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7 Types of Black Birds in Rhode Island (With Pictures)

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brewers blackbird

Bird watching is great fun, and there are many varieties to see across the United States. Black birds are always a good choice, and many of those of the blackbird species are surprisingly colorful, despite their name, and sing interesting songs. If you live in Rhode Island and are looking for new species to search for, keep reading as we list several blackbirds that you can find in the state.

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The 7 Types of Black Birds in Rhode Island 

1. Baltimore Oriole

male baltimore oriole perched

Image Credit: Jay Gao, Shutterstock

  • Identifying Characteristics: Yellow body, black head
  • Viewable: Breeding season

Baltimore oriole is an extremely attractive bird that’s so colorful it’s hard to consider it a blackbird. It has a black head and back, a yellow belly, and yellow patches on the wings. The female is also attractive but has faded colors. Look for these birds near the tops of trees during the mating season in Rhode Island.


2. Brown-Headed Cowbird

Brown-Headed Cowbird on the ground

Image Credit: Bernell, Pixabay

  • Identifying Characteristics: Black body, brown head
  • Viewable: All year round

The brown-headed cowbird is an interesting variety that has a black body and beak paired with a brown head. The females have a plain brown body with slight streaking on the belly. You can find them all year long in Rhode Island, especially along woodland edges and in brushy thickets.


3. Common Grackle

common grackle on the rock

Image Credit: Jo Kleeb, Shutterstock

  • Identifying Characteristics: Iridescent blue head
  • Viewable: All year round

The common grackle is a large bird with a dark body and an iridescent blue head. They are quite loud, especially in large groups. They enjoy corn and rice and will look for fields where these plants grow. They will also visit the backyard feeder for seeds, but much of their diet consists of insects, spiders, frogs, and even mice.


4. European Starling

european starling perched

Image Credit: Andrei Prodan, Pixabay

  • Identifying Characteristics: Shiny iridescent plumage
  • Viewable: All year round

The European starling is an attractive blackbird with a short tail and long beak. It is black with a green and purple tint throughout the body during the summer months, but its plumage will change to brown with white spots in the winter months, making it a good find at any time of the year. It’s about the size of an American robin and is an invasive species that was released in New York City’s Central Park in 1890. Today, they are common in Rhode Island, and you can also find them in most other states, including Alaska.


5. Red-Winged Blackbird

red-winged blackbird

Image Credit: Meister199, Pixabay

  • Identifying Characteristics: Red-and-yellow patch on the shoulders
  • Viewable: All year round

The red-winged blackbird is a favorite of birdwatchers across the country. It has all dark plumage except for a small patch on its shoulder of red and yellow. The female will be brown or gray with white streaks and a bit of yellow on the shoulder and around the beak. Look for these birds in dense grass-like vegetation, which is where the females like to build their nests. The males will usually be close to defend their nest aggressively and even attack humans if they get too close.


6. Rusty Blackbird

female Rusty Blackbird on the ground

Image Credit: Paul Reeves Photography, Shutterstock

  • Identifying Characteristics: Glossy black
  • Viewable: Non-breeding

The male rusty blackbird has glossy black plumage, while non-breeding males will have a duller black color with plenty of brown throughout, giving it a rusty appearance. These birds used to be more common in Rhode Island, but their numbers have declined considerably. If you’re lucky, you’ll still be able to see one around pond edges and swamps.


7. Orchard Oriole

female Orchard Oriole in the tree

Image Credit: Danita Delimont, Shutterstock

  • Identifying Characteristics: Rust-colored belly
  • Viewable: Breeding

The male orchid oriole looks similar to the Baltimore oriole, but its belly is dark orange or rust colored instead of yellow, and the wings look a little messier. The females are yellow with white bars on the wings. Look for these birds along the edges of rivers and swamps during breeding seasons in Rhode Island.

eagle dividerTips for Encouraging Blackbirds to Visit Your Property

  • If the birds that you want to see aren’t visiting your feeder, try a different type. Many birds only like specific foods and blackbirds are no different. Also, since many blackbirds are large, they need a more secure feeder to eat comfortably.
  • Blackbirds are usually scavengers that will eat just about anything that you put out. They will often push out other species, and since they are so big, they can go through quite a bit of food, so you will need to refill the feeder frequently if you want them to return.
  • If the blackbirds are preventing your other songbirds from using this feeder, you might need to set up a second feeder. Fill up the new feeder with safflower seeds, as those tend to attract many colorful songbirds like cardinals and house finches and will be ignored by blackbirds. Other pests like squirrels might also avoid safflower seeds, giving the songbirds a bully-free zone to eat while the blackbirds can continue to eat at the original feeder.

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Final Thoughts

Several varieties of blackbirds are available for bird watching in Rhode Island. You will often find these birds anywhere there’s plenty of water, like along river beds and shorelines. It’s also easy to find them in large fields, where they like to feast on corn and other crops, and they are also common sights at the backyard feeder. While many of the varieties on this list are fun to watch, the Baltimore oriole and rusty oriole are among the most attractive but most difficult to spot in the wild. The red-winged blackbird is also popular among bird watchers, as is the European starling.


Featured Image Credit: 2009fotofriends, Shutterstock

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.

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