Black and White Birds Found in Pennsylvania

Birdwatching is a fascinating and rewarding hobby enjoyed by nature enthusiasts around the world. Pennsylvania, with its diverse habitats and ecosystems, offers a fantastic opportunity for birdwatchers to spot a wide variety of avian species, including numerous black and white birds. In this article,

In this article, we will explore 14 black and white birds Found in Pennsylvania, that add a touch of elegance and allure to the state’s diverse landscape.

14 Types of Black and White Birds Found in Pennsylvania

Among the numerous bird species in Pennsylvania, several captivating ones boast striking black and white plumage. These birds exhibit fascinating behaviors and adaptations that have helped them thrive in their respective environments.

Let’s dive into the details of 16 such captivating black and white birds:

The Great Black-backed Gull

The Great Black-backed Gull, the largest gull species on earth, stands out due to its enormous size, with a length of about 30 inches and a remarkable wingspan of roughly 5 feet.

Its spotless white body is stunningly contrasted with its jet-black wings and back, enhancing its majestic aspect. These gulls enjoy coastal areas and huge bodies of water, where they may show off their adaptability as opportunistic feeders by consuming fish, small birds, carrion, and even human waste.

A mesmerizing sight for birdwatchers fortunate enough to see one, the Great Black-backed Gull occasionally graces Pennsylvania during migration despite being primarily located along coasts.

Black-backed Gull
Scientific NameLarus marinus
AppearanceBlack-backed Gull is a massive gull species with a striking black back and wings, contrasting beautifully with its pristine white body
SizeApproximately 76-79 centimeters (30 inches) in length
WingspanAround 152-167 centimeters (60-66 inches)
HabitatCoastal regions, beaches, harbors, estuaries
RangePrimarily found in coastal areas of North America, but occasionally ventures into Pennsylvania during migration
DietOpportunistic feeder, consuming fish, small birds, human refuse, and carrion
VocalizationExhibits a variety of calls, including deep, resonant cries
Nesting HabitsNests are built on the ground, often near water, using grass, seaweed, and other materials
BehaviorHighly adaptable and skilled scavengers
Interesting FactGreat Black-backed Gull is a top predator among gulls, known to steal food from other birds and even ospreys

The Black-capped Chickadee

With its endearing look, the popular tiny songbird known as the Black-capped Chickadee wins people over. Its white cheeks and tummy give it a hint of elegance, and it wears a striking black cap and bib.

These active and sociable birds frequently stop by Pennsylvania’s suburban neighborhoods, parks, and woodlands. They are nimble foragers who perform acrobatic feats while looking for seeds and insects, and their cheery “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” call fills the air.

These jovial tiny birds, year-round residents in Pennsylvania, fascinate both seasoned birdwatchers and intrepid nature lovers.

Scientific NamePoecile atricapillus
AppearanceSmall bird with a black cap and bib, white cheeks, and grayish-brown upperparts
SizeApproximately 11-14 centimeters (4-5.5 inches) in length
WingspanAround 16-21 centimeters (6-8 inches)
HabitatWoodlands, forests, parks, and gardens
RangeFound throughout North America, including Banff
DietOmnivorous, feeding on insects, seeds, berries, and small fruits
VocalizationKnown for its distinctive “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” call, along with various whistles and trills
Nesting HabitsConstructs nests in tree cavities, birdhouses, or tree stumps, often using moss and fur
BehaviorActive and agile, often hanging upside down while foraging, forming flocks in winter
Interesting FactBlack-capped Chickadees have excellent spatial memory, enabling them to remember food caches

The Black Skimmer

The Black Skimmer is a unique and mesmerizing bird with its striking black and white plumage. Its most remarkable feature is its elongated lower mandible, which sets it apart from other species.

Thriving in coastal regions, estuaries, and sandy shores, they showcase their remarkable fishing technique by gliding just above the water, skimming its surface to capture small fish with precision.

While they primarily breed along southeastern and Gulf coasts, Black Skimmers occasionally visit Pennsylvania during migration, making their appearance a special treat for birdwatchers seeking to witness their graceful presence.

Scientific NameRynchops niger
Appearanceblack upperparts and striking white underparts. Its most distinctive feature is its long, slender bill, which is bright orange at the base and black towards the tip
SizeApproximately 40-50 centimeters (16-20 inches) in length
WingspanAround 101-114 centimeters (40-45 inches)
HabitatCoastal regions, estuaries, inland waters with sandy shores
RangePrimarily found along southeastern and Gulf coasts, occasionally visits Pennsylvania during migration
DietSkims the water’s surface while flying, using its lower bill to catch small fish and crustaceans
VocalizationUtters short, barking calls during courtship and colony interactions
Nesting HabitsNests are shallow depressions in sandy or gravelly areas, often near colonies of other waterbirds
BehaviorExhibits impressive fishing technique of skimming the water’s surface with its bill open
Interesting FactBlack Skimmers have vertical pupils, which help them reduce glare from the water surface while hunting for prey

The White-breasted Nuthatch

The White-breasted Nuthatch, a charismatic songbird, exhibits a distinct appearance with a clean white face and breast, beautifully contrasting its blue-gray back and wings. Easily recognizable by its acrobatic ability, it often crawls headfirst down tree trunks, searching for insects and seeds.

Their fondness for deciduous and mixed forests makes them a common sight throughout Pennsylvania, where their presence brings joy to birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Year-round residents in the state, White-breasted Nuthatches add delightful charm to the natural landscape with their energetic foraging and resonant calls.

Scientific NameSitta carolinensis
Appearancefeatures a clean white face and breast, contrasting with its slate-blue back and wings. It also sports a striking black cap on its head.
SizeApproximately 13-14 centimeters (5-6 inches) in length
WingspanAround 20-29 centimeters (8-11 inches)
HabitatDeciduous and mixed forests
RangeYear-round resident in Pennsylvania and widespread across North America
DietInsectivorous, feeding on insects, nuts, and seeds
VocalizationKnown for its distinctive nasal “yank-yank” call
Nesting HabitsBuilds its nests in tree cavities, often using bark and other materials to create a cozy lining
BehaviorClimbs tree trunks and branches headfirst while foraging for food
Interesting Factknown to cache food by hiding seeds and nuts under loose tree bark, creating a stash to rely on during harsh winter months

The Black-throated Blue Warbler

A little migratory songbird with a velvety black neck and face in males and a rich blue color on its upperparts in females, the Black-throated Blue Warbler has remarkable traits.

Slate-blue colored females have a more muted appearance. These warblers, which are found in dense forests, aggressively seek for insects by climbing tree trunks and branches. During the breeding season, their buzzy singing fills the air.

Black-throated Blue Warblers travel through Pennsylvania, where they can be seen briefly yet mesmerizingly, despite the fact that they primarily breed in northern locations.

Scientific NameSetophaga caerulescens
Appearancesexual dimorphism, with males displaying striking deep blue plumage on their upperparts and a black throat
SizeApproximately 12-13 centimeters (5 inches) in length
WingspanAround 18-22 centimeters (7-9 inches)
HabitatMature deciduous and mixed forests
RangeDuring migration, they pass through Pennsylvania, primarily breeding in northeastern North America
DietInsectivorous, feeding on insects, caterpillars, and spiders
VocalizationTheir song is a high-pitched and buzzy “zee-zee-zee-zoo-zee”
Nesting HabitsBuild cup-shaped nests, usually situated in the fork of a tree branch
BehaviorAgile climbers and foragers, often seen hopping along branches
Interesting Factknown for its unique “reversed” sexual role, where females establish territories and compete for mates, a rarity among songbirds.

The Pied-billed Grebe

The captivating pied-billed grebe is an aquatic bird that stands out for having a distinctive beak with a noticeable black band towards the tip. These lone birds like freshwater areas like lakes, ponds, and marshes.

They are excellent divers and can propel themselves underwater to look for fish and aquatic invertebrates. Although it can be difficult to notice them due to their stealthy nature, their presence in Pennsylvania’s wetlands is evidence of the state’s diversified avian population.

For any bird enthusiast, seeing a Pied-billed Grebe skimming smoothly across the water’s surface is a satisfying experience.

Scientific NamePodilymbus podiceps
Appearancecompact water bird with a distinctive black vertical stripe on its bill, which is bordered with pale blue. Its plumage ranges from brownish-gray on the upperparts to white on the underparts.
SizeApproximately 28-38 centimeters (11-15 inches) in length
WingspanAround 46-61 centimeters (18-24 inches
HabitatFreshwater lakes, ponds, marshes, and slow-moving rivers
RangeYear-round resident in Pennsylvania and widespread across North America
DietCarnivorous, feeding on aquatic insects, fish, crustaceans, and amphibians
VocalizationKnown for a variety of calls, including yelps, whistles, and growls
Nesting HabitsConstruct floating nests among emergent vegetation
BehaviorExcellent divers and swimmers, using their lobed toes to propel themselves underwater
Interesting FactPied-billed Grebes are exceptional in their ability to sink their bodies in the water, leaving only their head exposed, earning them the nickname “water witches.”

The Black Vulture

The Black Vulture is a big and stately bird of prey that is covered in black feathers and has a wrinkled, beak-less skull. They are a sight to behold in flight, with a wingspan of almost 5 feet.

They soar high in the air and are frequently seen in open spaces and wooded areas. To find carrion, they rely on their excellent sense of smell.

Scavengers play an important function in helping to keep the ecological balance. Black Vultures, which live year-round in Pennsylvania, represent nature’s extraordinary capacity to flourish in a variety of settings.

Scientific NameCoragyps atratus
AppearanceThe Black Vulture is a large and impressive bird of prey, distinguished by its black plumage and featherless, wrinkled head.
SizeApproximately 56-74 centimeters (22-29 inches) in length
WingspanAround 150-160 centimeters (59-63 inches)
HabitatOpen country, forests, urban areas, and coastal regions
RangeYear-round resident in Pennsylvania and throughout much of the Americas
DietScavenger, feeding primarily on carrion, especially roadkill
VocalizationCommunicates using grunts and hisses
Nesting HabitsNests are built on the ground, in caves, or hollow trees, using sticks, leaves, and grass
BehaviorHighly intelligent and social birds, often seen in groups or “kettles” soaring in thermals
Interesting Facthave a keen sense of smell, enabling them to locate carrion from great distances

The Black-crowned Night Heron

A medium-sized heron with distinctive characteristics and black plumage on its head and back is known as the Black-crowned Night Heron. Adults grow eye-catching white plumes on their head and neck during the breeding season, which enhances their grace.

They are frequently observed close to marshes, ponds, and swamps, and are most active after dusk, when they exhibit their deft hunting skills.

They are the perfect example of the balance between predator and prey in nature, waiting patiently for fish, amphibians, and other aquatic prey to get within striking distance. Black-crowned Night Herons are all-year residents that add beauty to Pennsylvania’s wetlands.

Scientific NameNycticorax nycticorax
Appearancemedium-sized heron with distinctive black cap and back, contrasting with its gray underparts
SizeApproximately 58-65 centimeters (23-26 inches) in length
WingspanAround 105-115 centimeters (41-45 inches)
HabitatMarshes, wetlands, swamps, and wooded ponds
RangeYear-round resident in Pennsylvania and widespread across North America
DietNocturnal hunter, feeding on fish, frogs, insects, and small mammals
VocalizationGenerally silent, but emits croaking sounds during courtship
Nesting HabitsNests are built in trees or shrubs near water, constructed with sticks and lined with leaves
BehaviorActive and agile, often hanging upside down while foraging, forming flocks in winter
Interesting Factwell-adapted to life in the dark, possessing large eyes and a special arrangement of light-sensitive cells in their retina called “tapeta lucida,” which enhances their night vision, making them highly efficient hunters in low-light conditions

The White-winged Crossbill

A little bird known as the White-winged Crossbill has a distinctive bill that crosses at the tip, allowing it to effectively harvest seeds from pine cones.

These migratory birds, which thrive in coniferous woods, are always on the move in search of new feeding sites. Although they are not frequently seen in Pennsylvania, their presence during irruptions gives birdwatchers a unique chance to see their unique eating habits and colorful plumage.

The White-winged Crossbill is a sought-after sighting for devoted bird enthusiasts because it serves as a reminder of the complex interactions between birds and their ecosystems.

Scientific NameLoxia leucoptera
Appearanceunique appearance with a crossed bill, which helps it efficiently extract seeds from conifer cones
SizeApproximately 14-16 centimeters (5.5-6.3 inches) in length
WingspanAround 25-30 centimeters (9.8-11.8 inches)
HabitatConiferous forests, especially spruce and pine
RangeIrregular irruptions lead to occasional sightings in Pennsylvania during the winter
DietSpecialized feeder, mainly consuming conifer seeds
VocalizationNot particularly vocal, but emits soft calls during mating season
Nesting HabitsNests are built in conifer trees, usually near the tip of a branch, using twigs, grass, and bark
BehaviorHighly nomadic, traveling in search of conifer cone crops
Interesting Factpossess a unique adaptation in their crossed bills that allows them to pry open conifer cones and access seeds that other finches cannot

The Black Guillemot

A beautiful seabird, the Black Guillemot has a black plumage that is accented by white wing patches and brilliant red feet. They are skilled divers and swimmers who thrive close to coastal cliffs and rugged shorelines.

They search for fish underwater. Their presence gives coastal areas a touch of elegance, and their vocalizations add to the symphony of noises in aquatic situations. Although they tend to breed around northern coasts, they occasionally migrate through Pennsylvania, giving birdwatchers a chance to observe their alluring beauty and fascinating behaviors.

Scientific NameCepphus grylle
Appearancestriking seabird, displaying black plumage with contrasting white wing patches and bright red feet. During the breeding season, its eyes turn white, making it easily identifiable.
SizeApproximately 30-38 centimeters (12-15 inches) in length
WingspanAround 50-60 centimeters (20-24 inches)
HabitatCoastal cliffs, rocky shores, and islands
RangeBreeds along northern coasts, occasionally spotted in Pennsylvania during migration
DietPiscivorous, feeding on small fish, crustaceans, and marine invertebrates
VocalizationUtters a range of calls, including whistles and mewing sounds
Nesting HabitsNests are built in rock crevices or burrows on cliff ledges or among boulders
BehaviorAgile swimmer and diver, capable of swimming underwater to catch prey
Interesting Factare monogamous and form strong pair bonds, often returning to the same nesting site each year. They are fascinating to observe as they engage in courtship displays

The Black-and-white Warbler

The stunning black and white stripes on the body of the black-and-white warbler, a little songbird, resemble the pattern of a small zebra.

These warblers aggressively seek for insects by climbing tree trunks and branches, showing their distinctive foraging strategy. They thrive in old woods with dense understories. Their unusual behavior and appearance make birding more exciting, and their beautiful singing provides a lovely background for wooded settings.

These endearing warblers give birdwatchers an opportunity to marvel at their individuality and understand the glories of avian diversity as they move across Pennsylvania.

Scientific NameMniotilta varia
AppearanceThe Black and White Warbler is a small and striking bird with bold black and white stripes on its body, resembling a tiny referee
SizeApproximately 12-14 centimeters (5-5.5 inches) in length
WingspanAround 20-23 centimeters (8-9 inches)
HabitatMixed woodlands, deciduous forests, and sometimes coniferous forests
RangeDuring migration, they pass through Pennsylvania, but they breed primarily in northern regions of North America
DietInsectivorous, feeding on insects, spiders, and other small arthropods
VocalizationProduces a high-pitched, wiry song, often described as “wee-see, wee-see, wee-see”
Nesting HabitsNests are built on the ground or in low shrubs, constructed from leaves, bark, and grass
BehaviorAgile and acrobatic forager, frequently hitching along tree trunks and branches
Interesting Factunique feeding behavior allows it to access insects that other warblers cannot, making it a fascinating addition to Pennsylvania’s avian diversity during migration.

The Blackpoll Warbler

The Blackpoll Warbler, a small migratory songbird, captivates with its subtle black cap and contrasting white belly.

Breeding in northern coniferous forests, they embark on an extraordinary migration journey to South America during the fall, covering one of the longest nonstop flights of any songbird. Their tenacity and navigational abilities are awe-inspiring, making them a subject of scientific intrigue.

While not a common sight in Pennsylvania, their appearance during migration enriches the state’s avian tapestry, offering birdwatchers a fleeting yet remarkable encounter with these incredible migratory travelers.

Scientific NameSetophaga striata
Appearancesmall, plain-looking warbler during its non-breeding season, with grayish plumage and a hint of black streaking
SizeApproximately 12-14 centimeters (5-5.5 inches)
WingspanAround 20-22 centimeters (8-9 inches)
HabitatMixed woodlands, spruce forests, and occasionally found in coastal areas during migration
RangeBreeds in northern regions of North America and migrates through Pennsylvania during fall
DietInsectivorous, consuming a variety of insects and spiders
VocalizationProduces a high-pitched, thin “wee-see” or “sleeve-sleeve-sleeve” song
Nesting HabitsNests are built in conifer trees, constructed with twigs, grass, and other plant materials
BehaviorRemarkable long-distance migrant, flying thousands of miles from its breeding grounds
Interesting Factknown for its incredible migratory journey

The White-throated Sparrow

The White-throated Sparrow, a medium-sized sparrow, exhibits a vibrant yellow spot between its eyes and a crisp white throat, enhancing its charming appearance. These sparrows thrive in shrubby areas and deciduous woodlands, where they forage for seeds and insects on the ground.

Their distinctive song, often described as “Oh sweet Canada,” resonates through their habitat, adding to the symphony of bird sounds.

As common visitors during migration, White-throated Sparrows contribute their delightful presence to Pennsylvania’s natural landscape, reminding us of the beauty found in even the simplest encounters with nature.

Types of Black and White Birds Found in Ohio
Scientific NameZonotrichia albicollis
Appearanceshowcasing a striking black and white striped crown and a bright white throat. Its face features a defined black eyeline and a yellow spot above the eye
SizeApproximately 16-18 centimeters (6-7 inches) in length
WingspanAround 20-23 centimeters (8-9 inches)
HabitatShrubby areas, deciduous and mixed woodlands
RangeCommon year-round resident in Pennsylvania and widespread across North America
DietSeed-eater, consuming seeds, grains, and insects
VocalizationKnown for its lovely song, often described as “Oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada” or “Old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody”
Nesting HabitsNests are built on or near the ground, typically in a well-hidden location
BehaviorGround forager, often scratching the leaf litter in search of food
Interesting Facthas a fascinating dialect system, where different populations have variations in their song patterns. This has led to the identification of two main dialects, the “White-striped” and “Tan-striped” groups.

The Black Scoter

The Black Scoter is a sea duck distinguished by a conspicuous yellow knob at the base of its bill and stunning black plumage. These ducks are adept divers who prefer to hunt for mollusks and crustaceans in the coastal marine waters.

Although they tend to breed in the north, they occasionally migrate through Pennsylvania’s coastal areas, giving birdwatchers a chance to appreciate their graceful appearance and distinctive adaptations.

Black Scoters, which exhibit the adaptability and diversity of avian life as they gracefully glide across the water, encourage bird lovers to value the beauty of these extraordinary waterfowl.

Scientific NameMelanitta nigra
Appearancelarge sea duck, displaying entirely black plumage with a bright yellow knob at the base of its bill. Females, also black, often have a more brownish hue
SizeApproximately 43-54 centimeters (17-21 inches) in length
WingspanAround 79-89 centimeters (31-35 inches
HabitatCoastal marine waters, nearshore areas
RangePrimarily found in northern coastal regions during breeding season, occasionally seen in Pennsylvania’s coastal areas during migration
DietPiscivorous, diving to catch fish and other marine organisms
VocalizationGenerally silent, but produces soft whistles and grunts during courtship
Nesting HabitsNests are built on the ground, hidden among vegetation near water
BehaviorExcellent diver and swimmer, using its wings to propel itself underwater
Interesting Factknown for its distinctive courtship displays, where males swim in circles and engage in head bobbing to attract females


Many fascinating black and white birds, each with its own beauty and habit, can be found in Pennsylvania. These feathered beauties enhance the state’s natural beauty, from the majestic Great Black-backed Gull and swift Black-capped Chickadee to the stunning Black Skimmer and graceful Black Guillemot.

The state’s appeal for birding is increased by the opportunity for seasonal migrations and year-round residents, which are enjoyed by birdwatchers and other wildlife enthusiasts. We can assure the continuing existence of these amazing avian species in Pennsylvania by protecting their habitats and supporting conservation initiatives.

Read More: Black and White Birds in Banff (ID Guide, Pictures)

Are these black and white birds common in Pennsylvania?

While some black and white birds, like the Black-capped Chickadee and White-throated Sparrow, are common year-round residents, others, such as the Black Skimmer and Blackpoll Warbler, are less frequently seen, primarily during migration. Each species’ abundance depends on factors like seasonal movements and specific habitats.

When is the best time to spot these birds in the state?

The best time to observe these black and white birds in Pennsylvania varies depending on their migration patterns. Spring and fall are excellent seasons for spotting migratory species, while year-round residents can be observed throughout the year. Early morning and late afternoon are generally favorable times for birdwatching, as birds tend to be more active during these hours.

How can I attract black and white birds to my backyard?

To attract black and white birds to your backyard, provide a mix of suitable feeders with seeds, nuts, and suet, which are favorite foods of many species. Planting native trees and shrubs can offer shelter and nesting sites. Installing bird baths or shallow pools of water will also entice them for drinking and bathing.

Are there any endangered black and white bird species in Pennsylvania?

As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, there were no black and white bird species listed as endangered specifically in Pennsylvania. However, it is essential to stay updated with conservation organizations and local wildlife authorities to monitor any changes in the status of these birds.

Where can I find birdwatching guides in Pennsylvania?

Birdwatching guides can be found at various sources, including local birdwatching clubs, nature centers, and state parks. Online resources, such as official state websites and birdwatching forums, also provide valuable information and resources to assist enthusiasts in exploring the diverse avian population in Pennsylvania.

1 thought on “Black and White Birds Found in Pennsylvania”

Leave a Comment