES, Pixabay
Migratory: No
Makes a Nest: Yes
Regular in Nevada: Yes

One of the defining traits of the Great-tailed Grackle (the male) is, not surprisingly, its great tail, which is long and tapered and hard to miss. However, females have slender tails and are dark brown on top and lighter brown on their chests. The male has a gorgeous, iridescent black color with brilliant yellow eyes. They are also more than double the weight and size of their female counterparts.

If given the opportunity, they will eat lizards, small mammals like mice, and the eggs and chicks of other birds. They make their nests very high up in trees from the usual materials like grass and twigs, and they line the interior with mud and grass.

8. Hooded Oriole

Hooded Oriole
Image Credit: PACO COMO, Shutterstock,
Migratory: Mostly No, thanks to bird-lovers feeding them.
Makes a Nest: Yes
Regular in Nevada: Yes

While they used to migrate to Mexico for winter, the Hooded Oriole is now a year-round Nevada resident thanks to bird-lovers leaving food out for them. Like the Bullock’s Oriole, the best way to attract the Hooded Oriole to your backyard is with jelly, orange slices, or sugar water.

They hang their nests under palm fronds high in the air using plant materials and grasses. Hooded Oriole males have black throats and backs with lovely orange bodies and necks, making them easy to spot. Females are more brown than orange and lack the males’ black necks. They tend to live in open areas that are dry and filled with palm trees and are easiest to spot from March through October.

9. Red-winged Blackbird

red winged blackbird
Image Credit: Ryan Panfil, Pixabay
Migratory: Mostly No
Makes a Nest: Yes, low to the ground
Regular in Nevada: Yes

One of the defining traits of the Red-winged Blackbird is that males will have multiple partners at the same time. They have been known to have up to 15 females and will vigorously defend them from other males. The Red-winged Blackbirds found in Nevada stay the entire year, roosting together by the millions. They are seen all over the state in summer and are simple to identify with their orange wing patches. To attract Red-winged Blackbirds to your yard, spread mixed grains and seeds on the ground or put them in platform feeders.

10. Rusty Blackbird

Rusty blackbird perched on a metal barrier
Image Credit: Pxhere
Migratory: Yes
Makes a Nest: Yes
Regular in Nevada: No / Vulnerable

Spotting a Rusty Blackbird in Nevada is difficult at best. They are considered a vulnerable species. Male Rusty Blackbirds have black and brown plumage that lends to their “rusty” name. During their breeding season, you’ll find Rusty Blackbirds in the boreal forest of Canada, where they make their home in swamps, large ponds, and marshland. In the last 40 years, unfortunately, their population has crashed, landing them on the ICUN red list for vulnerability.

The bird usually nests near water in shrubs and trees low to the ground. They use the typical twigs and grass but then place rotting, wet material inside, making a cup shape that dries out and hardens. The Rusty Blackbird is one of the few on our list that finds some of its food underwater. They eat insects and small fish, turning over leaves and other vegetation to find them. 

11. Scott’s Oriole

Scott's oriole perched
Image Credit: AZ Outdoor Photography, Shutterstock
Migratory: Yes
Makes a Nest: Yes
Regular in Nevada: Yes

Scott’s Orioles visit Nevada from March through September, after which they migrate further south. Some say they have a sweet song that is more structured than other blackbirds and Orioles. To spot them, look for their bright orange underbelly, jet black head, and long, black beak. The Scott’s Oriole makes its nest close to the ground but not on the ground, using yucca leaves, cactus fivers, and grasses to build it.

They also are one of the most prolific breeders, sometimes having two or three broods in one mating season. They feed primarily on insects, although they supplement their diet with fruits and nectar. On occasion, they will eat monarch butterflies, which are toxic. They can somehow find the butterflies with less toxicity.

12. Tricolored Blackbird

tricolored blackbird perching
Image credit: PublicDomainImages, Pixabay
Migratory: Yes
Makes a Nest: Yes
Regular in Nevada: No / Endangered

Although they once numbered in the millions, fewer than 30,000 breeding Tricolored Blackbirds live in Nevada today. For that reason, they are very rarely spotted in the state and are on the endangered species list. Like the Red-winged Blackbird, Tricolored Blackbird males have a patch of red on their shoulders with a white line underneath.

Females, not surprisingly, are less colorful and more brown-ish than males. Tricolored Blackbirds eat insects and seeds and prefer wet, grassland areas. Ironically, while the Tricolored Blackbird is endangered in Nevada, they form some of the largest bird colonies in North America. 

13. Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark Perched on a Fence Post
Image Credit: Kerry Hargrove, Shutterstock
Migratory: No
Makes a Nest: Yes
Regular in Nevada: Yes

Another blackbird you’ll find in Nevada is the Western Meadowlark, and when you do, you’ll be pretty happy about it. That’s because the species is beautiful, brightly colored, and has a beautiful song. Unlike some species, the Western Meadowlark hunts alone or in small flocks. They live in open fields, grasslands, and meadows and eat seeds and various insects.

Western Meadowlarks build their nest on the ground in an indentation covered by taller grass. One distinguishing mark they have is a black band across their yellow-orange chest in the shape of a “V.” Interestingly, the V turns gray in winter.

14. Yellow-headed Blackbird

Yellow-Headed Blackbird
Image Credit: Kenneth Rush, Shutterstock
Migratory: Mostly No
Makes a Nest: Yes
Regular in Nevada: Yes

As one of the most attractive blackbird species in Nevada, the male Yellow-headed Blackbird has an exquisite yellow head and chest and a jet-black, glossy body. Females are less colorful with brown bodies but still have yellow heads and chests. One way to differentiate them besides color is the Yellow-headed Blackbird’s song, which usually ends in a screechy buzzing noise. In the summer, the bird eats insects, which it finds by turning over small rocks and stones. To attract the gorgeous birds to your yard, spread sunflower seeds or put some in a hanging feeder.

hummingbird divider Three More Rare Blackbird Species in Nevada

We didn’t include these Blackbirds on our main list since they are rare in Nevada. That means if you see them, it’s more of a fluke than a common occurrence. That said, it’s not impossible to spot them in the Sagebrush State if you look hard enough. They include:

  • Baltimore Orioles
  • Common Grackles
  • Orchard Orioles
Yellow-headed Blackbird male (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)
Image credit: Don Mammoser, Shutterstock

The Best Methods to Attract Blackbirds to your Backyard

Most of the birds on today’s list will gladly visit your backyard if you provide them with food they like and several other amenities, including:

  • A fresh water source, which in Nevada is critical
  • Hanging feeders with suet, corn, peanuts, and seeds
  • Spreading seeds and grains on the ground for ground-feeding Blackbirds
  • Planting small fruit trees and bushes including cherries, plums, blackberries
  • A relatively unkempt area of leaves and grasses where insects will be available to munch on

hummingbird divider Summing Up

Many of the Blackbirds on our list are gorgeous birds with lovely calls, but some are rather rude to their bird neighbors and can make a racket in large flocks. Most of the birds are all over the state, while others are more scarce. All of them, however, are part of Nevada’s ecosystem and worth protecting. Best of luck getting a long glimpse of the beautiful, interesting, and expressive birds!

See also:

Featured Image Credit: JCLeroi, Pixabay

About the Author Greg Iacono

Greg Iacono is a self-taught writer and former chiropractor who, ironically, retired early due to back problems. He now spends his time writing scintillating content on a wide variety of subjects. Greg is also a well-known video script writer known for his ability to take a complex subject and make it accessible for the layperson.