Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by Lily Aldrin
Imagine stepping outside on a crisp, sunny morning and hearing the sweet chorus of birdsong filling the air.
As you look up, you notice a stunning black bird with a striking white belly swooping through the sky.
The contrast between its dark feathers and snowy underbelly catches your eye, leaving you in awe.
But did you know that there are not just one, but 15 different types of black birds boasting this unique feature?
Get ready to dive into the mesmerizing world of these monochrome marvels, as we unravel the mysteries of the 15 fascinating black birds with white bellies waiting to captivate your heart and imagination.
|Great Black-backed Gull|
Types of Black Birds with White Bellies
1. Dark-eyed Junco
New World sparrows, like the dark-eyed junco, are little but beautiful birds with distinctive dark eyes.
About 15 distinct subspecies have been identified, all of which provide comparable difficulties for taxonomists.
The dark-eyed junco is distinguished by its rounded head, small beak, and relatively long tail.
Their beaks, heads, and necks are all black, while their legs and belly are white.
Common habitats for dark-eyed juncos in North America include forests, fields with dense vegetation, thickets, and parks.
Male dark-eyed juncos produce a powerful melodic trill that may last for a maximum of two seconds and include anything from ten to twenty notes.
Each sex has its own unique whistles, trills, and warbles that make up a softer song.
Sounds like a “chip” or “tick” are heard in their calls.
They hop and gallop about the ground and may even use their feet to claw at the dirt or snow in search of food.
The snowbird moniker was given to the dark-eyed junco due to the bird’s widespread wintertime appearance.
In the summer months, they supplement their diet of seeds with a few insects.
2. Ring-necked Duck
This species of tiny diving duck is native to North America, where it may be found in and near bodies of freshwater such as lakes and ponds.
Like its European cousins, the tufted duck, ring-necked ducks have a rounded bill and a peaked head.
The male ring-necked duck is striking black, having a white belly and breast, gray white flanks, and bright yellow eyes.
Grayish-brown in color, females possess white spots on their beaks and white eyerings; both sexes possess white stripes on their grayish bills.
A ring-necked duck’s vocal repertoire includes a variety of brief grunts, barks, and loud “peeping” cries.
The forested lakes and ponds in the Arctic regions of North America are home to the breeding grounds for these black and white ducks.
They only breed during the summer, when they form monogamous pairs, construct bowl-shaped nests above the water among thick foliage, and deposit between eight and ten eggs.
After that, they go south to spend the winter in the lakes, ponds, rivers, and bays of the southeastern region of North America.
Dabbling or diving to get food, ring-necked ducks have a varied diet that includes both plants and animals.
3. Black-billed Magpie
The western North American population of black-billed magpies consists of huge, easily recognizable birds.
Also called American magpies, these birds are frequently seen perched on wooden posts and road signs or flitting through grasslands.
A black-billed magpie’s breast, head, tail, and back are all black, but its white wings and belly and glossy blue-green spots on its tail and wings make it easy to spot.
They possess long, bright greenish tails, as the name indicates, and strong, gently rounded black beaks.
Black-billed magpies have a keen sense of smell, which is unusual for a bird.
They eat just about everything, including eggs, carrion, insects, rodents, and the juvenile of other birds.
Social and loud, black-billed magpies often congregate in groups of 6 to 10 birds.
Keep an ear out for their distinctive “kaa-kaa-kaa” warning cry as well as other sounds such as purrs, coos, tweets, shrills, and squawks.
Their so-called “funeral” behavior is particularly fascinating.
Magpies will alert their flock mates when one of their own finds a dead magpie.
Magpies in flocks of 40 or more often congregate about a dead body for ten to fifteen minutes before quietly taking off again.
They are monogamous for life and may take approximately 30 to 40 days to build a nest.
Black-billed magpies are common among livestock and may be spotted cleaning ticks off the backs of moose and deer.
In addition to the various birds spotted across Colorado, the state is also home to the blackbird, which is distinguished by its white underbelly.
4. Black Phoebe
Small, black-and-white flycatchers known as black phoebes have white under tail coverts and a white belly.
Notice how they dip their tails and spread their feathers out in a telltale “wagging” action.
The sexes share physical traits and sing the same “teee-heee, tee-ho” refrain.
Black phoebes are tiny birds with a weight and wing span of about an ounce and half an inch, respectively.
They breed from the southwestern corner of Oregon and California toward the southern tip of Central and South America, so you may find them all throughout the western United States.
They like to hang out in the countryside and urban parks, but you may also find them in the open near water.
Carnivorous in nature, black phoebes mostly consume insects but may also eat fish if given a chance.
Cup-shaped nests made of mud are often seen in sheltered areas up against ledges, eaves, and even bridges.
5. Spotted Towhee
Western North America is home to a plethora of these impressive sparrows, distinguished by their huge size, bold appearance, and lengthy tails.
While they spend the summers in the Pacific Northwest and states like Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Utah, and California, they spend the winters in the southern United States and northern Mexico, where they reproduce.
These birds may be found across brushy fields, chaparrals, open woodlands, and dry highland forests.
Spotted towhees may be identified by their rufous undersides, white stomachs, and black rump with white dots.
They possess pink legs and crimson eyes.
Males and females look the same; however, the latter has a dark gray and brown coloration rather than black.
Among the wild, spotted towhees often build their nests mostly on the ground or quite low in shrubs.
They frequently leap forward, heads and tails up high, before kicking their hind legs behind them.
You could notice one jumping around the ground, scraping away leaf litter in search of acorns, beetles, insects, seeds, spiders, berries, and oats if you keep your eyes peeled.
You could be fortunate enough to see a spotted towhee in your garden if you keep bird feeders up there.
6. Emperor Penguins
After Emperor penguins, king penguins take the cake as the biggest of the penguin species.
They may range in height from 29 inches to 38 inches and in weight from 22 to 40 lbs.
Larger men are the norm than smaller females.
An adult king penguin’s throat, head, and beak are a bright orange-yellow, while the rest of its body is black.
Beaches and valleys of flat terrain or mild slopes, free of ice and snow, and proximity to the sea are ideal habitats for these Subantarctic islanders and peninsular residents.
The king penguin is an omnivore that eats crustaceans, fish, and squid.
These animals dive to depths of over a thousand feet in search of food.
During the mating season, these gregarious birds gather in massive colonies, with populations reaching over 200 thousand individuals in certain cases.
Although they are monogamous, only around 70% of king penguins remain with their partners throughout their lives.
They have an extremely lengthy breeding cycle of 14 to 16 months, which presumably explains this.
Their eggs are incubated by a loose skin called a brood patch as they stand on their heads; the parents take turns tending to the eggs.
7. Magisterial Frigatebird
Among frigatebirds, beautiful frigatebirds are the biggest in the world.
They weigh between 2.7 and 3.56 pounds, stretch out to an impressive 9 feet all over the wings, and are about 5 feet in length.
The Gulf of Mexico, which includes the states of Florida and Texas, is where you’ll see them the most often across North America.
Large black birds with sharply pointed wings and long, forked tails are readily identified by their common name, “magnificent,” which reflects their outstanding look and temperament.
Male superb frigatebirds have a red neck pouch that they expand like a balloon during the mating season. Female fantastic frigatebirds are black and have white bellies and chests.
Mostly, they eat flying fish, tuna, and squid, all of which they catch from the surface of the water.
Magnificent frigatebirds, like their bigger relatives, the great frigatebirds, are fish thieves. This is referred to as “Kleptoparasitism.”
Birds with such large wingspans are unable to land on water because their plumage is not watertight, and they would die if they did.
8. Great Black-backed Gull
The great black-backed gull is the state bird of Florida and the biggest gull throughout North America, with a weight of more than 5.5 pounds and a wingspan of nearly 6 feet and 7 inches.
Their massive yellow beaks, which measure between 2.10 to 2.86 inches, have earned them the moniker “kings of the Atlantic shoreline.”
The backs and wings of great black-backed gulls are a dark charcoal gray, while their faces, necks, and bellies are white.
Their legs are bright pink. You may recognize these gulls by their “laughing” “kaa-ga-ga” sounds and deeper voices than other gulls.
When it comes to food, great black-backed gulls are fierce predators, thieves, and scavengers.
During the breeding season, these birds would hunt smaller birds because of their massive size and omnivorous dietary preferences.
Additionally, rodents, fish, carrion, mollusks, marine worms, crabs, berries, and insects make up the diet of great black-backed gulls.
Hat feathers were made from the down of great black-backed gulls, which prompted their hunting.
The species was wiped off throughout a substantial portion of its range as a consequence.
However, nowadays, there are more of them than ever before since they have learned to adapt to human presence.
As a matter of fact, they have expanded so much that in certain regions, they are now considered pests.
9. Hooded Merganser
Little diving ducks with big personalities and hooded mergansers are a sight to see.
Because “lophos” implies “crest” and “duties” implies “diver,” their scientific name aptly depicts them.
The male hooded merganser is distinguished by his all-black body (tail, neck, and back feathers), his all-white chest and belly, his all-black head with noticeable white spots, and his all-chestnut sides.
Both sexes possess crests that may be raised or lowered, and females have a darker base coloration with gray and brown highlights.
These waterfowl are indigenous to North America and spend the warmer months cruising the shores of the continent’s lakes and ponds.
They go in couples or small groups, but they have been seen to mingle with other ducks in their wintering habitats on the west and east coasts of the United States.
Hooded mergansers are easily recognized by their “crrroo” sounds, which sound like a frog’s rolling croak.
They eat a wide variety of foods, including aquatic invertebrates, crayfish, fish, and even certain plants.
When diving for food, they rely on their eyes to guide them for up to two minutes as they pursue their prey.
They, like camels, have a translucent third eyelid termed a “nictitating membrane” that enables them to look underwater without harming their eyes.
For the duration of the breeding season, both the male and female hooded merganser will remain faithful to one another.
The males abandon the females to tend to the incubation and rearing of the 8 to 16 white eggs.
10. Hairy Woodpecker
Hairy woodpeckers are black and white woodpeckers of medium size.
Their wings are black with white spots, their tummies are white, their heads have two white bands, and their backs are black, having a broad white spot along the middle.
The hairy woodpecker is a year-round resident of the mature deciduous woods over much of Central and North America.
Their “peek” cry is brief and piercing, like that of the downy woodpecker.
The fundamental distinction between these two black-and-white woodpeckers is that downy woodpeckers are thinner and have smaller beaks.
The “hairy” moniker comes from the white, threadlike plumage on the bird’s central back, which it displays when foraging along the trunks and major branches of huge trees.
Hairy woodpeckers, like other woodpeckers, serve a crucial part in the ecology by creating nesting sites for other species and consuming the insects that otherwise would have destroyed the trees. They also eat the occasional seed, berry, or nut.
In order to explore trees for insects, these birds have a tongue twice the size of their beak, as well as thick bones and tissue that function as a shock absorber.
11. Eurasian Magpie
The Eurasian magpie often referred to as the common magpie, is a highly clever bird that may be spotted in the open fields with scattered trees over northwest Africa, Asia, and Europe.
Glossy black on their chests, heads, and necks, vivid blue-green on their tails and wings, and white on their stomachs and scapulars best describe Eurasian magpies.
Incredible intelligence manifests itself in these magpies, which can mimic human speech, play games, collaborate well in groups, and even spot themself in the glass (the mirror test).
Great apes, dolphins, elephants, and magpies are the only remaining known non-human creatures to successfully complete the mirror test.
These birds have a varied diet that includes other animals’ eggs and young, as well as insects, carrion, acorns, small mammals, and cereals.
The ladies will incubate a clutch of 2 to 11 light blue-green eggs having brown markings, whereas the males provide food.
12. Eastern Kingbird
Large flycatchers known as eastern kingbirds may be spotted throughout the Americas.
They like open regions with shrubs and dispersed trees for perching as they hunt for insects in the countryside, on farmland, and in meadows.
The feathers of an Eastern Kingbird are mostly dark gray and black, with white underparts, a dark crown, and white stripes at the points of its tail.
They breed over the whole of North America, laying 3 to 5 cream-colored eggs having reddish patches in tree or shrub nests before migrating south to spend the cold weather, usually in the northwest Amazon region.
During the mating season, they become very territorial and violent, chasing away even larger birds like crows and hawks.
A song of loud, sputtering notes, the eastern kingbird’s cries include the high-pitched “kiit-kiit” and “dzeee-dzeee” noises.
They like to wait on wires for prey to come to them before making a darting flight to get it.
Additionally, fruit and berries make up a significant portion of the diet of eastern kingbirds, especially in the colder months of the year.
13. Tufted Duck
The ring-necked ducks of North America have an Old World analog in the form of the tufted duck.
Aside from the shores of Asia and Europe, these little diving ducks may also spend the winter along the beaches of Canada and the United States.
A male tufted duck will be completely black, with white flanks and a belly, and a blue-gray beak.
The females are darker overall, with white bellies, darker chests, and grayish beaks.
Tufted ducks are commonly mistaken for larger and smaller scaups, despite the fact that these two species of duck don’t possess tufts on their forehead and have distinct sounds.
Male tufted ducks will produce a whistling “wit-oo” sound when wooing a female, while female tufted ducks will make a loud “karr” call.
They are omnivores, eating anything from plants to mollusks to insects, but several black ducks with white stomachs do much of their feeding by diving.
14. Black-Necked Stilt
The black-necked stilt is a beautiful shorebird with a white neck and black body.
The black-necked stilt is a remarkable bird with black wings and back, a white belly, a narrow black beak, and long rose pinkish legs.
The Latin term “stilt” refers to the long, slender legs of the black-necked stilt.
These birds are most often seen in open areas near bodies of shallow water; in the eastern United States, they are mostly missing.
They wade into the water in quest of aquatic species and insects.
Because of their social nature, black-necked stilts frequently roost in loose flocks, yet, they frequently scatter while foraging.
You may identify them by their brief, squeaky, and repetitive “yip-yip-yip” calls.
The female will hatch anywhere from three to five eggs, and the male and female will alternate, incubating the clutch.
A few hours after hatching, the juvenile may be spotted swimming about.
15. Bigger Scaup
The greater scaup is a diving duck of medium size, distinguished by its round head and bright yellow eyes.
Their distinctive dull blue bills having black ends have earned them the nickname “bluebills” throughout North America.
Male Greater Scaups are distinguished by their white flanks and belly, white wing stripes, and black chests.
The females have the same dark plumage and white wing patterns as the males.
Male greater scaup may be recognized by his nasal, whistling courtship sounds, and a female by her scratchy “arr-arr” warning cries.
They spend the winter around the coastlines of North America, the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, and the Great Lakes, and their breeding grounds are the small lakes and ponds of northern Alaska and Canada.
Female greater scaups will hatch between six and nine olive-brown eggs, and the species is monogamous.
Hundreds of birds, if not thousands, will flock together for the winter.
Omnivorous greater scaups consume a wide variety of foods, including mollusks, insects, plants, crabs, and seeds.
In conclusion, the remarkable world of black birds with white bellies is as diverse as it is captivating.
From the elegant Eastern Kingbird to the melodious Bigger Scaup, these 15 distinct species showcase the incredible beauty and adaptability of the avian kingdom.
As we’ve explored each of these fascinating birds, we’ve learned about their unique characteristics, habitats, and behaviors, further deepening our appreciation for these monochrome marvels.
So the next time you find yourself gazing at the sky, take a moment to search for these enchanting black-and-white beauties and let their mesmerizing presence inspire a newfound love and respect for the incredible biodiversity that graces our planet.
How can I identify a black bird with a white belly?
Pay attention to the bird’s size, shape, beak, and distinctive markings. Also, observe its behavior and listen for unique songs or calls to help identify the specific species.
Are black birds with white bellies found worldwide?
Yes, these birds can be found across the globe, with some species native to specific regions, while others have a more widespread distribution.
Do black birds with white bellies all belong to the same family?
No, these birds belong to various families, such as ducks, blackbirds, orioles, and flycatchers. Their shared coloration is a result of convergent evolution rather than close relations.
What kind of habitats do black birds with white bellies prefer?
The preferred habitat varies among species. Some birds thrive in wetlands, while others prefer forests, grasslands, or urban environments. Their habitat preferences are often determined by their diet and nesting requirements.
Are any of these black birds with white bellies endangered?
The conservation status varies among species. While some are abundant and widespread, others face threats from habitat loss, pollution, or climate change, and may be listed as vulnerable or endangered.
What do black birds with white bellies eat?
The diet of these birds depends on their species. Some are omnivores, consuming both plant material and insects, while others may specialize in seeds, fruits, or nectar. A few species are even known to prey on small mammals, fish, or other birds.
Do black birds with white bellies migrate?
Migration patterns vary among species. Some black birds with white bellies are migratory, traveling long distances between breeding and wintering grounds, while others may be year-round residents or undertake only short-distance movements.
Can I attract black birds with white bellies to my backyard?
Providing a suitable habitat with native plants, bird feeders, and nesting boxes can attract some species of black birds with white bellies. Make sure to research the specific needs of the species you’re trying to attract and consider their natural range to increase your chances of success.