11 Small Black Bird With White Tail Feathers - Complete Guide

Hammad Tariq

· 12 min read
Small Black Bird With White Tail Feathers

When it comes to the avian world, the diversity of species often surprises us with their unique features and characteristics. Among them, the small black bird with white tail feathers stands out as an intriguing subject of study and observation.

These birds, with their distinct coloration and behaviors, captivate birdwatchers and enthusiasts alike. In this exploration, we delve into the world of these charming creatures, unraveling their identity, habitat, and significance in the natural ecosystem. Join us on a journey to discover more about these enigmatic birds and the fascinating role they play in the tapestry of wildlife.

11 Small Black Bird with White tail Feathers:

Eastern Towhee

The Eastern Towhee, scientifically known as Pipilo erythrophthalmus, is a small black bird with striking white tail feathers. Native to North America, these birds are commonly found in brushy areas, woodlands, and thickets across the eastern United States.

Measuring around 7 to 9 inches in length, Eastern Towhees have a distinctive black hood and upperparts, contrasted by their bright white belly. Their wings are black with white spots, and their tail feathers are white, often flashing conspicuously in flight.

Eastern Towhees are primarily ground-dwelling birds, foraging for insects, seeds, and berries on the forest floor. Their diet consists of a variety of food items, including beetles, grasshoppers, acorns, and fruits.

Spotted Towhee

The Spotted Towhee, scientifically known as Pipilo maculatus, is a small black bird with distinctive white spots and a flash of white on its tail feathers. Found primarily in western North America, from Canada to Mexico, these birds inhabit a variety of habitats, including forests, chaparral, and shrubby areas.

Measuring around 7 to 9 inches in length, Spotted Towhees have a black hood and upperparts, with white spots on their wings and back. Their wings also feature prominent rust-colored patches. The most striking feature of the Spotted Towhee is its white-spotted wings and sides, contrasting sharply against its dark plumage.

Spotted Towhees are ground-foragers, feeding on a diverse diet of insects, seeds, fruits, and berries. They use their powerful bills to scratch through leaf litter in search of food, often turning over debris with quick, jerky movements.

Dark-eyed Junco

The Dark-eyed Junco, scientifically known as Junco hyemalis, is a small black bird often recognized by its white outer tail feathers. Found throughout North America, including Ohio and other parts of the United States, these birds are particularly common in winter months when they migrate southward.

Measuring around 5 to 6 inches in length, Dark-eyed Juncos exhibit significant color variation across their range. While the most familiar form has a dark gray hood and upperparts, lighter forms with brown or even reddish-brown backs can also be found. However, they all share the characteristic white outer tail feathers, which are especially visible during flight.

Dark-eyed Juncos are ground-dwelling birds, often foraging for seeds, insects, and small fruits on the forest floor or beneath feeders. Their diet varies depending on the season and availability of food, with seeds being a staple food source, especially during the winter months.

White-crowned Sparrow

The White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) is a small black bird with distinct white crown stripes and a notable white throat. It's a migratory bird found across North America, including regions like Ohio, especially during the winter months.

Measuring about 6 to 7 inches in length, these sparrows have a striking appearance with a black bib on their chest and grayish-brown plumage on their back. However, their most distinguishing feature is the bold white stripes on their crown, which give them their name.

White-crowned Sparrows primarily forage on the ground, feeding on seeds, insects, and small fruits. They are often found in a variety of habitats, including brushy areas, woodlands, and suburban gardens, where they can find suitable food and cover.

Willow Ptarmigan

The Willow Ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus) is a bird species belonging to the grouse family, known for its remarkable ability to blend into its snowy surroundings during the winter months. Found across northern regions, including parts of Canada and Alaska, the Willow Ptarmigan is a master of camouflage, with its plumage changing color to match the seasonal landscape.

During the summer breeding season, male Willow Ptarmigans sport a striking combination of white and brown plumage with black markings, while females have more subdued brownish tones to help them blend into their surroundings. In winter, both males and females develop a pure white plumage, providing effective camouflage against the snow.

These birds inhabit a variety of habitats, including tundra, alpine meadows, and boreal forests, where they forage on a diet of buds, leaves, berries, and insects. Willow Ptarmigans are well-adapted to cold environments, with specialized features such as feathered feet to help them navigate through snow and ice.

Black Phoebe

The Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans) is a small, insectivorous bird native to western North America, including parts of California and the southwestern United States. It belongs to the flycatcher family and is characterized by its sleek black plumage and contrasting white underparts.

This bird is often found near water bodies such as streams, ponds, and wetlands, where it perches on low branches or rocks, waiting patiently to catch its prey. True to its name, the Black Phoebe is an adept flycatcher, darting out to capture flying insects mid-air before returning to its perch.

One of the distinctive behaviors of the Black Phoebe is its habit of constantly wagging its tail up and down while perched. This tail-wagging motion is believed to help flush out insects and make them easier to catch.

Pin-tailed Whydah

The Pin-tailed Whydah (Vidua macroura) is a small, striking bird native to sub-Saharan Africa. It is a member of the finch family and is known for its distinctive breeding plumage and elaborate courtship displays.

Male Pin-tailed Whydahs are easily recognizable by their long, black tail feathers, which extend far beyond the length of their bodies. During the breeding season, males also develop striking black plumage with white markings on their wings and belly, contrasting with their bright red bills and legs.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Pin-tailed Whydah's behavior is its breeding strategy. Unlike many birds, which build their own nests and raise their own young, male Pin-tailed Whydahs are brood parasites. They seek out the nests of other bird species, particularly waxbills and firefinches, and deposit their eggs among those of the host bird.


The Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) is a small migratory bird that belongs to the blackbird family. It is known for its unique appearance and distinctive song, making it a delight to birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.

During the breeding season, male Bobolinks display striking black and white plumage with a buff-colored patch on their backs. This contrast in colors gives them a dapper appearance. In contrast, females and juveniles are more subdued in appearance, sporting brown and buff streaked feathers.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Bobolink's behavior is its long-distance migration. These birds breed in North America, primarily in the northern United States and southern Canada, and migrate to their wintering grounds in South America, particularly Argentina and Brazil.

Bobolinks inhabit a variety of grassland habitats, including meadows, prairies, and hayfields. They forage on the ground for seeds and insects, using their stout bills to crack open seeds and capture small insects.

Northern Mockingbird

The Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) is a charismatic songbird renowned for its remarkable vocal abilities and distinct appearance. Found throughout much of North America, including Ohio, this bird is a familiar sight in suburban neighborhoods, parks, and open woodlands.

Measuring about 9 inches in length, the Northern Mockingbird has a sleek gray plumage with white patches on its wings and tail. Its long tail and slender body give it a graceful appearance, while its bold white wing patches are visible in flight.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Northern Mockingbird is its ability to mimic the songs of other birds and various environmental sounds, including car alarms and cell phone ringtones. Males are particularly known for their extensive repertoire, which can include over 200 different song types.

Loggerhead Shrike

The Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) is a small but formidable bird of prey known for its unique hunting behavior and distinctive appearance. Found in various habitats across North America, including Ohio, these birds are often referred to as "butcher birds" due to their habit of impaling prey on thorns or barbed wire.

Measuring about 9 inches in length, the Loggerhead Shrike has a compact body with gray plumage on its back and wings, a white underside, and a black mask that extends across its eyes. Its hooked beak and strong talons are well-suited for capturing and dispatching prey.

Despite being classified as songbirds, Loggerhead Shrikes have predatory habits more commonly associated with raptors. They feed primarily on insects, small birds, rodents, and reptiles, which they capture by pouncing from a perch or swooping down from the air.

Black-and-white Warbler

The Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia) is a striking bird with bold black-and-white plumage, making it easily identifiable in its habitat. Found in various forested areas, including Ohio, these warblers are known for their distinctive foraging behavior and unique breeding habits.

Measuring about 5 inches in length, the Black-and-white Warbler has a slender body with a long, slightly curved bill and a tail that it habitually flicks while foraging. Its black-and-white streaked plumage provides excellent camouflage against tree bark, where it forages for insects and spiders.

Unlike many warbler species that primarily forage in the canopy, the Black-and-white Warbler often descends to lower branches and even tree trunks in search of prey. It uses its slender bill to probe crevices and under bark for insects, exhibiting behavior more akin to a nuthatch than a typical warbler.


In conclusion, Ohio is home to a diverse array of small black birds with white tail feathers, each contributing to the region's rich avian biodiversity. From the vibrant American Redstart to the elegant Loggerhead Shrike, these birds exhibit unique behaviors, habitats, and plumage patterns.

They play essential roles in their ecosystems as insectivores, seed dispersers, and indicators of environmental health. Understanding and appreciating the presence of these birds in Ohio's natural landscapes underscores the importance of conservation efforts to protect their habitats and ensure their continued survival for future generations to admire and enjoy.

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About Hammad Tariq

Hammad Tariq, the passionate founder and author of HappiestBeaks, is a dedicated bird enthusiast, caretaker, and lover. With a deep-seated affection for avian companions, he channels his expertise into crafting insightful and informative blogs on bird care and behavior.