19 Birds With Black and White Heads

Birds with black and white heads

If you are a bird watcher or just have a keen interest in nature, you have probably noticed some birds with white and black heads. That is to say, birds that flaunt zebra-like striped domes.

However, what’s interesting is that this distinctive pattern is not limited to any one species of bird. You will find it on many different types of winged creatures, including woodpeckers, sparrows, chickadees, and even warblers.

With this, it is only fitting to take a closer look at each bird with a black and white head to see how they differ. This article will cover 19 bird species with black and white heads, so make sure to read to the end!

19 Birds With Black and White Heads

1. Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker with black and white head
Scientific Name:Leuconotopicus villosus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:7.1–10.2 in (18–26 cm)
Weight:1.4–3.4 oz (40–95 g)
Wingspan:13–16.1 in (33–41 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 15 years

At the top of this list is the Hairy Woodpecker, which has a black and white striped head. These medium-sized birds are all-year-round dwellers of North America and some mature deciduous forests of Canada.

It is generally true that Hairy Woodpeckers are among the most elaborately patterned of all birds. For instance, besides their striped heads, their wing shields are adorned with tiny white marks, which gives them a unique look.

You should also note that male Hairy Woodpeckers typically sport a bright red tint atop their heads, adding color to their already fascinating appearances. This feature also categorizes them as one of the birds with red heads.

When it comes to conservation status, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has tagged the Hairy Woodpecker as “Least Concern” on their Red List.

Hence, you can rest assured that these birds with a black and white striped head are safe from extinction, at least for now.

2. Black-capped Chickadee

Black capped Chickadee with black and white head
Scientific Name:Poecile atricapillus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:3.9–5.9 in (10–15 cm)
Weight:0.4–0.5 oz (10–14 g)
Wingspan:5.9–7.9 in (15–20 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 8 years

Probably the tiniest among all the birds with white and black heads included in this list, the Black-capped Chickadee is one songbird you shouldn’t miss out on if you are from the northern parts of the United States.

Generally, Black-capped Chickadees, aside from sporting a black and white striped head — sometimes referred to as cap and bib — have grayish-brown plumage with a white belly. Meanwhile, their tails appear slate gray in hue.

This grayish appearance aptly makes them fall under the group of gray birds.

In addition, nothing beats these birds in terms of their social behavior: they tend to be very expressive but are not vocally communicative. This means they use body language and other cues to express their feelings.

Black-capped Chickadees naturally don’t mind being around humans as well. They are incredibly curious birds that like exploring their surroundings as much as they can.

Check out the following video to get a glimpse at what the Black-capped Chickadee looks like in action:

Black-capped Chickadee

3. Blackpoll Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler with black and white head
Scientific Name:Setophaga striata
Conservation Status:Near Threatened
Length:4.7–5.5 in (12–14 cm)
Weight:0.4–0.5 oz (12–13 g)
Wingspan:8.3–9.1 in (21–23 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 8 years

Considered nature’s hearing test, the Blackpoll Warbler is a migratory songbird that travels from Alaska to South America. They are easily identified by their black-and-white striped head, white chest, and black-lined wings.

However, keep in mind that Blackpoll warblers do not trek alone; they travel in large mixed flocks during their migration seasons. This makes them difficult to spot because they blend in with other birds of similar coloration.

These birds with black and white heads also use tactile communication during mating, raising their young, foraging, and establishing territories — meaning beaks, tails, and wings are all used to send signals to each other.

Still, despite these interesting traits, the Blackpoll Warbler is listed as “Near Threatened” by the IUCN, which may be due to habitat loss, climate change, and illegal trapping for the pet trade.

Therefore, although many birds with black and white striped heads may appear to be having fun, some species are endangered. So, make sure you don’t disturb them if you see them in their natural habitats.

4. White-crowned Sparrow

White crowned Sparrow with black and white head
Scientific Name:Zonotrichia leucophrys
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:6–7 in (15.2–17.8 cm)
Weight:0.9–1.1 oz (25–30 g)
Wingspan:8–9 in (20.3–22.9 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 13 years

The White-crowned Sparrow, with its white-and-black striped crown on top of its head, ivory-colored beak, long tail, and grey chest, is one of the most recognizable birds endemic to Alaska, arctic Canada, and North America.

Additionally, these winged animals typically nest within dense underbrush or brambles. They also like to spend their time in open spaces like fields or meadows where they can find insects like grasshoppers to eat.

Further, they can often be seen feeding on seeds or grains while walking along the ground or hopping across branches. With this in mind, it is evident that bird watchers wouldn’t have to go far to spot this species.

In terms of courtship, female White-crowned Sparrows usually initiate wooing by bowing and exposing their cloacas. Males then respond by displaying their crown feathers while singing loudly.

5. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow bellied Sapsucker with black and white head
Scientific Name:Sphyrapicus varius
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:7.1–8.7 in (18–22 cm)
Weight:1.5–1.9 oz (43–55 g)
Wingspan:13.4–15.7 in (34–40 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 7 years

Often mistaken for the Hairy and Downy Woodpecker, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is a bird with a black and white striped head, red cap, yellow belly, boldly patterned wings, and a straight black bill.

They are also identified under the group of black birds with red heads. To add to that, Yellow-bellied sapsuckers, when compared to their look-alikes, are medium-sized.

In reality, they only measure about 7.1 to 8.7 inches in length, which makes them one of the smallest woodpeckers that can be found in the northeastern United States.

Yet, the most interesting thing about these winged creatures is that they are well-known for being cavity nesters.

They prefer holes in dead trees or snags as their nesting sites; however, they can also use other cavities, such as fence posts or utility poles, if needed.

However, this does not mean that spotting Yellow-bellied sapsuckers is easy, as they tend to stay hidden and like to live at high altitudes — averaging around 6,500 feet above sea level.

I was able to observe Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers myself during one of my trips to eastern Alaska.

What really captured my attention was their unique, rhythmic, and loud drumming – and they are not even on wood! These birds drum even on gutters, metal surfaces. and satellite dishes!

Studying this phenomenon further, I found out that this is their means of making their territories known to potential mates. Their drumming on metal makes the sound louder and fuller, establishing their presence more.

6. White Wagtail

White Wagtail with black and white head
Scientific Name:Motacilla alba
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:6.5–8.3 in (16.5–21 cm)
Weight:0.6–1 oz (18–27 g)
Wingspan:9.8–11.8 in (25–30 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 10 years

As a member of the family Motacillidae, which includes pipits and longclaws, you can anticipate that the White Wagtail has some notable physical features. One of these features is their black and white striped heads.

Moreover, these bird types have a very distinctive high-pitched call that sounds like “zit” or “tscizzic.” This call can be heard year-round in Europe, Asia, and some parts of Britain, northwest Alaska, and North Africa.

Generally speaking, White wagtails will inhabit both urban environments and rural areas. From grasslands and wetlands to ponds and lakeshores, they can be found almost anywhere in their range.

In other words, they are not picky when it comes to living in areas with lots of humans around; they just favor open spaces where there’s plenty of food available.

Concerning their diet, White Wagtails primarily eat insects, spiders, snails, and slugs. That said, it is not uncommon for them to forage on seeds and even household scraps when the need arises.

7. Black-crested Titmouse

Black crested Titmouse with black and white head
Scientific Name:Baeolophus atricristatus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:5.5–6.7 in (14–17 cm)
Weight:0.5–0.7 oz (15–21 g)
Wingspan:9.1–11 in (23–28 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 13 years

With the Black-crested Titmouse’s spiky crest, black and white striped head, and overall gray-colored plumage, it is easy to see why this bird is known as one of the cutest in Texas, Oklahoma, and Mexico.

Having said that, it is worth mentioning that these birds aren’t just limited to their appearance. They are also known for their sweet-sounding songs that can be heard throughout the day.

In times of danger, though, they are known to emit a piercing cry. They do this to warn other birds about an impending threat or predator attack.

On top of that, Black-crested Titmouse birds, as with most winged creatures, are socially monogamous. This means females and males of this species will typically stay with their partners for life.

Also, while they prefer to be in small flocks during migration season, they do not mind being mixed in with other bird breeds, such as sparrows or finches. So, you could say they are pretty friendly as well.

If you want to see more black birds with white wing stripes, just like Black-crested Titmice, you may check out this article.

8. Chestnut-collared Longspur

Chestnut collared Longspur with black and white head
Image credit: budgetbirders / Instagram
Scientific Name:Calcarius ornatus
Conservation Status:Vulnerable
Length:4.3–6.5 in (11–16.5 cm)
Weight:0.6–0.8 oz (18–23 g)
Wingspan:9.8–10.6 in (25–27 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 10 years

Another black and white striped head bird you should know about is the Chestnut-collared Longspur. They are a sparrow-like feathered animal that resides in the grasslands of the southern United States.

Basically, Chestnut-collared Longspurs, unlike sparrows, will be found on the ground instead of high up in trees or bushes. This is because they spend most of their time feeding on caterpillars, seeds, and other small insects.

However, bear in mind that the IUCN has categorized the Chestnut-collared Longspur as “Vulnerable.” Its population is dwindling due to many factors, including habitat loss caused by agricultural activities and climate change.

As such, if you are fortunate enough to stumble upon one of these animals in the wild, it is highly encouraged not to disturb them in any way. Admiring them from afar is always a much better option.

9. Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker with black and white head
Scientific Name:Hylatomus pileatus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:16–19 in (40.6–48.2 cm)
Weight:8.8–12.3 oz (250–350 g)
Wingspan:26–29.5 in (66–75 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 13 years

Coming up is the Pileated Woodpecker, another type of pecker exhibiting black and white stripes on its head.

However, even though these birds’ zebra-like pattern is quite striking as it is, the spiky red crest on top makes them even more eye-catching. Their black body and wing feathers also add to their overall charm.

What’s more, the Pileated Woodpecker is an impressive bird in terms of size. It can grow up to 19 inches long and weigh roughly 12.3 ounces. This makes it larger than most other woodpeckers in the family Picidae.

The good news is that these birds are not only attractive but are also relatively easy to spot. They often spend their time in coniferous and deciduous forests, where they can be seen drilling holes into dead trees.

Still, note that Pileated Woodpeckers are highly territorial. As a matter of fact, a pair will defend their territory all year round against other birds by aggressively attacking them.

Pro Tip: My friend who lives in a nice little suburban town in Florida never had issues with Pileated Woodpeckers drumming into his nice wooden house’s corner pillars until recently.

With my knowledge that these birds prefer to drum into decaying trees, I asked him to check the structural integrity of the pillars.

True enough, aside from age, termites had begun infesting these parts of the house, drawing the Pileated Woodpeckers to this source of food for them.

So, should Pileated Woodpeckers start drumming into your precious wooden houses, you may need to check for possible signs of pest infestation or natural aging of the wooden material.

10. Mountain Chickadee

Mountain Chickadee with black and white head
Scientific Name:Poecile gambeli
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:4.3–5.5 in (11–14 cm)
Weight:0.3–0.4 oz (9–12 g)
Wingspan:5.9–7.9 in (15–20 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 10 years

As adorable as its name suggests, the Mountain Chickadee is a type of bird with a black and white striped head that you’ll probably want to capture on film. They also belong to a broad category of small black and white birds.

They are endemic to the coniferous forests of the mountainous West. Regarding diet, Mountain chickadees generally enjoy big bowls of berries and juicy insects.

They will then nest high up in tree cavities to protect themselves from predators like hawks, Northern Pigmy owls, and shrikes.

With that being said, it is worth noting that they will need the help of peckers to break down the woody parts of their homes. Not unless the specific tree is soft enough for them to chew through it with their beaks.

Furthermore, Mountain Chickadees are typically described by avian fanciers as friendly. They have no problem joining different breeds of birds when it’s time to migrate.

11. White-throated Sparrow

White throated Sparrow with black and white head
Scientific Name:Zonotrichia albicollis
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:6.3–7.1 in (16–18 cm)
Weight:0.8–1.1 oz (22–32 g)
Wingspan:7.9–9.1 in (20–23 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 9.6 years

The White-throated Sparrow is among the most recognizable of sparrows. Their grey nape, black and white striped head, cream-pigmented belly, and white throat make them so unique among their peers.

Apart from that, White-throated Sparrows are known for their habit of flicking their wings while singing and dancing on a tree branch. They are also regarded for their distinctive call, which sounds elegant and lively.

However, nothing beats the sight of White-throated Sparrows in your garden or backyard. Since they are often sociable in nature, they will likely welcome your presence with open wings.

Yet, one should remember that these birds with black and white heads are still wild; hence, do not approach them too closely, as they might fly away at any moment. Make sure to treat them with respect and care as well.

12. Stripe-sided Rhabdornis

Stripe sided Rhabdornis with black and white head
Image credit: ravianshot / Instagram
Scientific Name:Rhabdornis mystacalis
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:5.9–6.9 in (15–17.5 cm)
Weight:0.8–1.1 oz (22.4–31.5 g)
Wingspan:Not available
Lifespan:Not available

The Stripe-sided Rhabdornis, also known as Stripe-headed Rhabdornis or Stripe-headed Creeper, is a passerine bird in the family Sturnidae. They can only be found in Southeast Asia, particularly in the Philippines.

Even though little is known about these species of bird yet, it has been recorded that they can form large flocks and are often seen on the ground. They feed on insects, seeds, and fruits found in grasses and weeds.

Appearance-wise, Stripe-headed Rhabdornises are unique birds with a black and white striped head and brown wings. Their bill will be black-colored and come in a lengthy form when closed up tightly.

Furthermore, Stripe-headed Rhabdornis birds are typically medium in size. While some may weigh around 22 grams, others can reach a maximum weight of more than 31 grams.

13. Black-and-white Warbler

Black and white Warbler
Scientific Name:Mniotilta varia
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:4.3–5.1 in (11–13 cm)
Weight:0.3–0.5 oz (9–15 g)
Wingspan:7.1–8.7 in (18–21.8 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 11 years

If you have been a bird enthusiast for many years, you may know that the Black-and-white Warbler is among the most popular birds in northern South America and northern Canada.

These birds’ heads are black and white striped, making them stand out from their surroundings when perched on a branch or twig.

Further, their wing shields appear with the same zebra-like pattern, adding another layer of interest to this species. These natural colors from head to tail earn them a spot in our list of black and white birds.

However, note that looks are not everything when it comes to bird identification; Black-and-white Warblers are also known for their high-pitched songs.

They sing throughout the year, but especially during mating season. To be specific, though, their song comes in a series of high notes that are repeated over and over again, almost like an echo effect.

14. Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadee with black and white head
Scientific Name:Poecile carolinensis
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:4.5–5.1 in (11.5–13 cm)
Weight:0.3–0.4 oz (8–12 g)
Wingspan:6–8 in (15.2–20.3 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 11.5 years

Since almost all chickadees sport a black-colored bib and cap — also known as a black-and-white striped head — it can be difficult to tell whether or not you’re looking at a Carolina Chickadee. Still, their tail should give you a clue.

Specifically, Carolina chickadees will maintain tails that are somewhat long and slim. The colors will vary from one Carolina Chickadee to another but should appear pale gray with dark blue barring.

To add to that, these birds have necks that are short and plump, while their bills tend to be blunt and tiny. Their striking white cheeks should also help distinguish them from other types of chickadees.

Still, it is worth noting that the Carolina Chickadee’s appearance is just the tip of the iceberg. Surprisingly, they have been observed starting aerial and ground fights with other species of birds.

Such fights can be quite violent and involve physical contact. In fact, even numerous screeching calls can be heard during conflicts.

15. Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow with black and white head
Scientific Name:Spizella passerina
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:5–6 in (12.7–15.2 cm)
Weight:0.4–0.5 oz (11–15.5 g)
Wingspan:8–9 in (20.3–22.9 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 9.8 years

While the Chipping Sparrow’s black and white stripes on its head might not be as bold as its brown crown, it is still a beautiful avian that should be added to your birdwatching list.

This bird type typically breeds in the dense vegetation of North America, so if you live in an area with breezy spaces, then chances are good that you can see this species at some point during the year.

You may even spot a flock of Chipping sparrows in parks, roadsides, and backyards, where they enjoy singing their hearts out while flitting around on the ground or up in trees.

In addition, Chipping Sparrows have been known to make friends with other birds. They often don’t have a problem joining flocks of mixed species so long as the breeding season isn’t underway. Otherwise, you can expect them to be pretty territorial.

16. White-breasted Nuthatch

White breasted Nuthatch with black and white head
Scientific Name:Sitta carolinensis
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:5–5.5 in (12.7–14 cm)
Weight:0.6–1.1 oz (18–30 g)
Wingspan:7.9–10.6 in (20.1–26.9 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 10 years

The White-breasted Nuthatch is likely one of the biggest nuthatches in existence, with an average length of about five and a half inches and a wingspan of almost 11 inches.

However, before you actually notice their size, you will probably be struck by their black and white striped head.

Their wings are intricately patterned as well, making them all the more fascinating to look at. Further, their grayish-blue back makes them recognizable as a type of blue bird.

White-breasted Nuthatches also possess a narrow bill that’s slightly curved, along with tiny yet strong legs, dark-pigmented feet, and an extremely short tail.

You will find that birds of this breed will maintain white shafts on their sides, too — all contributing to their distinct appearance, which makes them easy to recognize from other species.

To top that off, White-breasted Nuthatches are very common in the United States. They like living in mature deciduous forests but aren’t afraid of flying to urban areas from time to time.

17. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker with black and white head
Scientific Name:Dryobates pubescens
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:5.5–6.7 in (14–17 cm)
Weight:0.7–1 oz (21–28 g)
Wingspan:9.8–11.8 in (25–30 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 11.9 years

As an acrobatic forager, you can expect the black and white Downy Woodpecker will be able to “peck” its way through anything. They are endemic to North America and are usually seen in deciduous grove areas.

Regarding appearance, if you are wondering whether you’ve seen these birds before, there’s a high chance you have. They look very similar to Hairy Woodpeckers and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.

However, it is worth noting that Downy Woodpeckers are smaller than those two species. They also exhibit shorter bills, which make them more adept at eating insects than their larger cousins.

On a different note, Downy Woodpeckers will be incredibly territorial throughout the year. This means they will attack members of other species that enter their territory, even those that may be larger than themselves.

18. Black-throated Gray Warbler

Black throated Gray Warbler with black and white head
Scientific Name:Setophaga nigrescens
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:4.3–5.1 in (11–13 cm)
Weight:0.2–0.4 oz (7–10 g)
Wingspan:7.5–7.9 in (19–20 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 10 years

If a monochrome warbler type is what you’re looking for, the Black-throated Gray Warbler is the bird for you. They typically boast a black-and-white striped head and a gray body, accompanied by a white tummy and black tail tips.

What’s more, these birds don’t lack in personality, as they are relatively gentle, vocal, and sociable in nature. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see them engaging in playfighting with each other or other species of birds.

Apart from that, do not be shocked if you see them singing a buzzy melody or dancing on branches — they are known to be quite the performers. Still, note that this behavior is only reserved for the breeding season.

In terms of foraging, you can anticipate that Black-throated Gray Warblers will be slower than most birds. Nonetheless, they will make up for it by having a very diverse diet of spiders, grasshoppers, and other bugs.

19. Clay-colored Sparrow

Clay colored Sparrow with black and white head
Scientific Name:Spizella pallida
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:4.5–6 in (11.4–15.2 cm)
Weight:0.4–0.5 oz (12–15 g)
Wingspan:7–8 in (17.8–20.3 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 10 years

Last but not least, meet the Clay-colored Sparrow. At first glance, you might think these birds don’t have a black-and-white striped head, but it does. Such a pattern is just hard to see on its mostly brown-colored feathers.

Clay-colored Sparrows are generally found in the shrubby woodlands of many countries, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, India, and some parts of Europe and Asia.

As such, you can already conclude that these birds are highly adaptable to different domains. Whether it be desert or rainforest — they are more than ready to make themselves at home in any habitat they find themselves in.

Moreover, the best part about Clay-colored Sparrows is that they are not shy nor territorial. Instead, they are quite friendly, as you’ll see them flocking together with other birds when looking for food or shelter from predators.

Hopefully, this article has helped you better understand these birds with black and white heads. Drop your favorite species in the comments, along with any questions you may have about any of these birds!

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