From its prairie lands to the snowy peaks, Colorado has over 400 types of birds. Some impress with their colorful plumage. Others are black and white, with or without additional splashes of color.
From all possible species, the black and white birds in Colorado listed below are easy to spot across the Centennial State:
- Hairy woodpecker
- Black phoebe
- European starling
- Clark’s grebe
- Northern shrike
- Black-capped chickadee
- Black-billed magpie
- Red-bellied woodpecker
- Common goldeneye
- Northern goshawk
- White-breasted nuthatch
- Belted kingfisher
- Lark bunting
- Red-tailed hawk
- Bonaparte’s gull
- Mississippi kite
- Mountain chickadee
- Black-necked stilt
- Clark’s nutcracker
- Western grebe
- Snow bunting
Note: This is not an exhaustive list, and the species are ranked in no particular order.
1. Hairy Woodpecker
Scientific name: Leuconotopicus villosus
One of the most beautiful white birds with black wings in Colorado, the hairy woodpecker is commonly found in mature forests, swamps, orchards, and even suburban backyards.
The bird has a pure white body with black streaks and a red mark on the head that splits in two. Its wings are black with white spots, and the tail is completely white.
Another woodpecker type that looks almost identical and that can be found in Colorado is the downy woodpecker.
The main difference between the two is the absence of black marks on the hairy woodpecker’s outer tail feathers and a red mark that doesn’t split in two on the downy woodpecker’s head. Hairy woodpeckers are also larger.
2. Black Phoebe
Scientific name: Sayornis nigricans
A small tyrant flycatcher, the black phoebe is one of the most common black and white birds in Colorado – and of most other areas in North America.
This seven-inch bird has black upper parts, including a black head and chest. Its back is also black, while the rump and belly are white.
Black phoebes are typically found in open-land habitats, including wetlands, city parks, and agricultural areas.
3. European Starling
Scientific name: Sturnus vulgaris
A black bird with white spots in Colorado, the European starling is one of the most abundant species in the state.
It is found in a variety of habitats, ranging from woodlands to urban and suburban areas. Where it lives near human settlements, the starling can nest in attics or under roof tiles, and is often perceived as a nuisance.
Despite this, European starlings are appreciated for their colorful plumage – the iridescent black often looks blue or green in bright light.
4. Clark’s Grebe
Scientific name: Aechmophorus clarkii
Clark’s grebe is a species of black and white waterbirds in Colorado, where it is found in large bodies of open water, including ponds, lakes, and reservoirs.
These grebes live in colonies and are characterized by a pure black cap and black plumage on the neck. The dark color is more diluted on the back, the bird having a blotchy appearance.
The undersides are pure white, while the beak is bright yellow and the eyes are orange.
5. Northern Shrike
Scientific name: Lanius excubitor
One of the largest songbirds in the shrike family, northern shrikes are among the mostly white bird species in Colorado.
This migratory bird typically breeds in southern Canada, and only spends time in the lower 48 states in winter.
As mentioned, this bird appears to be largely white. However, the plumage on its back is actually a faint gray.
The undersides are pure white, while the wings and tail are black with white marks. Black marks also surround the eyes.
This bird is typically found in areas where the trees are scattered, leaving open patches in the landscape.
6. Black-Capped Chickadee
Scientific name: Poecile atricapillus
A bird similar to the northern shrike, the black-capped chickadee is a small black and white songbird named for its back cap of feathers.
The bird also has a black chin, even though its cheeks are white. The plumage is white on the undersides and gray on the back, with a white stripe at the back of the neck.
This small non-migratory bird is found in deciduous and mixed forests, woodlands, and cottonwood groves.
7. Black-Billed Magpie
Scientific name: Pica hudsonia
Also known as the American magpie, the black-billed magpie is one of the most common black and white birds in Colorado and the western part of North America.
It prefers open habitats with clusters of trees, but it is also found in farmlands and suburban areas.
This mid-sized corvid is about 24 inches long with iridescent black plumage on the head, wings, and tail. The rest of the body is white, while the black portions can acquire a blue hue in sunlight.
Males and females are similar in appearance, but the females are smaller.
8. Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Scientific name: Melanerpes carolinus
Another woodpecker type, the red-bellied woodpecker is a small black and white bird in Colorado.
This small bird is largely white with a beautiful chevron-like pattern on the wings. Males have a red head and faint red streaks on the belly.
Females have a gray cap and are generally duller in color.
Red-bellied woodpeckers are common in wetlands, woodlands, and suburban areas all over the eastern side of the continental USA.
9. Common Goldeneye
Scientific name: Bucephala clangula
An almost exclusively boreal breeder, the common goldeneye is a black and white duck in Colorado in the winter time.
This small-sized duck grows up to 20 inches long, even though females are usually smaller.
Adult males have white bodies with a black back and black head with a greenish gloss. The bright yellow eyes give the name to this species. Females are typically duller.
10. Northern Goshawk
Scientific name: Accipiter gentilis
A black and white raptor in Colorado, the northern goshawk is a medium-large bird of prey known for its striped black and white undersides.
However, the chevron-like chest and belly are not the only black and white characteristics. This goshawk also has a black cap and white stripes on the head, while the adult plumage is slate-black on the back.
The beak blends in the plumage color, while the bright yellow-orange eyes provide a striking contrast.
Northern goshawks are widespread across northeastern US, and are mainly found in hardwood deciduous or coniferous forests.
11. White-Breasted Nuthatch
Scientific name: Sitta carolinensis
A common black and white perching bird in Colorado and across North America, the white-breasted nuthatch is one of the smallest passerines.
Adults rarely grow longer than five inches, and they only weigh around 20 ounces.
Despite the small size, this nuthatch is known for its gorgeous plumage and long bills that are nearly as long as their heads.
Color-wise, these birds have black crowns, white cheeks, and white undersides. The wings and feet are a slate gray with black stripes and white feather tips.
Males and females have similar colors, but females are slightly duller. White-breasted nuthatches are found in mixed or deciduous forests.
12. Belted Kingfisher
Scientific name: Megaceryle alcyon
One of the funniest looking birds, the belted kingfisher is a gray rather than black and white kingfisher in Colorado. Nevertheless, some adults have darker plumage and they could appear blackish.
A peculiarity about this bird is that females are more colorful than males. They have bluish-gray plumage on the upper parts and a fancy crest. The undersides are white, and a reddish brown belt circles their bellies.
Males are similarly colored, but they don’t have a belt. Both males and females have black streaks on the feathers and black beaks.
With an extensive range that spreads all over North America, the belted kingfisher is a common dweller in all wetland areas, including lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams.
13. Lark Bunting
Scientific name: Calamospiza melanocorys
An almost all black bird with thin white stripes, the lark bunting is the designated state bird of Colorado since 1931.
This mid-sized sparrow is typically found near open grounds, including urban and suburban areas, agricultural fields, farms, and orchards.
It has a charcoal black body that looks almost velvety. The white beak matches the white stripes on the wings. Females are duller, typically a light brown with black strikes.
14. Red-Tailed Hawk
Scientific name: Buteo jamaicensis
Adult red-tailed hawks aren’t black; yet, this raptor is one of the black and white birds of prey in Colorado in its juvenile stage.
This raptor breeds throughout North America, its range expanding well into Central and South America.
Adults are reddish-brown blotched with white, but juveniles are a lot darker. Their plumage varies from dark brown to black on the back and is lighter on the undersides.
Differences in color can also be observed in adults, some of them appearing almost black.
15. Bonaparte’s Gull
Scientific name: Chroicocephalus philadelphia
Gulls are typically associated with oceans, seas, and coastal areas.
Nevertheless, the Bonaparte’s gull is a small black and white gull in Colorado – even if it only passes through the state as it migrates from the breeding sites in Alaska and Canada to the wintering areas on the East Coast.
These birds have charcoal-black heads that provide a strong contrast with the pure white plumage on the neck and chest. The upper parts are light to dark gray.
Bonaparte’s gull typically lives in coastal areas and breeds in Alaska. Yet, as the only gull species that regularly nests in trees, it can be spotted in inland areas during migration.
16. Mississippi Kite
Scientific name: Ictinia mississippiensis
Smaller than other raptors in Colorado, the Mississippi kite is another common black and white bird in Colorado.
This kite is about the size of a peregrine falcon and is migratory. They spend their summers and breed in North America, sometimes as far north as Connecticut. Wintering happens in Central and South America.
These kites have white heads that turn to gray and black on the body and tail. The underside is lighter, usually a pale gray. They are typically found in mature bottomland forests or open habitats, near agricultural fields and pastures.
17. Mountain Chickadee
Scientific name: Poecile gambeli
A common black and white songbird in North America, the mountain chickadee is very similar in size and color to the black-capped chickadee.
The main difference between these two species is the darker plumage on the chest mountain chickadees have.
In fact, instead of pure white plumage, they often have tan or cream patches that can cover the ramp and belly.
18. Black-Necked Stilt
Scientific name: Himantopus mexicanus
Black and white wading birds aren’t very common in Colorado, but the black-necked stilt is an exception. This bird is an abundant shorebird species that can be found in numerous wetlands and coastal areas across North America.
The stilt looks similar to an egret, but it has a shorter neck. It also has black upper sides. However, the undersides are pure white.
The black beak is long, but a lot shorter compared to that of egrets. A similarity are the long legs which are dark pink or red.
19. Clark’s Nutcracker
Scientific name: Nucifraga Columbiana
A member of the corvid family, Clark’s nutcrackers are black and white crow-like birds of Colorado mountains.
They are typically found in open subalpine areas, even though their presence is also noticeable at lower altitudes in woodlands or suburban habitats, as long as there are sufficient pine trees around – these birds feed mostly on pine nuts.
Clark’s nutcrackers have off-white to gray bodies and black wings. The beaks are black, as well as the legs and feet. During flight, the wings and tail show white patches along the trailing edges. Males and females have similar colors.
20. Western Grebe
Scientific name: Aechmophorus occidentalis
A small bird in the water birds’ family, the western grebe is another type of black and white waterfowl in Colorado.
This water bird is similar to a miniature swan due to its long neck. The colors are similar to the Clark’s grebe – black on the head and neck, speckled brown-black on the back, and white undersides.
Typically living in flocks, the western grebe is found in wetlands, river areas, or near streams, ponds, and lakes.
21. Snow Bunting
Scientific name: Plectrophenax nivalis
One of the most common birds in Colorado, the snow bunting is another example of small passerine birds with black and white plumage in the Centennial State.
Snow buntings aren’t found in Colorado all year round. In fact, this bird only lives in the northern to central United States during winter. It spends its summer in the near-arctic regions of Canada and Alaska, where it typically breeds.
Like many animals in the arctic region, snow buntings are white and have black patches on the upper side. In Colorado, where they winter, snow buntings are typically found in prairies, fields, or agricultural areas.