Skip to Content

13 Small Black Birds in Florida

small black birds in florida
Eastern Kingbird in the Everglades National Park, Florida: Photo by Neo Morpheus


Florida’s diverse ecosystems cradle nearly 500 remarkable wild bird species, including special small black residents and visitors embellishing the state, from Chimney Swifts aerial acrobatics to Red-cockaded Woodpeckers drilling mature pines for larvae sustenance.  

Small Black Birds in Florida

Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica 

  • Features: Nimble cigar-shaped silhouette suits this incessant insectivore spending most time effortlessly aloft on bowed narrow wings hunting prey.
  • Locations: Still fairly widespread in breeding season across north and central Florida chimneys before migrating through the Americas to winter roosts in northwest South America.  
  • Fun Fact: Scarce perching adaptations lead an energetic mostly airborne existence dallying only to cling vertically inside chimneys using tiny sharp claws when resting between energetic feeding forays at dusk.

Antillean Palm Swift (Tachornis phoenicobia)

  • Features: A lanky sooty brown swift with slightly paler underside specialized for breeding exclusively in palm groves like its Chimney Swift cousin. 
  • Locations: Occurs locally only in South Florida, often comingling among Central American transient migratory flocks moving between Caribbean and mainland overwintering locales.
  • Fun Fact: Sustained aerial flight permits feeding entirely on flying insects captured on the wing. Temporary night roosts amid dense palm canopies offer respite until dawn launches another day spent almost perpetually aloft trawling the skies.

Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)  

  • Features: Males boast bold red crests behind petite bills adept at extracting larvae peeking white face stripes contrasting neat black and white barred plumage.
  • Locations: Year-round resident across wooded Florida excavating nest holes favoring standing dead trees oozing sap attracting plentiful insects to continually forage.
  • Fun Fact: Males assist brooding female partners with diligent incubating shifts while jointly defending choice interior hollows from persistent squirrels also seeking shelter.

Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Dryobates borealis

  • Features: White cheeks and black and white ladder-backed markings typify this specialist mature pine dweller patiently hollow cavity nests inside aging trunks of scattered open forest stands with prescriptive conditions.  
  • Locations: Remaining recovery populations cling within carefully managed southeastern pine uplands attempting to expand small groups cooperatively breeding upon created habitat after century declines nearly doomed the species.  
  • Fun Fact: Instead of solitary living, family groups assist breeding pairs incubating and provisioning hatchlings leading towards higher fledgling success once the young master flying onto branches.    

Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens)  

  • Features: Dour flycatching bird persistently dawn fan tail while perched awaiting insects to hawk one by one from bare branches with occasional soft calls contrasting sharply “Pee-dah-WHY” confirming presence but otherwise blend into shadows suited for ambushing flying nuisance pests. 
  • Locations: Summer breeding visitor into northern Florida and beyond up eastern woodlands. Require open flyways harvested forests provide overaging dense trees shading free-flowing creeks ideal habitat attracting hungry mosquito meals they seamlessly snatch fluttering forth then vanishing swallowed whole each second.
  • Fun Fact: Yearly travels totaling thousands of miles stick precisely evolved by limiting foraging niche precisely honed targeting temporary seasonal hatch swells along similar northeast to southwest routes between wintering Central American and North American mixed forests they summer nest within.

Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe)  

  • Features: Medium flycatching bird with black head, clean white throat and contrasting brownish wings against pale yellow belly constantly pumping tail upward while upright perching to expose its namesake “Phoebe!” call announcing presence.
  • Locations: Found wintering across peninsular Florida after summer breeding farther north then down through Panama. Requires protected nesting spots like bridges plus open flyways to hawk insect prey.  
  • Fun Fact: Nest resembles an open abruptly installed muddy shelf attached to vertical human structures near ideal feeding grounds and water resources.  

Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)

  • Features: Medium-sized olive gray tyrant flycatcher accented by darker wings plus a blacker hood and crisp white throat badge. Outer white-tipped tail feathers flash conspicuously during acrobatic aerial prey pursuits. 
  • Locations: Summer breeding visitor across temperate zones. Only the lengthier southbound fall migration reaches Florida carrying individuals farther south overwintering in South American tropics by November.  
  • Fun Fact: Aggressively defend nesting territories against much larger intruder species like crows or hawks by repeatedly rising to pestiferously chase marauders away through sheer irritation persistence.

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  

  • Features: Compact inky male blackbirds embellished only by ruby red shoulder patches and adjacent lighter streaks contrast females more uniformly streaked and subtly patterned as plumages evolved disguising vulnerable ground cup mud nests secreted inside dense reedy vegetation along ethereal marshes yet year around found statewide anywhere. 
  • Locations: Constant defenders of breeding wetlands against intrusions by most any disturbance nearby also gather winter seed crops in immense flocks foraging agricultural fields before dispersing again later spring establishing new territories as transient conditions dictate best chances mating success raising next generations. 
  • Fun Fact: Polygamist males maintain harems producing abundant clutches sometimes triple brooding if seasonal conditions prove right while their drab females build nests alone seeking secure microsites from concealment inside previous years same locations to renourishing successional habitat food chains nourishing hatchlings. 

Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus)  

  • Features: Breeding male shows creamy buff nape stripe surrounding dark hooded head and stout seed-eating bill efficient at processing vast quantities of grains supplementing insects during seasonal movements.  
  • Locations: Considered scarce across interior Florida winter months after females lead offspring consuming prodigious crops then south into Argentina before looping north again entering US southern grain plains towards nesting habitats in upper Midwestern prairies.
  • Fun Fact: Each female mates males drawn singing enticing songs who help ensure their multiple broods all survive risky first flights from ground layer natal nests tucked amid broad sweeping meadows to fledging the next before annual migrations start again chasing seasonal ripening grain waves.

Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)   

  • Features: Bulky dark iridescent purple tinted invasive bird with sharp narrow yellow bill remorselessly competing for prime nesting cavities against native species while exploiting insect bounties made plowing fields and livestock operations through winter months afterwards huddled enormous predatory nighttime roost flocks.
  • Locations: Abundant all across Florida after nesting finishes up north from April to July in diverse habitats then collecting winter food bonanzas keeping numbers high some locations despite conservation removal efforts protecting threatened wood ducks and other secondary hollow seeking wildlife against their usurping colonies eliminating opportunities critical breeding requirements.   
  • Fun Fact: Performs well synchronized flock wave maneuvers termed murmurations to confuse aerial raptor attacks allowing embedded sub-groups coordinate reactions interpreting neighbors positional directions when ambushed from above so more individuals survive any attempts focused targeting their overwhelming masses.

Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia)  

  • Features: Tiny gray and black striped warbler creeps like nuthatch up trunks and branches swiftly probing crevices and folded bark with its fine narrow bill seeking small spider eggs and hidden insect larvae.
  • Locations: Scattered sightings possible across Florida during spring and fall migration passages. Summers breed in eastern Canada and northern U.S. into deciduous or mixed forests. Winters farther south to Mexico, Central and northern South America.   
  • Fun Fact: Constantly fans tail while zigzagging actively searching arboreal bark and branches at all angles and positions for concealed morsels. Nest on ground amid dead leaf litter near base of tree or log.

Blackpoll Warbler (Setophaga striata)   

  • Features: Tiny charcoal gray warbler with bright white cheeks showing faint narrow crowns and eyestripes. Constantly fans tail foraging high branches in northern canopies during spring migration passage pausing to rest and refuel among coastal trees and scrub listening for imposter playback recordings trying to elicit territorial responses revealing transient pathways taken between Arctic nests and Latin America winter residences.
  • Locations: Scarce along northern Florida migrating between boreal breeding forests and Amazonian wintering habitats covering astonishing distances over open ocean for its minuscule body size without pausing for rest along roundtrip journeys reaching 14,000 miles annually.  
  • Fun Fact: Lengthy migration flights illustrate incredible navigational intelligence and fuel conservation capacities over immense featureless water stretches rivaling greatest ultra-marathon migrating Alaska Bar-tailed Godwits also nonstop globetrotting superstars linking opposite hemispheres through the sheer willpower. 

Black-faced Grassquit (Melanospiza bicolor)

  • Features: Lanky nondescript sparrow with darker gray hood lightly striped white at the crown bordering neat gray half collars identifying this species which otherwise sneaks slowly and secretively low inside shaded scrub and tangled brush discreetly munching dry grass seeds.  
  • Locations: Year-round resident occurring statewide across drier open brush lands and scrub habitats where cautious movements help them vanish against tropical foliage despite soft low sputtering territorial warbles occasionally emitted, betraying presence to perceptive observers.  
  • Fun Fact: Female constructs an immaculate tidy cup nest woven smoothly from fine dry grasses and fibers lashed onto dense clustered branches before depositing well-camouflaged olive-toned eggs. 

Citizen Science  

Public data expands scientific knowledge helping guide decisions. Uploading checklists tracking sightings to shared databases like eBird enables analysis of distribution statuses over time. Nesting surveys help determine shifting habitat ranges needed to direct appropriate management policies towards optimization breeding success many rare imperiled species.  


Safeguarding Florida’s ecological heritage depends greatly upon enlightened individual awareness transcending fleeting moments marveling great egrets sailing mangrove channels mirrored vividly crimson each sunrise framed across protective waters illustrating connectivity all earth’s denizens share.