Blackbirds, Orioles, & Allies

Great-tailed Grackle

Great-tailed grackle photo by D. Faulder / Wikimedia Commons

Look For Adult male great-tailed grackle is a large, glossy black bird and long black keel-shaped tail, for which it is named. They also have a purple iridescence to their plumage. Furthermore, they have a huge bill and yellow eyes. Females and young birds are smaller and pale brown below, dark gray above, with a… Read more

Boat-tailed Grackle

Boat-tailed grackle by Dick Daniels / Wikimedia Commons

Look For This big, dark bird is like a common grackle with a tail extension. Males are dark bluish green in bright sunlight and 16 ½ inches in length. Females are dark brown overall with black wings and are slightly smaller than males (14 ½ inches long). This species was formerly considered a single species… Read more

Hooded Oriole

Hooded Oriole Photo by Tony Hisgett via Wiki Commons

Look For Adult male is orange and black with an orange crown and black face and throat. The “hood” on the hooded oriole is golden orange, not black as in many of our other orioles. Their bill is thinner and down-curved. White coverts on black wings are less extensive than those of Bullock’s oriole. They… Read more

Bullock’s Oriole

Bullock's Oriole Photo by Kevin Cole via Wiki Commons

Look For Adult male is bright orange below with an orange face, black throat and crown, and black eye line. The similar hooded oriole has an orange crown and nape. The Bullock’s huge white wing patch (on the coverts) stands out on black wings and is obvious in flight, as is the black-tipped tail of… Read more


Male bobolink. Photo by Brian Henry.

Look For Male bobolinks go through a dramatic plumage change from spring to fall. In summer, the male is a handsome blend of black, white, and butterscotch. They look like they are wearing a tuxedo backwards! In fall, he changes to buffy tans and browns, similar to what the female wears year-round. Fall male and… Read more

Orchard Oriole

Orchard Oriole (Photo: Dan Pancamo/Creative Commons)

Look for The smallest oriole in North America is also the darkest, with a designer color scheme of chestnut and black that is rarely seen in songbirds. The male’s deep orange-chestnut underparts are set off by a black hood, back, and tail. The female is an even olive-yellow overall, with whitish wing bars. She is… Read more

Baltimore Oriole

Male Baltimore oriole photo Sandy Kanerva

Look for Baltimore orioles are slightly smaller and more slender than American robins. Look for a thin, sharp, silver, gray, or black bill with a wide base. Underparts range from dull yellow to flame orange. Adult male Baltimore orioles have an entirely black head and upper mantle, an orange middle and lower back and rump… Read more

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Yellow-headed Blackbird (Photo: Kyle Carlsen)

The yellow-headed blackbird is a real stunner in the plumage department. The male is the only North American bird with a black body and a yellow head, neck, and chest. In addition, he flashes large white wing patches in flight, a feature not present in the plain, more sparrowlike female. Each spring, enormous flocks of… Read more

Rusty Blackbird

Rusty Blackbird (Photo: Creative Commons)

The rusty blackbird is primarily a bird of the wet woodlands and swamps of the East, migrating north and/or westward to breed all the way from Newfoundland to the Bering Sea. Females, juveniles, and winter males display rich brown tones in varying degrees, whereas the male’s breeding plumage entirely lacks them. Adult female rusties have… Read more

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Look for The conk-a-ree call of the male red-winged blackbird fills the air over marshes and fields all across North America. As he gives this call, announcing himself loudly to rivals and potential mates alike, he spreads his shoulders just so, showing bright red and yellow epaulets against his black wings. Redwings are medium-sized (8… Read more

Brewer’s Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird (Photo: Linda Tanner / Creative Commons)

Look For An adult male is all black with a pale eye. Plumage can appear glossy purple and green in bright sunlight. They are about 9 inches in length. Their tail is square-ended and much shorter than those of grackles. Telling breeding-season male rusty and Brewer’s blackbirds apart can be tricky. Adult male Brewer’s never… Read more

Eastern Meadowlark

Eastern Meadowlark (Photo: Bill Thompson, III)

Look for A familiar bird of rural farm fields, meadows, and grasslands, the eastern meadowlark is known by its distinctive field mark: a bright yellow breast with a “V” of black. Meadowlarks will sing from the ground and in flight, but they often use an elevated perch, such as a fencepost, tree, or power line… Read more

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