13 Types of Black and White Birds Found in Wisconsin

A beloved activity that connects nature lovers with the realm of avian delights is birdwatching. Wisconsin offers an actual paradise for bird enthusiasts, with a wide range of species to discover. Black and white birds are particularly striking among this state’s colorful and varied avifauna. Their beautiful monochrome plumage lends Wisconsin’s natural splendor an air of sophistication.

In this comprehensive article, we will embark on an exciting journey to discover 13 Types of Black and White Birds Found in Wisconsin.

Each of these feathered marvels brings its own distinct charm to the landscape, captivating the hearts of birdwatchers and casual observers alike. So, let’s delve into the fascinating world of black and white birds in Wisconsin.

Types of Black and White Birds Found in Wisconsin

Black and white birds come from various families and exhibit diverse characteristics. They can be found across different habitats, including forests, wetlands, lakeshores, and grasslands. Some are migratory and visit Wisconsin during specific seasons, while others are year-round residents. Each species contributes to the state’s vibrant ecosystem.

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 Wisconsin’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.

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 Wiscosin
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

Black Tern (Chlidonias niger):

The Black Tern is a graceful and agile bird, with a striking black cap contrasting with its white plumage. Found near freshwater lakes and marshes, it catches insects and small fish by hovering and plunging into the water. Its  buoyant flight makes it a joy to watch as it skims the water’s surface.

Black and White Birds in wisconsin
Scientific NameChlidonias niger
AppearanceBlack head and underparts, gray wings and back
SizeApproximately 9 – 10 inches (23 – 26 cm) in length
WingspanAround 24 – 26 inches (61 – 66 cm)
HabitatFreshwater marshes, ponds, and lakes
DietInsects, small fish, and aquatic invertebrates
VocalizationHigh-pitched “kit” or “kip” calls
Nesting HabitsNests are floating structures anchored to vegetation
BehaviorAgile fliers, plunge-divers, migratory
Interesting FactBlack Terns are one of the few tern species that nest and forage exclusively in freshwater habitats.

Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus):

The Black-headed Grosbeak is a handsome bird that adds a splash of color to Wisconsin woodlands and gardens. With its striking black head contrasting with a white belly, it is a sight to behold.

During the breeding season, the male’s beautiful song fills the air with melodic notes, often accompanied by vibrant orange and black plumage. Its robust bill is well-adapted for cracking seeds and insects, making it a frequent visitor to backyard feeders.

Rose breasted grosbeak
Scientific NamePheucticus melanocephalus
Appearancestriking black head contrasting with a white belly
SizeApproximately 4.5 – 5 inches (11 – 13 cm) in length
WingspanAround 10 – 14 inches (30 – 36 cm)
HabitatOak woodlands and shrubby areas
DietFeeds on insects, especially caterpillars
VocalizationSong with a series of short, melodious phrases
Nesting HabitsBuilds cup-shaped nests in low shrubs or trees
BehaviorElusive and secretive, spends much of its time high in tree canopies
Interesting FactThe Black-headed Grosbeak is listed as an endangered species due to habitat loss

Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps):

The Pied-billed Grebe is a small diving water bird with a black band around its bill. Found in freshwater habitats across Wisconsin, it displays remarkable diving and swimming skills.

Disappearing beneath the water’s surface, it catches fish and aquatic invertebrates to sustain itself. Its ability to float gracefully with its flattened body and pied bill gives it its name.

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.”

Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus):

Graceful and striking, the Black-necked Stilt is a unique wading bird frequently seen in marshes and shallow wetlands across Wisconsin.

With its long, slender pink legs and black-and-white plumage, it presents a captivating sight as it forages for aquatic invertebrates and small fish. Its long, thin bill is expertly designed for probing in the water.

During breeding season, courtship displays and vocalizations are common, as these social birds establish and defend their territories.

Scientific NameHimantopus mexicanus
AppearanceLong, thin black legs, black and white plumage
SizeApproximately 13 – 15 inches (33 – 38 cm) in length
WingspanAround 24 – 27 inches (61 – 69 cm)
HabitatShallow wetlands, mudflats, and saline lakes
DietInsects, small fish, crustaceans
VocalizationHigh-pitched “keek” or “kleep” calls
Nesting HabitsNests are shallow scrapes on the ground
BehaviorWades in shallow water, long-legged waders
Interesting FactBlack-necked Stilts are known for their strikingly long and slender legs, which allow them to easily navigate through shallow waters in search of food.

Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger):

The Black Skimmer is a visually striking bird with its unique hunting technique. With its lower mandible longer than the upper, it skims the water’s surface with an open bill, capturing fish with remarkable precision. Found along coastal areas in Wisconsin, this social bird nests in colonies and forms flocks, creating captivating spectacles for onlookers.

Scientific NameRynchops niger
AppearanceBlack upper body, white underside
SizeApproximately 16 – 21 inches (40 – 53 cm) in length
WingspanAround 44 – 49 inches (112 – 124 cm)
HabitatForests, woodlands, parks, and urban areas
RangeDuring migration, they pass through Pennsylvania, primarily breeding in northeastern North America
DietFish, caught by skimming the water surface with its lower mandible
VocalizationHarsh “yip” or “kark” calls
Nesting HabitsNests are simple scrapes on sandy or gravel beaches
BehaviorExcellent fliers, fishing at dawn and dusk, colonial nesting
Interesting FactBlack Skimmers have a unique feeding technique where they fly low over the water, lower their lower mandible into the water, and “skim” the surface to catch fish.

White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi):

With its unique facial pattern, the White-faced Ibis displays a black crown and facial markings, standing out against its glossy maroon plumage.

It frequents wetlands and marshes, probing for aquatic invertebrates with its long, curved bill. This elegant wading bird adds a touch of sophistication to Texas’ marshy landscapes.

white face ibis
Scientific NamePlegadis chihi
AppearanceGlossy maroon plumage with a black crown and facial markings
SizeApproximately 21 – 27 inches (53 – 69 cm) in length
WingspanAround 3.3 – 3.7 feet (100 – 112 cm)
HabitatWetlands, marshes, and shallow waters
RangeFound in parts of Wisconsin
DietProbes for aquatic invertebrates with its long, curved bill
VocalizationGenerally silent, communicates with croaking and guttural sounds
Nesting HabitsColonially nests in trees and shrubs near water
BehaviorSocial birds, often seen in flocks during migration
Interesting FactThe White-faced Ibis is known for its distinctive facial markings and elegant flight

White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys):

The White-crowned Sparrow displays a distinctive white crown on its head, setting it apart from other sparrows. A common winter visitor to Wisconsin, it forages for seeds and insects in fields and brushy areas. With its striking black and white facial markings, it adds elegance to the winter landscape.

Scientific NameZonotrichia leucophrys
AppearanceDistinctive white and black striped crown
SizeApproximately 6.5 – 7.9 inches (16.5 – 20 cm) in length
WingspanAround 14 – 26 inches
HabitatBrushy areas, fields, and woodland edges
DietFeeds on seeds, insects, and fruits on the ground
VocalizationMelodic song with clear whistles
Nesting HabitsBuilds cup-shaped nests on or near the ground
BehaviorShy and elusive, frequently seen scratching the ground for food
Interesting FactThe White-crowned Sparrow has different color morphs, varying in the color and pattern of their striped crowns

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 Wisconsin, giving birdwatchers a chance to observe their alluring beauty and fascinating behaviors.

Black and White Birds Found in Pennsylvania
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 wisconsin 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 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

American Robin (Turdus migratorius):

The American Robin is a beloved and iconic bird across North America, including Wisconsin. With its vibrant orange-red breast and bright white belly, it stands out against the greenery of gardens and lawns.

Known for its cheerful song, it heralds the arrival of spring in Texas, a welcome sound after the winter months. This adaptable bird forages for earthworms and insects on the ground, employing its keen eyesight to spot potential prey.

Scientific NameTurdus migratorius
AppearanceVibrant orange-red breast, white belly, and grayish-brown back
SizeApproximately 10 inches (25 cm) in length
HabitatWoodlands, gardens, and open areas
RangeFound across North America, including Texas
DietForages for earthworms, insects, and berries on the ground
VocalizationMelodious song often heard during the spring
Nesting HabitsBuilds cup-shaped nests in trees and shrubs
BehaviorMigratory in some regions, forming large flocks during winter
Interesting FactThe American Robin is considered a symbol of hope and renewal

American Avocet:

A stunning shorebird with eye-catching black and white plumage and a recognizable upward-curved bill is the American Avocet.

These thin-legged waders can frequently be seen hunting for aquatic insects, crustaceans, and tiny fish in shallow waters. The word “avocet” for this bird is derived from the Italian word “avosetta,” which means “long-necked bird.”

Their attractiveness is increased during the breeding season when their plumage develops a rusty colour. The stunning courtship displays that American Avocets put on during which they perform complex mating dances are well-known.

Scientific NameRecurvirostra americana
AppearanceLong, upturned bill; black and white plumage
SizeApproximately 16 – 20 inches (41 – 51 cm) in length
WingspanAround 27 – 30 inches (69 – 76 cm)
HabitatShallow wetlands, salt pans, and mudflats
DietInsects, crustaceans, and aquatic invertebrates
VocalizationHigh-pitched “kleet” or “kleep” calls
Nesting HabitsNests are shallow depressions in open areas
BehaviorWades in shallow water, sweeps bill side to side to find food, migratory
Interesting FactAmerican Avocets are known for their unique foraging behavior where they use their specialized bill to sweep side to side in shallow water to capture prey.


The variety of birds in Wisconsin is evidence of the state’s rich natural heritage. The black and white birds possess a special attraction among the many bird species that adorn its landscapes because of their striking contrast in color and distinctive features.

Each bird lends its own appeal to the area, from the charming black-capped chickadee to the majestic snowy owl, making birdwatching a wonderfully enjoyable activity.

Let’s keep in mind the value of conservation and protecting their habitats so that future generations can enjoy them while we explore the great outdoors to see these magnificent species in their natural settings.

Also Read: 10 Types of Black and White Birds Found in Brisbane

20 Types of Black and White Birds Found in Belgium

Are all black and white birds found in Wisconsin year-round residents?

While some black and white birds, like the black-capped chickadee, are year-round residents in Wisconsin, others, such as the snowy owl, are migratory and only visit during specific seasons.

Where is the best place to spot black and white birds in Wisconsin?

Black and white birds can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, wetlands, lakeshores, and grasslands. The Horicon Marsh and the shores of Lake Michigan are popular birdwatching spots.

What is the significance of black and white plumage in birds?

The black and white coloration in birds can serve various purposes, including camouflage, communication, and mate attraction. It also helps them blend into their environments and aids in thermoregulation.

Do black and white birds have any unique behaviors?

Yes, black and white birds exhibit a wide range of behaviors, from the diving antics of the black guillemot to the skillful skimming of the black skimmer’s bill along the water’s surface.

Are black and white birds endangered or threatened in Wisconsin?

While some species may face threats due to habitat loss and other factors, many black and white bird species in Wisconsin are relatively stable. However, continued conservation efforts are essential to protect their populations.

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