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Bird watching can be a great deal of fun because there are so many different species to find. That said, it can be good to break them into different categories so they’re easier to remember. Here’s a list of the different kinds of black birds that you can find in Virginia.
The American crow is likely what you think of when you think of a black bird. It’s a fairly large bird that often reaches 20 inches long and weighs more than a pound. It’s adaptable to many habitats, and you can find it anywhere in the United States, including Virginia, throughout the year. These birds will eat nearly anything, including scraps of human food, and they can even use tools.
The Baltimore oriole is an extremely popular bird and for a good reason. It has a black head and back, with a bright orange belly that you can see from quite a distance. Its wings are also black, with white wing bars, and the female looks similar, albeit with duller colors. Look for these birds in Virginia during the breeding season around the tops of trees near open woodlands and riverbanks.
The boat-tailed grackle gets its name from its large V-shaped tail that resembles a boat keel. The male has a black head and tail, with blue highlights around the midsection; the female is brown with black highlights on the wings and tail. They tend to stick to the saltwater coast of Virginia and are friendly toward humans.
The brown-headed cowbird is an interesting bird that you can find throughout the eastern and southern United States, including Virginia, at any time of the year. The male can look like a crow from a distance, especially in poor lighting, but it has a brown head, while the female is completely brown. Look for these birds in grasslands and prairies.
The common grackle is a bird that you can find throughout the year in the eastern and southern United States. It has a black body with an iridescent blue head that’s easy to see in bright light. The female looks similar but isn’t as shiny. Look for these birds anywhere you can find grain like corn, acorns, or fruits. However, they are not too picky and will also eat spiders, frogs, and even trash.
The European starling is a black bird with decorative plumage. During the summer, it has black coloring, but by winter, that will fade to brown highlights with white spots. It looks like a crow from a distance and is about the same size as a robin. You can find it throughout the United States and Canada. It first arrived in America in 1890, when a man released 100 of them into New York City Central Park because Shakespeare mentioned the bird in a play. These birds can easily push out native birds, making them an invasive species.
The male orchard oriole has a black head and back with rust-colored highlights on the belly and wings, while the female often has a yellow head and belly with brown wings. They prefer warm weather, but you can find them in Virginia during the breeding season, where they tend to make their nest along the edges of rivers, swamps, and lakeshores.
The red-winged blackbird is an attractive species. The males are almost entirely black, except for a patch of yellow and red on their shoulders. The females tend to be brown or gray with white streaks and a small yellow patch on the shoulder. There’s also yellow around the bill. You can find the red-winged blackbird all year throughout the United States, including Virginia, and they prefer wetlands and marshes.
From a distance, the rusty blackbird can look much like a crow during the summer months. However, closer inspection will show glossy iridescent feathers with hints of purple, blue, and green. Unlike the crow, the rusty blackbird also has yellow rings around the eyes, making it easier to identify. Females are a lighter brown color than males. These birds tend to mate in Canada through the summer but will fly south to Virginia during the winter months.
If you are looking for a black bird, it won’t be hard to find one, as you can see the American crow almost anywhere in the United States. The common grackle and European starling are also easy to find, while the other varieties can present a bit more of a challenge for the beginner birdwatcher. The Baltimore oriole can be an especially nice find.
Featured Image Credit: Agami Photo Agency, Shutterstock
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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