There are some interesting bird species out there that have striking differences in color. One of these are the black birds with white heads. From the bald eagle to the small western osprey, there are plenty of birds you’ll learn about on this list.
These birds with white heads and black bodies have different characteristics that make them unique. In the article below we’ll learn about their plumage, favored habitats, songs and more. Get out your journal and let’s get started.
List of Black Birds with White Heads
- 1. Bald eagles
- 2. White-headed woodpecker
- 3. Black and white marsh tyrant
- 4. Black and white hawk eagle
- 5. White-headed black bulbul
- 6. Albino blackbird
- 7. White-headed vulture
- 8. White-headed barbet
- 9. Western Osprey
- 10. White-headed pigeon
- 11. Black-faced hawk
- 12. Swallow-tailed kite
- 13. Black-banded fruit dove
- 14. White crowned pigeon
- 15. Downy woodpecker
- 17. Blue-throated piping guan
- 18. Pacific gull
- 19. White-crested Hornbill
- 20. Palm-nut vulture
- 21. African fish eagle
1. Bald eagles
The bald eagle is one of the most iconic symbols of America. This impressive bird has a wingspan of up to seven feet and a weight of up to 14 pounds; same size as golden eagles.
Both sexes are similar in appearance. They have a blackish body and a white head and tail. The bill and feet are yellow. Note the yellow eyes.
Bald eagles can be found in all sorts of habitats, from forests to open fields, but they prefer large bodies of water where there is plenty of fish to eat. They usually build their nests in tall trees near the water’s edge.
The bald eagle was listed as endangered in 1967, but it has made a remarkable comeback and is now considered threatened. The main threats to the bald eagle are habitat destruction and hunting. Bald eagles mate for life and both parents take part in raising the young.
Can a bald eagle hurt a human? Bald eagles are territorial especially when breeding. They are known to attack human beings so it’s recommended you watch them from a distance.
What is the bald eagle best known for? Though its name suggests it’s a bald bird, it has a large white head. Also, they can fly up to 10,000 feet and can live up to 30 years.
What kind of birds look like a bald eagle? Same size birds include turkey vultures, red tailed hawks and golden eagles. Learn more about bald eagles
2. White-headed woodpecker
With long wings and sharp beak, the white-headed woodpecker is an unmistakable bird. It is a medium-sized woodpecker found in eastern North America. It is the part of the woodpecker family, birds that are known as nature’s carpenters.
The bird is black overall, with a small red patch on its head and a black tail. Males and females are similar in appearance.
This bird with white head with black body is a common bird, found in deciduous forests and open fields. It feeds on insects, larvae, and other invertebrates, drilling into tree trunks and branches to find them. The bird nests in holes in trees, often using abandoned holes made by other species of woodpecker.
The white-headed woodpecker is not considered threatened or endangered, but its population has declined slightly in recent years.
Are white-headed woodpeckers rare? No, the white-headed woodpecker is not endangered and you can easily spot them in California.
3. Black and white marsh tyrant
Sexually dimorphic, the black and white marsh tyrant is a small white and black bird with long tail. The male is a stocky bird with a long tail, and is mainly black except for the white head and yellowish beak. Female marsh tyrants are brownish with whitish underparts. Immature tyrants are mostly white.
Adult marsh tyrants measure about 4 inches and weigh about 0.5 oz. The black and white marsh tyrant inhabits wetland habitats such as marshes, mangroves, and estuaries. It feeds on insects such as froghoppers and dragonflies. The species is monogamous, and builds a bulky cup-shaped nest out of sticks.
Black and white marsh tyrants are fairly common in South America.
4. Black and white hawk eagle
Is there a black and white bird? Black and white hawk eagle is a black and white bird of prey that is native to Mexico. The black and white hawk eagle is a rare bird that is known for its yellow eyes, black and white coloring on its body, yellow feet, and a black-tipped yellow bill.
The black and white hawk eagle measures about 24 inches with a wingspan of about 46 inches and weighs about 30 oz. Like other large black birds with white heads they are excellent hunters. This hawk eagle prefers smaller birds especially wood-quails and toucans.
During the breeding season, these large white and black birds of prey build large nests and their clutch consists of 2 creamy white eggs.
Where do black and white hawk eagles live? Though rare to spot, you can find them in Brazil, Argentina and Southern Mexico. They favor middle elevation forests.
Related read: blackbirds of the world
5. White-headed black bulbul
White-headed black bulbul or the Hypsipetes leucocephalus are a songbird that are a resident breeder in Africa. They are a member of the bulbul family, Pycnonotidae which also includes laughingthrushes and babblers. This open field black bird with white head prefers open woodland, dry savannah, and scrubland.
The white-headed black bulbul is about 7 inches long. It has a mainly black body, with a white head. Its bill and legs are orange.
The white-headed black bulbul is a vocal bird, and sings throughout the day. It has a variety of calls, including grating and cheeping calls.
These small black birds with white heads prefer building nests on bushes where females lay up to three eggs.
6. Albino blackbird
Albinism is a rare genetic disorder that results in a lack of color production. As a result, albino birds are typically quite pale.
Albino blackbirds are not common, but they can be found in certain parts of North America. They are easily identifiable by their white feathers on their heads, lower black body and bright red eyes. Albino blackbirds are generally shy and secretive creatures, and they prefer to stay hidden from view.
7. White-headed vulture
Medium-size, powerful and critically endangered, the White-headed vultures are large birds that can be found in Africa. These birds have a wingspan of up to seven feet and typically have a black or dark brown body. They weigh up to 10 lb.
What sets the white-headed vulture apart from other vultures is its distinctive white head. This bird feeds mostly on carrion, but will also eat small animals if necessary. White-headed vultures are monogamous and mate for life. These birds build their nests high in trees, where they lay two to three eggs.
8. White-headed barbet
The white-headed barbet is a black and white bird that is endemic to forests of Central Africa. They are about 7 inches long and have a thick, white head and strong beak. Their underparts are mostly whitish and have gray-black feet.
White-headed barbets eat insects and seeds. They build nests out of mud and line them with leaves. These birds are monogamous and both parents help care for the young. These small white headed birds are gregarious and are often found in groups. So, when planning your next bird watching trip in Africa, make sure to take a good picture of this species.
9. Western Osprey
Western Ospreys are large white headed black birds that can be found in western North America. These large raptors are mostly brownish-black with a white head. They have a wingspan of about 6 feet, and can weigh up to 4 pounds.
Western Ospreys feed primarily on fish and because of this you’ll often find them around saltmarshes, reservoirs, cliff reeves, and ponds. They hunt by hovering over the water’s surface until they spot a fish, then diving down to snatch it up. They build their nests near bodies of water too, typically using sticks and grasses.
The Western Osprey is not considered a threatened species in many parts of its range. And, they are still common enough that they spot one in the wild.
Western ospreys incubate their whitish eggs for up to 43 days, which is longer than most birds on this list.
10. White-headed pigeon
The white-headed pigeon is a bird in the family Columbidae. It is a small, plump dove, typically 16 inches long and weighing about 13 oz. The male has mainly white head, neck and underbelly plumage, black wings and tail, and a red bill with a yellow tip. The female is similar in size and has a dark blue back and grayish underside.
The white-headed pigeon is found in open country and woodland in Australia. It is resident throughout its range. It nests in the tallest trees, laying one egg. The diet consists mainly of fruits, but insects are also taken.
11. Black-faced hawk
Black-faced hawks are unique black and white birds from the family accipitridae which includes other large birds of prey. It is found in open and semi-open areas of the Amazon basin.
It is a medium size raptor, similar in size to the common buzzard. It has black upperparts while the head, breast and belly are white. The beak is red with a black tip and the legs are yellow.
Why is it called a black-faced hawk? When you see this bird the first thing you’ll notice is hte dark mask that stretches between its eyes, giving it its name. The diet of this black bird with white head includes small mammals, birds, lizards, snakes and insects. They are also known for their piecing “keeuuu” call.
12. Swallow-tailed kite
Known for its majestic flying ability, the swallow-tailed kite is a medium sized raptor found in the Americas. It is part of the family accipitridae that also includes hawks and vultures . This kite is easily recognized by its long, deeply forked tail.
The plumage is blackish above and white below, with a long tail. Swallow-tailed hawks are migratory, spending the winter in South America and breeding in North America. They build large stick nests in trees or on cliffs. These hawks feed on a variety of prey, including small amphibians, small mammals, and reptiles such as lizards and snakes.
13. Black-banded fruit dove
Large and reclusive, the black-banded fruit dove is a beautiful bird found in the forests of Australia. These birds are about 17 inches long and have a wingspan of about 13 inches. They are mostly a black color, with white that spreads from its head, neck and breast. They have a yellow beak and red feet, and a pale underside.
Black-banded fruit doves live in pairs or small groups, and they eat fruits. They build their nests out of sticks, and lay two eggs. These birds are very peaceful and rarely fly away from danger.
Black-banded fruit doves are not endangered, but they are threatened by deforestation and habitat loss. If you ever get the chance to see one of these beautiful birds, be sure to take it in!
14. White crowned pigeon
The white crowned pigeon is a large dull colored bird found in rainforests and woodlands of the Caribbean. Both sexes are the same; black below with tipped tail feathers and white on the head. Note their red feet.
These black birds with white on head are shy but curious birds, often approaching people to take food from their hands. They eat a variety of fruits, seeds, and insects.
15. Downy woodpecker
Found in North America, the downy woodpecker is a small black and white bird that is easily recognized by its white-and-black plumage and small size. This species is common in both rural and urban areas, and can often be seen pecking away at tree bark in search of insects.
Downy woodpeckers are year-round residents in most of their range, but some birds may migrate southward during the winter. These birds are cavity nesters, meaning they build their nests inside tree cavities or other holes in the ground.
Downy woodpeckers typically lay four to six eggs, and both parents help to incubate and care for the young. Downy woodpeckers are considered to be beneficial to humans because they help control insect populations.
17. Blue-throated piping guan
Like other guans, blue-throated piping guans are large white headed black birds from the Cracidae family. They are found in forests and woodlands of tropical South America and are easily mistaken for a turkey bird.
This species is closely related to the white-throated piping guan, which has a white throat, but the blue-throated piping guan can be distinguished by its larger size, dark blue throat, and a white crested head.
The adult blue-throated piping guan has a blackish head with a green gloss, while young ones are duller in appearance. Both sexes have white wing patches, red feet, and a long tail.
Breeding season starts from February lasting until May. This large black and white bird species prefers fruits.
18. Pacific gull
Pacific gulls are a large seabird that can be found along the coast of North America. These birds are known for their white heads and black wings and tails, and they can be easily identified by their loud cries.
Where do pacific sea gulls live? They breed in colonies in sheltered beaches, and they often form large flocks while they are feeding or migrating. These birds are scavengers, and they can be seen eating seaweed, fish, or other marine animals. Pacific gulls are also known to steal food from other birds.
19. White-crested Hornbill
I believe the white-crested hornbill is a must-see for any birding enthusiast. With stunning white head feathers, the white-crested hornbill is a medium-sized bird found in Africa. The adult has a mostly black body, with a white head and neck.
Notice their long, thick, slightly curved beak, it really comes in handy when searching for insects from tree bark. These long tailed black and white birds are monogamous and mate for life. The female builds the nest, which is made of sticks, in a tree cavity. The chicks are born altricial (naked and helpless) and stay in the nest for about six months.
20. Palm-nut vulture
The palm-nut vulture or vulturine fish eagle is a large, black and white vulture that is found in Africa . This vulture feeds mainly on the fruit of the palm tree, which gives it its name. The palm-nut vulture is one of the largest vultures in Africa, and can be distinguished from other vultures by its black plumage, white shoulders and head.
This large black bird with white head measures about 24 inches and has a wingspan of up to 60 inches. This vulture is also one of the most social vultures, often congregating in large groups to feed.
Are palm-nut vultures rare? No, you can easily find them in their range and there are about 80,000 pairs in the wild.
21. African fish eagle
With black, white and brown plumage, the African fish eagle is a large raptor found throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Adults have a distinctive appearance, chestnut belly, black wings and tail, and a white head. Note the curved yellow black-tipped beak.
These eagles are opportunistic feeders, preying on a wide variety of aquatic creatures, including fish, amphibians, and small mammals. They are also known to steal food from other birds. African fish eagles nest in tall trees near water, typically laying two eggs. The chicks fledge at around 10 weeks old.
Hi, my name is Steve. My friend and I started the spanishbirdguides.com to share our passion with other like-minded people. So, if bird watching is your thing, you’ll love this blog. I’ll share what I’ve learnt about both local birds and those found in other parts of the world. Also, I’d love to hear your experiences.