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16 Types of Black Birds in New Mexico (With Pictures)

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brewer's blackbird perching on rock

Blackbirds belong to the Icteridae family. In Europe, they are a part of the thrush family, but in North America, they are known as New World Blackbirds. Blackbirds are also popular as agricultural pests since they love to eat seeds and grains.

If you live in North America, you are lucky enough to coexist with 25 species of blackbirds. Of these, 18 are found in New Mexico, including cowbirds, meadowlarks, grackles, and orioles.

The state checklists recognize 15 of these blackbird species in New Mexico, while three species are regarded as rare. Not only that but three species are also considered near-threatened.

If you’re an avid birdwatcher, this guide consists of a comprehensive list of 16 must-watch blackbirds in New Mexico. So, let’s check them out!

hummingbird divider The 16 Types of Black Birds in New Mexico

1. Red-winged Blackbird

red-winged blackbird
Image Credit: Meister199, Pixabay
Scientific Name Agelaius phoeniceus
Weight 1.1–2.7 ounces
Wingspan 12.2–15.8 inches
Lifespan 2 years
Diet Mixed grain, seeds, and insects

Red-winged Blackbirds are one of the widespread birds in New Mexico in both summer and winter. These are easily identifiable birds with all-black bodies and distinctive reddish-orange patches on the wings. Females have a relatively dull color with brown streaks.

You’ll likely find these birds in marshes, meadows, and fields. They mostly spend their time sitting on telephone wires singing short melodies.

2. European Starling

european starling bird on a bench
Image Credit: GAIMARD, Pixabay
Scientific Name Sturnus vulgaris
Weight  2.1–3.4 ounces
Wingspan 12.2–15.8 inches
Lifespan Up to 15 years
Diet Insects, fruits, grains, and seeds

European Starlings are all-year bird species in New Mexico. These are non-native songbirds characterized by their iridescent blue, purple, and green tones.

European Starlings fly in large flocks, primarily over fields. People despise these birds because of their aggressive crop destructive nature. However, you may also see them perching on treetops.

The unique feature of these birds is their melodious singing. Their song includes whistles, warbles, and chatter. In fact, European Starlings can even imitate the callings of other birds and practice murmuration. This is when these birds fly in a flock of thousands and dance and swirl in the sky in winter.

3. Great-tailed Grackle

Great-Tailed Grackle on the grass
Image Credit: RBCKPICTURES, Pixabay
Scientific Name Quiscalus mexicanus
Weight  3.7–6.7 ounces
Wingspan 18.9–22.8 inches
Lifespan Up to 12.5 years
Diet Insects, fruits, small mammals, lizards, grains, and seeds

Great-tailed Grackles are the fourth most widely seen blackbirds in New Mexico. They are seen flying high up in trees and nesting there. This Grackle species is long and slender with tapered tails.

You can quickly identify males by their iridescent black bodies and yellow eyes. Whereas females also have long legs and more slender tails. They have dark brown upperparts with light brown underparts.

If you live near the agricultural and urban regions of New Mexico, you have a higher chance of having these birds in your backyard. The sounds of Great-tailed Grackles consist of shrieks, rattles, and whistles.

4. Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark Perched on a Fence Post
Image Credit: Kerry Hargrove, Shutterstock
Scientific Name Sturnella neglecta
Weight 3.1–4.1 ounces
Wingspan 16.1 inches
Lifespan 6–8 years
Diet Insects, grains, and seeds

Western Meadowlarks are native birds in New Mexico, seen in almost every season. One interesting fact about these birds is that they were selected as the state bird for almost six states in the US.

They typically live in grasslands and meadows. Their distinctive features include strikingly yellow bellies, melodic singing, and a black V-shaped band on the chest.

Western Meadowlarks have the same size as a Robin. Both males and females have white and brown upper bodies and bright yellow chests with a black “V” band. This band becomes gray in winter.

5. Brown-headed Cowbird

brown-headed cowbird
Image Credit: milesmoody, Pixabay
Scientific Name Molothrus ater
Weight 1.3–1.8 ounces
Wingspan 14.2 inches
Lifespan 15–17 years
Diet Insects, grass, weed seeds, eggs, and eggshells

Brown-headed Cowbirds are the life of the summer season in New Mexico. They are found flying all over the state from April to September, while some are natives throughout the year.

Male and female Brown-headed Cowbirds are quite different in appearance. The male has a  black body with a brown head and short tail. The female is more compact and grayish brown with slight streaks.

Look for Brown-headed Cowbirds in fields and grasslands. They are always foraging on the ground, waiting for grazing animals to leave some food.

You can also find these birds through their quick, high-pitched song that sounds like gurgles and whistles.

6. Bullock’s Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole
Image Credit: PublicDomainImages, Pixabay
Scientific Name Icterus bullockii
Weight 1.0–1.5 ounces
Wingspan 12.2 inches
Lifespan 3–6 years
Diet Insects, nectar, sugar water, jelly, and fruit

Bullock’s Orioles spend summer in New Mexico from April to September. But you may spot them all year.

The males are vibrant orange with black marks on their heads. Their wings are white and black. On the other hand, females and chicks are dull with gray upper bodies and yellow chests, tails, and heads.

To find Bullock’s Orioles, go to any open woodlands or parks in New Mexico and listen to a series of whistles and cheeps of these birds.

7. Brewer’s Blackbird

brewer’s blackbird on the ground
Image Credit: ArtTower, Pixabay
Scientific Name Euphagus cyanocephalus
Weight 1.8–3.0 ounces
Wingspan 14.6 inches
Lifespan 10–12 years
Diet Seeds, grains, and insects

Brewer’s Blackbirds are species you’re sure to find in New Mexico all year round. These resident birds live in different habitats, such as fields, marshes, grasslands, backyards, meadows, parks, and coasts.

These are medium-sized birds with males having distinctive black coats and purple shading on their heads. They also have a greenish coloring on their body. Conversely, females have plain brown bodies.

Listen to the short and shrill sounds to find Brewer’s Blackbirds in your nearest park or grassland. Some birds also give off “chuk” calls.

8. Yellow-headed Blackbird

Yellow-Headed Blackbird
Image Credit: Kenneth Rush, Shutterstock
Scientific Name Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
Weight 1.6–3.5 ounces
Wingspan 16.5–17.3 inches
Lifespan 10–12 years
Diet Seeds, grains, and insects

Yellow-headed Blackbirds are found all over New Mexico in both winter and summer. They inhabit Western and prairie wetlands, fields, and grasslands.

These are striking birds with shiny black bodies. Males are characterized by yellow chests and heads, with wings having white patches. Females are more toward brown instead of black with a dull yellow head.

If you’ve seen Red-winged Blackbirds, Yellow-headed ones are larger than them. Their sounds include a screeching buzz accompanied by musical notes.

9. Eastern Meadowlark

male Eastern Meadowlark perched
Image Credit: Gualberto Becerra, Shutterstock
Scientific Name Sturnella magna
Weight 3.2–5.3 ounces
Wingspan 13.8–15.8 inches
Lifespan 5–9 years
Diet Seeds, grains, and insects

Eastern Meadowlarks are near-threatened blackbird species in New Mexico. Thus, they are not frequently seen birds in the state but can be spotted throughout the year.

On the arrival of spring, Eastern Meadowlarks start singing in grasslands and prairies. They produce sweet, flute-like whistles you can hear clearly from far away. In fact, these birds can sing over 100 songs!

You can identify these songbirds with their medium-sized bodies. Both males and females have bright yellow underparts and pale brown upper parts with black markings. Look for the distinctive black band on their chest to spot them quickly.

10. Common Grackle

common grackle on the rock
Image Credit: Jo Kleeb, Shutterstock
Scientific Name Quiscalus quiscula
Weight 2.6–5.0 ounces
Wingspan 14.2–18.1 inches
Lifespan 5–9 years
Diet Seeds, mixed grains, corn, and garbage

Common Grackle is another near-threatened blackbird species in New Mexico. On the IUCN red list, their population has declined by 50% since the 1970s. These birds are mostly seen from April to October in the state, as it’s their breeding period.

If you’re lucky enough, you may even see them throughout the year. Compared to typical blackbirds, Common Grackles are taller and have longer tails with gorgeous iridescent bodies. Females are less glossy than their male counterparts.

To witness these birds, go to open woodlands, parks, fields, corn crops, and marshes. You can also listen to their squeaks, croaks, and whistles. They also gather in large, noisy groups and fly high in the sky.

11. Scott’s Oriole

Scott's oriole perched
Image Credit: AZ Outdoor Photography, Shutterstock
Scientific Name Icterus parisorum
Weight 1.1–1.4 ounces
Wingspan 12.6 inches
Lifespan 6–7 years
Diet Insects, nectar, sugar water, jelly, and fruits

Scott’s Orioles are most visible from March to October in New Mexico. They mostly fly and forage on high slopes situated in arid areas. You may also find them on yuccas.

Male Scott’s Orioles have a bright yellow underbody with a black head and upper body. On the other hand, females are pale yellow with a distinctive olive-brown upper body. You can also listen to their sweet whistles to instantly spot them.

12. Hooded Oriole

Hooded Oriole
Image Credit: PACO COMO, Shutterstock,
Scientific Name Icterus cucullatus
Weight 0.8 ounces
Wingspan 9.1–11.0 inches
Lifespan 6–7 years
Diet Insects, nectar, sugar water, jelly, and fruits

Like their siblings, Hooded Orioles are spotted in New Mexico between March and October. At the onset of winter, they migrate to the Southern areas. However, some Hooded Orioles have stopped doing so because many bird watchers leave sufficient food and water supply for them.

These birds live in dry open lands, particularly near palm trees. So, take your binoculars and look for a bright yellow or orange bird with a black upper body and throat. These are male Hooded Orioles.

Females and chicks are yellow with gray wings and have no black marks on their faces like males. Both males and females make different sounds. The male Hooded Oriole makes jumbled whistling sounds, while females make sharp and less complex calls.

13. Bronzed Cowbird

female Bronzed Cowbird perched
Image Credit: Stubblefield Photography, Shutterstock
Scientific Name Molothrus aeneus
Weight 2.3–2.6 ounces
Wingspan 13.0 inches
Lifespan 6 years
Diet Seeds, grains, and insects

Bronzed Cowbirds are not widespread birds in the state, but you can spot them all year. These are larger than other cowbird species, walking in pasture and open fields.

The males are black-colored with distinctive red eyes and glossy blue wings. Females, on the other hand, are brown in Western New Mexico and darker in Eastern areas. Like males, they have red eyes, while chicks have black eyes.

Listen to harsh jeeps, screams, and chattering calls of Bronzed Cowbirds to find them quickly.

14. Orchard Oriole

female Orchard Oriole in the tree
Image Credit: Danita Delimont, Shutterstock
Scientific Name Icterus spurius
Weight 0.6–1.0 ounces
Wingspan 9.8 inches
Lifespan 9–11 years
Diet Insects, spiders, nectar, and fruits

Orchard Orioles are rare and the smallest blackbird species in North America. In New Mexico, these birds arrive during summer and stay from April to October. They are mostly seen along riverbanks, farms, open shrublands, and backyards.

Male and female Orchard Orioles appear pretty differently. The females have greenish-yellow bodies with pale undersides and dark upper bodies. They also have dark wings with white wing bars. Comparatively, males have bold colors, blackheads and upper bodies, and reddish underbodies.

Listen to a series of jumbled whistles to spot an Orchard Oriole flying close to you.

15. Rusty Blackbird

female Rusty Blackbird on the ground
Image Credit: Paul Reeves Photography, Shutterstock
Scientific Name Euphagus carolinus
Weight 1.7–2.8 ounces
Wingspan 14.6 inches
Lifespan 9–11 years
Diet Insects, small fish, other birds, and seeds

Rusty Blackbirds are near-threatened species included in the IUCN’s red list. This is because their populations have declined by 99% over the past four decades. But you can spot them across New Mexico.

These birds mainly inhabit swamps, bogs, large ponds, and marshes. You can identify the male Rusty Blackbirds by their glossy black bodies in summer, which turn rusty brown in winter.

Females have brownish-gray bodies with rusty feathers, darker areas around the eyes, and light streaks above. You can also listen to their high-pitched whistles and creaks to know they are close by.

16. Baltimore Oriole

Image Credit: MillionPM, Pixabay
Scientific Name Icterus galbula
Weight 1.1–1.4 ounces
Wingspan 9.1–11.8 inches
Lifespan 11 years
Diet Insects, fruits, and crops

Baltimore Orioles are one of the rare blackbirds in New Mexico. They’re found high in open forests, woodlands, riverbanks, parks, and backyards. The residents of New Mexico symbolize these birds as “joys of spring.”

You can identify the males with their black and bright orange bodies. They also have white wing bars and black wings. Females, on the other hand, have yellow undersides with brownish-yellow uppersides. They also have yellow streaks on their heads with grayish-brown wings.

Listen to the melodious flute-like song by Baltimore Oriole to find these birds instantly. They also make sharp alarm and chattering sounds.

hummingbird divider

Final Thoughts

New Mexico hosts around 18 blackbird species, all of which delight our eyes and ears. Some of these birds are abundant, while the rest are rare.

Blackbirds in New Mexico belong to the family of songbirds, including bright-colored birds. These birds are not entirely black but have striking combinations of iridescent colors.

Whether you want to witness Red-headed Blackbirds or Brown-headed Cowbirds, remember the identification signs of each to make the most of your time!

See Also: 14 Types of Hummingbirds in New Mexico (With Pictures)

Featured Image Credit: K-nana, Shutterstock

About the Author Jeff Weishaupt

Jeff is a tech professional by day, writer, and amateur photographer by night. He's had the privilege of leading software teams for startups to the Fortune 100 over the past two decades. He currently works in the data privacy space. Jeff's amateur photography interests started in 2008 when he got his first DSLR camera, the Canon Rebel. Since then, he's taken tens of thousands of photos. His favorite handheld camera these days is his Google Pixel 6 XL. He loves taking photos of nature and his kids. In 2016, he bought his first drone, the Mavic Pro. Taking photos from the air is an amazing perspective, and he loves to take his drone while traveling.