7 amazing small black birds in Florida

In the sunny state of Florida, a captivating avian symphony fills the air as a flock of small black birds takes centre stage. Their sleek feathers glisten under the warm rays of the Sunshine State, lending an aura of mystery to their presence. These enchanting creatures, each with its own unique charm, captivate the hearts of bird enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. 

Join me on a delightful journey as we explore the diverse world of seven small black birds that grace the vibrant landscapes of Florida. From their mesmerizing melodies to their intricate behaviours, these avian wonders are sure to leave you spellbound, inviting you into the captivating realm of the feathered residents of the Sunshine State. So, let us spread our wings and embark on a fascinating adventure, discovering the secrets and marvels of these remarkable small black birds of Florida. 

Here are some best practices and tips to enhance your observation skills and make the most of your encounters:

  • Research and identify the species: Before setting out on your bird-watching adventure, familiarize you with the seven small black bird species you wish to observe. Learn about their distinct characteristics, habitats, and behaviors. This knowledge will help you identify them more easily in the field.
  • Choose the right location: Florida offers a diverse range of habitats, from wetlands to forests and coastal areas, each hosting different bird species. Research the specific regions known for hosting the small black birds you are interested in and plan your visits accordingly.
  • Be patient and observant: Observing birds requires patience and keen observation skills. Find a comfortable spot with a clear view of their habitat, and be prepared to wait quietly for their appearance. Birds can be shy and may take some time to show themselves, so a patient approach is essential.
  • Bring the right equipment: Equip yourself with a good pair of binoculars to enhance your ability to see small details and observe birds from a distance without disturbing them. Consider using a field guide or a birding app on your smartphone to aid in species identification.
  • Study their behavior: Take note of the behaviour patterns of the small black birds you encounter. Observe their feeding habits, flight patterns, vocalizations, and interactions with other birds. This will deepen your understanding of their ecology and add to the richness of your observations.
  • Respect their space: While observing birds, it is crucial to prioritize their well-being. Maintain a safe distance and avoid disturbing their natural behaviors or nesting sites. Do not attempt to approach them too closely or make sudden movements that might startle or frighten them.
  • Time your visits strategically: Birds tend to be more active during specific times of the day. Early mornings and late afternoons are often the best times to observe birds when they are most active and vocal. Consider the season as well, as migratory patterns and breeding seasons can impact bird behaviour and presence.
  • Record your observations: Keep a field journal or use a birding app to document your sightings. Note down important details such as date, time, location, behaviour, and any unique observations. This will not only help you track your progress but also contribute valuable data to citizen science projects.
  • Join bird-watching communities: Engaging with local bird-watching communities and organizations can provide opportunities to learn from experienced birders, participate in group outings, and gain valuable insights into the small black birds of Florida. Sharing your experiences with fellow enthusiasts can add to the joy of bird-watching.

Best 7 amazing small black bird in Florida:

  1. Rusty Blackbird
  2. Eastern Towhee
  3. Shiny Cowbird
  4. Brewer’s Blackbird
  5. Black and White Warbler
  6. Blackburnian Warbler
  7. American Redstart

1. Rusty Blackbird

Scientific name: Euphagus carolinus

Size: It is about the size of an American Robin, measuring 8.5-9.8 inches (22-25 cm) in length and weighing 60 grams (2.1 ounces).

how to identify: The male rusty blackbird is glossy black in summer, with a purple and green sheen. In winter, the male’s feathers become duller and acquire rusty brown edges. The male also has pale yellow eyes and buff eyebrows.  The female rusty blackbird is gray-brown with rusty brown edges to her feathers. She also has a darker colour around the eye and a lighter streak above.

Habitat: 

  • Swamps: Rusty blackbirds are often found in swamps, especially those with open water and abundant emergent vegetation.
  • Marshes: Marshes are another good habitat for rusty blackbirds. They prefer marshes that have a mix of open water, emergent vegetation, and shrubs.
  • River edges: Rusty blackbirds can also be found along river edges. They prefer rivers that have a mix of open water, mudflats, and wooded areas.
  • Wooded areas: Rusty blackbirds will sometimes venture into wooded areas, especially those that are near water. They prefer wooded areas that have a mix of mature trees, shrubs, and open areas.

Diet: Rusty blackbirds are opportunistic feeders, which mean that they will eat whatever is available. They are especially fond of feeding in wet areas, such as swamps and marshes. They will often wade in the water to find insects and small animals.

Lifespan: The lifespan of a rusty blackbird in Florida is typically 8 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of a rusty blackbird in Florida is typically 14 inches (36 cm).

Calls: The rusty blackbird has a distinctive call that is often described as a “creaking hinge” or a “rusty creak.” The call is a series of two or three lower notes followed by a high-pitched whistle and creak. The call is often given in flight or when the bird is perched.

Seasons: Rusty blackbirds are migratory birds, and they can be seen in Florida during the winter months. They typically arrive in Florida in October and stay until April. The best time to see rusty blackbirds in Florida is during the winter months, from December to February.

2. Eastern Towhee

Scientific name: Pipilo erythrophthalmus

Size: The Eastern Towhee is a medium-sized bird, measuring 6.8 to 8.2 inches (17.3 to 20.8 cm) in length.

how to identify: The male Eastern Towhee is black with a reddish-brown belly and a white-tipped tail. The eyes are white. The female Eastern Towhee is brown with a greyish belly and a white-tipped tail. The eyes are brown. Juvenile Eastern Towhees are brown with black streaks on the head and back. The belly is greyish with a white throat. The eyes are brown.

Habitat:

Woodlands: Eastern Towhees are often found in woodlands, including forests, thickets, and brushy areas. They prefer areas with dense undergrowth, where they can find food and shelter.

Edges: Eastern Towhees are often found at the edges of habitats, such as the edges of forests, fields, and wetlands. These areas provide a mix of food sources and shelter, making them ideal for Eastern Towhees.

Diet: The Eastern Towhee’s diet varies depending on the season. In the spring and summer, they eat more insects, while in the fall and winter; they eat more seeds and berries.

Lifespan: The lifespan of an Eastern Towhee in Florida is typically 10-12 years,

Wingspan: The wingspan of an Eastern Towhee, a small black bird in Florida, is typically 7.9-11.0 inches (20-28 cm).

Calls: The Eastern Towhee is a small black bird in Florida that is known for its distinctive calls. The most common call is a loud, clear “drink your tee!” This call is often given by males to defend their territory. Other common calls include a sharp “chip” and a descending “chewink.”

Seasons: 

Season Description

Breeding March to August; more vocal and active; males develop bright red eye

Non-breeding September to February; less vocal and active; males molt breeding plumage; birds gather in flocks

Migration October to March; some individuals may stay in Florida year-round

3. Shiny Cowbird

Scientific name: Molothrus aeneus

Size: The shiny cowbird is a small black bird that is found in Florida. It is about 7.1 inches (18 cm) long and weighs 1.1-1.4 ounces (31-40 g).

how to identify: The male shiny cowbird is glossy black with a greenish sheen. It has a long, pointed bill and a blue-gray head and neck.  The female shiny cowbird is brown overall, with a darker head and neck. She has a shorter bill than the male.  Juvenile shiny cowbirds are similar in appearance to the female, but they have a duller plumage

Habitat:

Open woodlands: These include pine forests, oak forests, and other types of woodland with a lot of open space.

Fields: These include agricultural fields, pastures, and other areas where crops are grown.

Marshes: These include freshwater marshes, saltwater marshes, and other areas where there is a lot of water.

Diet: The shiny cowbird is an omnivorous bird, and its diet consists of a variety of foods, including:

  • Insects: Insects are the most important part of the shiny cowbird’s diet. They eat a wide variety of insects, including beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and flies.
  • Seeds: Shiny cowbirds also eat a variety of seeds, including those of grasses, weeds, and fruits.
  • Fruit: Shiny cowbirds will also eat fruit, especially berries and other small fruits.
  • Invertebrates: Shiny cowbirds will also eat other invertebrates, such as spiders, snails, and worms.

Lifespan: The lifespan of a shiny cowbird in Florida is typically 3-4 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of a shiny cowbird in Florida is typically 8.6 inches (21.8 cm).

Calls: The shiny cowbird is a noisy bird, and it makes a variety of calls. The most common calls are:

  • A rapid rattle: This call is often used as a contact call between individuals.
  • A high, wavering whistle: This call is often used to attract mates.
  • A low chuk: This call is often used as a warning call.

Seasons: they are most common in the southern part of the state, and their breeding season typically runs from October to January.

4. Brewer’s Blackbird

Scientific name: Euphagus cyanocephalus.

Size: The Brewer’s blackbird is a medium-sized blackbird, measuring 8-10.3 inches (20-26 centimetres) in length.

how to identify: The male Brewer’s blackbird is glossy black all over, with a bright yellow eye and a blue sheen on the head grading to greenish iridescence on the body. The wings and tail are slightly darker than the body. The female Brewer’s blackbird is brown, darkest on the wings and tail, with a dark eye. She is slightly smaller than the male.  Immature Brewer’s blackbirds look like washed out, lighter-brown versions of the females. They have brown eyes and their plumage is not as glossy as that of the adults.

Habitat: 

  • Fields: The Brewer’s blackbird is a common sight in fields, where it forages for insects and seeds.
  • Meadows: Brewer’s blackbirds also frequent meadows, where they can be seen feeding on insects and berries.
  • Parks: These birds are also found in parks, where they can be seen feeding on the ground or perched on trees.
  • Golf courses: Brewer’s blackbirds are also attracted to golf courses, where they can find a variety of food sources.
  • Marshes: These birds can also be found in marshes, where they feed on insects and small fish.

Diet: The Brewer’s blackbird is an omnivore, and its diet consists of insects, seeds, and berries.

Lifespan: The lifespan of a Brewer’s Blackbird is typically 12 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of a Brewer’s Blackbird is typically 15.5 inches (390 mm).

Calls: Here are some of the other calls that Brewer’s blackbirds make:

  • Alarm call: A loud, raucous “chuck” or “tchup” sound, often used to warn of danger.
  • Contact call: A softer “churr” or “churr-churr” sound often used to keep in touch with other birds.
  • Song: A complex song that includes whistles, trills, and clicks, often sung by males during the breeding season.
  • Begging call: A high-pitched “peep” or “peep-peep” sound often made by young birds begging for food.

Seasons: Brewer’s blackbirds are winter residents in Florida. They typically arrive in the state in September or October, and they leave in April or May.

5. Black and White Warbler

Scientific name: Mniotilta varia

Size: The black-and-white warbler is a small bird, measuring about 4.3-5.1 inches (11-13 cm) in length and weighing about 8-15 grams (0.3-0.5 oz.).

how to identify: The male Black-and-White Warbler has a black head, back, and tail, with a white throat, breast, and belly. It has a white eye ring and a black throat patch. The female Black-and-White Warbler is similar to the male, but her head and back are brownish-black, and her throat and breast are buffy-white. She does not have a black throat patch. Juvenile Black-and-White Warblers are similar to the female, but they have more streaking on their underpants. They also have a brown eye ring and a buffy throat patch.

Habitat: The Black-and-White Warbler prefers habitats with mature trees, as these provide more insects for food. It is also attracted to areas with dense undergrowth, as this provides cover for nesting.

Diet: The Black-and-White Warbler is an insectivore, and its diet consists mostly of moths, caterpillars, and other small insects.

Lifespan: The lifespan of a Black-and-White Warbler in Florida is typically 3-5 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of a Black-and-White Warbler in Florida is typically 7.1-8.7 inches (18-22 cm).

Calls: The Black-and-White Warbler also has a number of different calls, including:

  • Chit: This is a short, sharp call that is often used to contact other warblers.
  • Pit: This is a lower-pitched call that is often used when the bird is alarmed.
  • Zit: This is a high-pitched call that is often used when the bird is feeding.

Seasons: The Black-and-white Warbler is a small black bird that is a winter visitor to Florida. It arrives in the state as early as mid-August and stays until early April.

6. Blackburnian Warbler

Scientific name: Setophaga fusca.

Size: The Blackburnian Warbler is a small bird, measuring about 11 to 13 centimetres (4.3 to 5.1 inches) long and weighing 8 to 13 grams (0.28 to 0.46 ounces).

how to identify: The male Blackburnian Warbler has a bright orange throat and face, black upper parts, and yellow underpants. The black cap extends down to the nape, and there is a white eyeing. The wings are black with two white wing bars. The tail is black with white outer feathers. The female Blackburnian Warbler is similar to the male, but the orange on her throat and face is less bright. The black cap does not extend down to the nape, and the white eyeing is less distinct. The wings and tail are also slightly duller than the male’s. Juvenile Blackburnian Warblers are similar to the female, but they have brown upper parts and a buffy throat and face. The black cap is not as well-defined, and the white eyeing is absent. The wings and tail are also brown with a few black markings.

Habitat: The Blackburnian Warbler is a small black bird that is found in Florida during migration. It is a forest bird, and it is found in a variety of habitats, including:

  • Deciduous forests
  • Evergreen forests
  • Mixed forests
  • Edges of forests
  • Parks and gardens

Diet: The Blackburnian Warbler is an insectivore, and its diet consists mostly of caterpillars, beetles, and flies. They also eat some fruits and nectar.

Lifespan: The lifespan of the Blackburnian Warbler is typically 3 to 5 years in the wild.

Wingspan: The wingspan of a Blackburnian Warbler is typically 20 to 22 centimetres (7.9 to 8.7 inches).

Calls: It is known for its distinctive song, which is a series of high-pitched notes that sound like “zip-zip-zip-tititi-TCHEEE.”

Seasons: The Blackburnian Warbler is a migratory bird, and it can be seen in Florida during two seasons: spring and fall.

  • Spring: The Blackburnian Warbler arrives in Florida in late April or early May. They breed in the northern part of the state, in forests and woodlands. The males establish territories and attract mates with their singing. The females build nests in trees, and they lay 4 to 6 eggs. The eggs hatch after about 12 days, and the young birds fledge after about 12 more days. The Blackburnian Warblers leave Florida in late July or early August. They winter in South America.
  • Fall: The Blackburnian Warblers return to Florida in late August or early September. They spend the fall and winter in the southern part of the state, in forests and woodlands. They eat insects and fruits, and they prepare for their spring migration. The Blackburnian Warblers leave Florida in late March or early April.

7. American Redstart

Scientific name: Setophaga ruticilla

Size: The American Redstart is a smallish warbler. It measures 11 to 14 cm (4.3 to 5.5 in) in total length and has a wingspan of 16 to 23 cm (6.3 to 9.1 in).

how to identify: The male American Redstart is mostly black with bright orange patches on the sides, wings, and tail. The belly is white. The female American Redstart is similar, but her orange patches are replaced by yellow or yellow-orange. She also has a gray head and under parts, with olive back and wings and dark-gray tail. Juvenile American Redstarts look similar to females, but they have brown or olive upper parts and a buffy belly.

Habitat: In Florida, they can be found in a variety of habitats, including:

  • Forests: American Redstarts prefer forests with a dense understory, as this provides them with cover from predators and allows them to find food. They are often seen flitting through the trees, searching for insects.
  • Woodlands: American Redstarts can also be found in woodlands, especially those with a variety of trees. They are attracted to woodlands with a mix of deciduous and evergreen trees, as this gives them a wider range of food options.
  • Gardens: American Redstarts are sometimes seen in gardens, especially those with a variety of trees and shrubs. They are attracted to gardens with fruit trees, as these provide them with a food source during the winter.
  • Edges of forests: American Redstarts can also be found on the edges of forests, where they can find a mix of open and wooded areas. They are often seen foraging in the undergrowth, searching for insects.

Diet: The American Redstart is an insectivore, and its diet consists of a variety of insects, including:

  • Caterpillars: Caterpillars are a major food source for American Redstarts. They eat a variety of caterpillars, including those of moths, butterflies, and sawflies.
  • Beetles: American Redstarts also eat a variety of beetles, including leaf beetles, ground beetles, and scarab beetles.
  • Flies: American Redstarts eat a variety of flies, including mosquitoes, gnats, and crane flies.
  • Spiders: American Redstarts also eat spiders and other small invertebrates.

Lifespan: The lifespan of the American Redstart in Florida is typically 5 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of an American Redstart in Florida is typically 16 to 23 cm (6.3 to 9.1 in).

Calls: The American Redstart has a variety of calls, including:

  • Song: The song of the American Redstart is a series of high-pitched notes that are often described as “chewy-chewy-chewy” or “zip-zip-zip.” The song is often repeated several times in a row.
  • Call: The call of the American Redstart is a short, sharp “chip” or “tseep.” The call is often used to communicate with other American Redstarts, such as to attract mates or to warn of danger.
  • Alarm call: The alarm call of the American Redstart is a loud, harsh “tseet” or “tsit.” The alarm call is often used to warn other American Redstarts of danger, such as the presence of a predator.

Seasons:

The American Redstart is a migratory bird, and it can be seen in Florida during two seasons: spring and fall.

  • Spring: American Redstarts arrive in Florida in the spring, typically in April or May. They breed in the state, and their young fledge in June or July.
  • Fall: American Redstarts leave Florida in the fall, typically in August or September. They migrate to South America for the winter.

Frequently asked question (FAQ) – small black birds in Florida

Q: What are the seven small black bird species found in Florida?

A: The seven small black bird species commonly found in Florida are the Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Common Moorhen, Purple Gallinule, and Common Yellowthroat.

Q: Where can I find these small black birds in Florida?

A: These bird species can be found in various habitats across Florida. Wetlands, marshes, swamps, coastal areas, and even suburban parks are good places to spot them. Each species may have its preferred habitat, so researching their specific preferences can help in locating them more effectively.

Q: Are these small black birds migratory?

A: Yes, some of the small black birds in Florida are migratory. The Red-winged Blackbird and Common Grackle are known to migrate to Florida during the winter months, while others like the Boat-tailed Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, and Common Yellowthroat are year-round residents.

Q: What do these small black birds eat?

A: The diet of these birds can vary slightly. Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles primarily feed on insects, seeds, and grains. Boat-tailed Grackles have a varied diet that includes insects, small vertebrates, and even human food scraps. Brown-headed Cowbirds lay their eggs in the nests of other bird species, and their diet consists of seeds and insects. Common Moorhens, Purple Gallinules, and Common Yellowthroats feed on a combination of insects, small aquatic creatures, and plant matter.

Q: How can I identify these small black birds?

A: Identification can be done by paying attention to various characteristics. The Red-winged Blackbird has red shoulder patches, while the Common Grackle has a long tail and a distinctive keel-shaped tail. Boat-tailed Grackles are known for their iridescent feathers and long tails. Brown-headed Cowbirds have brown heads and a stocky build. Common Moorhens have a red and yellow beak, and Purple Gallinules are vibrant with purple and blue plumage. The Common Yellowthroat has a black mask on its face and a yellow throat.

Q: Can I attract these small black birds to my backyard?

A: Yes, it is possible to attract some of these species to your backyard by providing suitable food and habitat. Planting native shrubs and trees, offering bird feeders with seeds and grains, and having a water source like a birdbath can help attract these birds.

Q: Are these small black birds beneficial to the environment?

A: Yes, these birds play important roles in their respective ecosystems. They contribute to insect control by feeding on pests and help disperse seeds, aiding in plant propagation. Additionally, some species, like the Common Moorhen and Purple Gallinule, are indicators of wetland health, making them important for monitoring ecosystem well-being.

Q: Can I contribute to scientific research by observing these small black birds?

A: Absolutely! Your observations can be valuable contributions to citizen science projects and bird monitoring efforts. Consider reporting your sightings to local birding organizations or online platforms dedicated to bird data collection.

Q: Are there any threats to these small black bird species in Florida?

A: These bird species face various threats, including habitat loss due to urbanization and agriculture, as well as pollution of wetlands and water bodies. Climate change and invasive species can also pose challenges to their populations. Conservation efforts, habitat preservation, and raising awareness about their importance are crucial for their long-term survival.

Q: Are there any organized bird-watching events or tours focused on these small black birds in Florida?

A: Yes, there are bird-watching events and tours organized in Florida that may include sightings of these small black birds. Local birding clubs, nature centres, and wildlife organizations often offer guided tours and activities for enthusiasts.

Conclusion: 

In our exploration, we have learned the importance of patience, keen observation, and respect for the birds and their habitats. We have discovered the value of studying their distinct characteristics and behaviours, which have enriched our understanding of their place in the intricate web of nature. The thrill of identifying each species and documenting our encounters has deepened our connection to the vibrant world of bird-watching.

May the enchantment of these seven small black birds of Florida serve as a constant reminder of the delicate balance of nature and the countless marvels that await us in the world of birds? As we venture forth, let us preserve and protect their habitats, ensuring that future generations can experience the same awe-inspiring moments that we have been fortunate to witness.

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