As the sun rises over Ontario, a symphony of black feathers takes flight.
From the majestic Red-winged Blackbird to the elusive Common Grackle, these mysterious birds have captivated birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts for centuries.
But with so many different types of black birds in the province, it can be difficult to tell them apart.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at 15 of the most common and interesting black birds found in Ontario, and explore their unique characteristics, habitats, and behaviors.
Types of Black Birds in Ontario
1. Scott’s Oriole
Scott’s Orioles were last seen in the Chesley area in 2020, making them an exceedingly uncommon and accidental species across Ontario.
A huge, very recognizable oriole, males of which are distinguished by their all-black upper bodies and vivid yellow bellies.
The females of this species have a lighter shade of yellow overall, with an olive-brown back.
Scott’s Orioles spend the summer in southern Mexico and the United States, where they overwinter.
They spend the whole year in Baja, California, and the southern part of Mexico.
Scott’s Orioles are found in dry regions on steeper terrain, where they may forage for nectar, insects, and fruit.
They start singing at daybreak and may usually be spotted perched atop yuccas.
Their song consists of a succession of charming whistles and is less disorganized than that of certain other species of the oriole.
Nests are typically five to seven feet from the ground and made of a woven basket of grass, cactus fibers, and yucca leaves.
They might have many broods every year.
Jelly, sugar water, and oranges will bring Scott’s Orioles to your lawn.
2. Red-winged Blackbird
In Ontario, the red-winged blackbird is among the most often seen blackbird species.
They stay here throughout the breeding season and are seen on 54% of summer checklists sent in by birders.
Though most leave the province for the winter, there is a small number (1%) that stay year-round.
Because of their distinctive reddish-orange wing spots, red-winged blackbirds may be easily recognized despite their otherwise all-black appearance.
Females are often less interesting than males, with their streaky brown coloration and lackluster appearance.
Red-winged Blackbirds winter in the lower 46 states and along the British Columbia coast.
Fly south for the wintertime from their breeding grounds across Canada and the northernmost United States.
Red-winged Blackbirds are common sights on telephone poles. Even though they thrive in marshes and wetlands, these birds will nest in dry regions.
During mating season, males are aggressive defenders of their territory and will fight anybody who comes too near to their nests.
During the colder months of the year, they congregate by the millions to roost.
In the summer season, red-winged blackbirds feast on insects, but in the winter, they switch to seeds.
They create a brief tune that stretches out towards the end in an “Okelee” style.
Red-winged Blackbirds often construct their nests low on the ground, hidden amongst thick foliage.
A platform will be erected from the stems and stalks of adjacent plants, and this will serve as the foundation for the nest.
The cup will be made from dirt and damp leaves, and the inside will be lined with dry, soft grass.
There is a 13-day incubation period followed by another two weeks of development time for the 2 to 4 eggs that are laid.
Spread a variety of grains and seeds on the ground within your garden to entice red-winged blackbirds.
They’ll also use big tube feeders or platform feeders for food.
Male Red-winged blackbirds will aggressively defend their area from rival males and mate with groups of up to 15 females.
3. Hooded Oriole
It was in 2010 when the final sighting of a Hooded Oriole, a species deemed incidental in Ontario, was recorded from Long Point National Wildlife Area.
Hooded Oriole males may have a variety of colors, from yellow to orange, with black on their backs and necks. Juveniles and females have more golden bodies and grayer wings.
Additionally, females lack the black facial marks seen in men.
Hooded Orioles build their hanging nests on the undersides of palm fronds in the southern United States.
Some migrate to Mexico for the winter, while others make Central America and the Gulf Coast their permanent home.
Because of the abundance of nectar feeders and fruit put out by birdwatchers, some Hooded Orioles have ceased making the long journey north from the southern United States.
They like open desert regions and may often be seen in close proximity to palm trees.
All across the place, whistles and warbles make up the guys’ song.
Male melodies are more intricate than female ones, yet both sexes produce piercing shrieks.
The Hooded Oriole’s nest is a hanging basket made of plant material and grass, and it is often located at a height of around 20 feet above the ground.
4. Eurasian Starling
The European Starling is a non-native bird that has successfully established itself in Ontario.
In the summer, they are included in 34% of checklists provided by birdwatchers in the province, while in the winter, they are included in 21% of checklists.
Non-native European starlings have rapidly become the most common bird species.
Stout and dazzling in coloration, these blackbirds are a rare sight.
The range of the European Starling extends over the whole of North America, with the exception of only the northernmost parts of Alaska and Canada.
Because of their aggressive nature and tendency to travel in big, loud groups, they are often seen as a nuisance.
They often congregate in large numbers in treetops or in the air over fields, making them easy to see.
Starlings dine on a wide variety of insects, such as earthworms, flies, beetles, spiders, and caterpillars.
In addition to grains and seeds, they also consume fruit such as sumac, Virginia Creeper, mulberries, blackberries, cherries, and holly berries.
The starling’s cries include whistles, warbles, and chatter; it can even imitate the sounds of other species of birds. Groups of them may be rather loud.
Starlings often construct their nests of pine needles, grass, and soft material in man-made structures or artificial nesting boxes.
They lay between three and six eggs, and it takes about a month for them to develop into chicks. About three weeks after that is when you may flee.
Suet, sunflower seeds, peanuts, and cracked corn are great ways to increase the number of European Starlings visiting your garden feeders.
Just before sunset, hundreds of European Starlings form a whirling, dancing mass in the sky.
This phenomenon, known as a “murmuration,” often occurs during the colder months of the year in their natural habitats.
5. Great-tailed Grackle
Great-tailed Grackles are a non-native species that were last seen in the Port Rowan area of Ontario in 2019.
The male Great-tailed Grackle is distinguished by his long, tapering tail.
The males of this species have a shiny black color with bright yellow eyes.
The females are similarly long-legged and lean, but their brown coloring varies from a dark brown on the back to a lighter brown on the underside, and their tails are much thinner.
In the Midwest and West, Great-tailed Grackles frequent human-dominated environments like cities and farms.
The diet of a Great-tailed Grackle consists of a variety of foods, including insects, seeds, grains, fruit, snails, and slugs.
They also occasionally consume nestlings, eggs, lizards, and small animals.
Great-tailed Grackles construct their twig, grass, and weed nests on the uppermost branches of trees.
The nest is lined with a layer of mud, then a layer of soft grass.
When food falls from bird feeders above, Great-tailed Grackles might come to your yard to strut their stuff.
On platform feeders or big hopper feeders, they’ll consume cracked maize, black oil sunflower seeds, and millet.
6. Common Grackle
Despite their precarious status, Common Grackles are among the province of Ontario’s second most often seen blackbird (47% of summer months checklists).
The breeding season runs from March to October, although there are always a few that stick around beyond; in fact, they show up on just 1% of winter season checklists.
Common Grackles are a species of blackbirds distinguished by their increased stature and length of the tail in comparison to other blackbirds and by their shiny, iridescent plumage.
Women’s bird species tend to be less shiny than men’s.
Common Grackles spend the winter in the southern United States, but they spend the spring and summer in their breeding grounds across the Midwest and Canada.
Their range extends from grassy parks and open fields to marshes and wooded fields and parks.
They are obnoxious when in large quantities and prefer maize among other crops. Additionally, they are a bothersome pest since they devour trash.
They may congregate by the millions, but their numbers have dropped by half since the 1970s, landing them on the red list of IUCN as “near threatened.”
An assortment of whistles, croaks, and squeaks issue out from their mouths.
Common grackles construct their intricate nests from twigs, grasses, and leaves and then position them at the tops of conifer trees close to bodies of water.
They usually lay anything from one to seven eggs, and it takes approximately two weeks for the eggs to hatch and 14 days for the young birds to be ready to fly.
Spreading a mixture of seed and grain on platform feeders or on the ground can entice Common Grackles to your garden.
During the winter, Common Grackles and other blackbird species may congregate by the millions for feeding and roosting.
7. Bullock’s Oriole
While Bullock’s Orioles are not native to Ontario, they were sighted in the Algoma area in the year 2021.
Male Bullock’s Orioles may be easily identified by their vivid orange plumage, white and black wing bars, and black head markings.
The grey backs and yellow tails, heads, and breasts of females and juveniles are less striking.
Bullock’s Orioles are migratory birds that spend the winter across Mexico but breed mostly in the western United States.
Bullock’s Orioles are often seen in open forests and parks, where they may be seen feeding on nectar, insects, and fruit. Putting out jelly, fruit, and sugar water might entice Bullock’s Orioles to your garden.
8. Brown-headed Cowbird
In Ontario, Brown-headed Cowbirds make up 19% of summertime checklists, making them the seventh most often seen blackbird in the province.
They come into the province to breed during the months of April and July. There are, however, some who choose to spend the winter around.
The male Brown-headed Cowbird is distinguished by his black body, brown head, and short tail. Smaller in stature and often a uniform gray-brown color with little striping, females are the most common form.
These birds in the western and northern United States and Canada move south for the winter, whereas those living in the southern and eastern United States and on the Pacific Coast stay year-round.
They are more common in open settings like pastures and meadows than they are in forests.
They lurk around grazing animals in the hopes of snatching a bite off the ground, a preferred method of foraging for them.
Their primary food source is insects, although they also consume weed seeds and grass.
Female cowbirds have their calcium needs met by eating egg shells and will visit your garden feeders.
Their short, watery song consists of a sequence of high-pitched gurgling and whistling noises.
They also engage in frequent brief communication.
This is because Brown-headed Cowbirds do not roost together. Many people find them annoying because they steal the nests of smaller songbirds and raise their young there.
If they take their egg, the host may become hostile, and the nest may be destroyed.
Have they been stupid or brave? It has been shown that these birds would use raptor nests to hatch their young.
9. Yellow-headed Blackbird
Although sightings of the Yellow-headed Blackbird in Ontario are uncommon, the species is considered to be present across the province and has been reported at various times of the year, especially in the south.
Male Yellow-headed Blackbirds also have white spots on their wings, making them a remarkable species.
The females are brown, not black, and their bright yellow crowns are more muted.
When compared to the Red-winged Blackbird, they are much bigger.
Typically seen nesting in the reeds of western and prairie marshes, Yellow-headed Blackbirds are a common summer sight.
During the summer, they mostly feed on insects found in the nearby meadows, marshes, and fields.
After the mating season ends, significant numbers of yellow-headed blackbirds go to the farms and agriculture of Mexico and the southwestern United States.
In the summer, Yellow-headed Blackbirds eat mostly insects, whereas, in the winter, they eat more grains and seeds.
The buzzing shriek at the conclusion of a couple more notes is instantly recognizable.
Yellow-headed blackbirds construct their intricately woven nests from long, damp stems that they place on cattails or reeds in the middle of a body of water.
It takes around two weeks for their three to five eggs to hatch and then another week or so for the chicks to fledge.
10. Baltimore Oriole
In Ontario, 25 % of summer season checklists include Baltimore Oriole sightings, and they are most common during the mating season.
Although you could be lucky enough to view one at any time of year, the months of May through August are prime times for seeing these beautiful creatures.
In eastern North America, the arrival of spring is heralded by the brilliant yellow of Baltimore Orioles.
Adult males are striking black and orange, having white wing bars.
The undersides and crowns of females are a bright yellow, while their wings and backs are a drab brown or grey.
They belong to the family of blackbirds and are around the appearance of a Robin but much thinner.
The breeding range of the Baltimore Orioles includes the central and eastern United States, as well as the southern United States border and the southern Canadian provinces.
The Baltimore Oriole leaves its summer home at the start of July to spend the winter in warmer climes, including the Caribbean, Florida, and Central America.
The Baltimore Oriole is a bird that frequents parkland and backyards in search of fruit and insects but may also be seen in open woods, along riverbanks, and at the margins of forests.
They eat a variety of insects, including crickets, beetles, snails, grasshoppers, and spiders. Crops, including bananas, mulberries, cherries, raspberries, and oranges, are vulnerable to harm, but they also help consume pest species.
To hear a Baltimore Oriole sing is to experience one of spring’s greatest pleasures.
They produce warning cries that are both acute and chattering.
Place oranges that have been sliced in half on a station feeder or dangle them from trees to entice Baltimore Orioles toward your garden. You may also use sugar water in oriole feeders.
To further entice them, grow some fruiting and nectar plants like trumpet vines, raspberries, and crab apples.
11. Brewer’s Blackbird
Brewer’s Blackbirds are rarely spotted in Ontario, but they are recognized as regularly occurring and have been spotted all year, mainly in the south of the province.
Brewer’s Blackbirds, generally medium-sized blackbirds, have glossy black feathers in the males having purple coloring on the forehead and a dark green iridescent hue on the body.
Brewer’s Blackbirds may be distinguished from other species of blackbirds by their distinctive head color.
The coloration of females is uniformly brown all around.
There are Brewer’s Blackbirds in every state in the United States, including southern Canada, with the exception of the Northeast.
Those that live in the western states do not migrate during the winter.
On the other hand, those who live in states and territories that are more northern and central tend to spend the winter in the southern United States and Mexico.
Eastern states are good places to look for them while they are migrating.
Brewer’s blackbirds may be found in a broad range of natural environments, from coastal areas to grasslands to forests to human-altered landscapes like parks and backyards.
Seeds, grains, and insects (and anything else they can discover) make up the bulk of their diet.
Brewer’s blackbirds construct their intricate nests from grass and sticks in trees or bushes.
The nest is first coated with mud to keep it all together, and then the cup is lined with smooth, dry grass.
Ground feeders filled with sunflower seeds and cracked corn can entice Brewer’s blackbirds to your garden.
12. Eastern Meadowlark
Even though the Eastern Meadowlark is indeed a near-threatened species, it spends the breeding season in Ontario and is found on 7% of summertime checklists.
Few are seen outside of the months of March through October in the southern part of the province; however, they are present year-round.
The brilliant yellow underside of an Eastern Meadowlark’s body contrasts with its light brown and black markings.
Across their chests, you’ll see a distinguishing black band.
The Eastern Meadowlark is a year-round resident of the eastern states of the United States and Canada.
The singing and displaying of the Eastern Meadowlark signals the arrival of spring in the Eastern United States, but sadly, this species is currently considered to be near-threatened.
Insects make up the majority of their diet, and you may see them scurrying about on the land in meadows and prairies.
In the winter, they congregate in masse in fields to forage for seeds.
Eastern Meadowlarks build their nests on the ground, and these intricate structures may have tunnels and roofs constructed of braided grasses.
During the summer mating season in Ontario, bobolinks are often seen and featured on 6% of summer checklists.
The ideal time to see them is from May through September; however, their arrival begins in April and continues for some until January.
Male Bobolinks in breeding plumage are easily distinguished by their conspicuous light yellow color streak at their back heads that resembles hair and their white backs and black belly.
Males that don’t breed and females that don’t molt their feathers have quite distinct, more subdued winter plumages.
They have black eyeliner and a striped crown in addition to their brown coloring.
Bobolinks have a very long migration, covering about 12,000 miles from their wintering sites in interior southern South America towards their breeding areas, mostly in Canada and northern US states (20,000 km).
There have been sightings of them throughout the eastern states of the United States.
During the mating season, you may see Bobolinks on plain grassland; after breeding, they go to wetlands and coastal areas.
They frequently swoop down to the ground or sit atop plants in search of food to provide for their young.
The music of Bobolinks is a frenetic hodgepodge of discordant tones and tempos.
In addition, they engage in a number of brief “peeek” and “checkk” calls.
The breeding population of Bobolinks is now around 8 million; however, this is a considerable decrease from the 20 million that existed in 1966.
Mowing your green pastures and grasslands more often might be harmful, so wait until they’ve moved on before you do so.
14. Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlarks are rarely spotted in Ontario, but they are recognized as regularly occurring and can be seen mainly in the south of the province all year.
The Western Meadowlark is a family member of the blackbird and is roughly comparable to a Robin.
Its upper parts are a mixture of white and brown, and it has a black band in the form of a V that runs across its brilliant yellow breast.
In the winter, this band becomes grey.
Western Meadowlarks, which spend the summer breeding in Canada and the northern states of the United States, spend the winter in states farther south.
Those in the Midwest and west, on the other hand, stay throughout the year.
They may be seen searching for meals alone or with small groups, and they are not often found in deep forests or vegetation with a high density of shrubs.
They search for food on their own or in small groups, and they are seldom seen in forests or areas with extensive brush and shrubbery.
The diet of Western Meadowlarks consists of seeds and insects.
They primarily eat insects during summer and seeds and grain in winter.
Western Meadowlarks dig shallow depressions in the earth in meadows to raise their young.
This has a soft interior made of grasses and a roof made of plant stems and hair.
Western Meadowlarks entice your backyard with cracked corn and sunflower seeds.
15. Orchard Oriole
Orchard Orioles appear in 3% of summer checklists in Ontario and can be spotted during the breeding season, from mid-April to November, in the south of the province.
Female Orchard Orioles have a green-yellow upper body, a lighter underside, a darker back, dark wings, and white wing bars.
The males are visually distinct and have striking colors.
Their topsides and heads are black, while their bellies are bright crimson.
Breeding occurs in the eastern United States in the summer, and the birds then migrate toward Mexico and Central America for the winter.
Orchard Orioles are most often seen in open forests, although they are also common in open shrubland, along riverbanks, on farms, and in backyards.
Nests like pouches are hung from the ceiling by these birds.
Mostly insects, including caterpillars, ants, grasshoppers, beetles, and spiders, make up their diet.
They also like eating fruit like chokeberries and mulberries and drinking flower nectar.
For around three to four seconds, they create a chaotic succession of whistles.
Orchard oriole nests resemble shallow cups composed of long grasses hung from thin tree limbs.
It takes around two weeks for their three to six eggs to hatch.
Cut mango or oranges placed in hummingbird feeders or on platform feeders can entice Orchard Orioles to visit your garden.
Native berry plants, like chokeberries and mulberries, should also be planted.
Among North American blackbirds, the Orchard Oriole is the smallest.
Birds are crucial to an ecosystem’s ability to sustain its variety.
Birds play an important role in plant life by aiding in pollination and spreading seeds.
They may also prevent the spread of insects or rodents.
They play a crucial role in the web of life and the food chain. Larger creatures may be a major nuisance to birds at times.
Black birds in Ontario were the subject of our conversation.
Birds come in a wide variety, each with its own unique set of traits.
How many types of black birds can be found in Ontario?
There are several types of black birds that can be found in Ontario, but the exact number can vary depending on the time of year and migration patterns. The article focuses on 15 of the most common and interesting black birds found in the province.
Can you tell me the name of some of the black birds found in Ontario?
Some examples of black birds that can be found in Ontario include the Common Raven, Black-backed Woodpecker, Black-capped Chickadee, American Crow, and the Common Grackle.
Are all black birds in Ontario migratory?
Not all black birds in Ontario are migratory, Some black birds in Ontario are resident and can be found in the province throughout the year, whereas others migrate to different regions during different seasons.
Are black birds in Ontario dangerous?
Black birds in Ontario are not dangerous to humans. They are wild animals, so it is best to observe them from a safe distance and not to approach them too closely.
How can I tell the difference between different types of black birds?
To tell the difference between different types of black birds, you can look for unique characteristics such as size, shape, and coloration of their feathers, as well as their behavior, calls, and habitat. The article provides information on these characteristics to help you identify the different types of black birds found in Ontario.
How can I attract black birds to my backyard?
You can attract black birds to your backyard by providing food, water, and shelter. Offer a variety of birdseed, suet, and fruits. Also, provide a source of water, such as a birdbath or small pond. Offer nesting sites such as birdhouses, or natural nesting materials.
Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by Lily Aldrin