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29 Black Birds in Georgia

black birds in georgia
Black Vultures in Milledgeville, Georgia: Photo by Nathan Mixon

Introduction

From secretive marsh birds to flashy songbirds, a variety of striking black-plumaged birds make their homes in the Peach State. Their dark silhouettes stand out dramatically against Georgia’s backdrops of lake, forest, and field. Let’s explore some of the top black birds living throughout Georgia.

Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)

  • Features: Medium-sized diving duck with black back, head, and neck. White vertical stripe on side of head. Males have pale ring around neck. 
  • Locations: Winters on Georgia’s lakes, reservoirs, rivers and coastal waters. 
  • Fun Fact: Breeds in forest lakes of northeastern North America. Courting males make soft whistling calls. 

Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)

  • Features: Stocky diving duck with black head, neck, breast and rear. White sides. Large heavy bill. 
  • Locations: Seen offshore and on large lakes while migrating and wintering through Georgia.
  • Fun Fact: Breeds on lakes in Alaska and Canada. Males make a “scaup, scaup” call in courtship.

Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis

  • Features: Smaller lookalike of Greater Scaup. Glossy purple head and neck. White crescent in wing visible in flight.
  • Locations: Abundant winter visitor to Georgia’s lakes, rivers and coastal marshes. 
  • Fun Fact: The most common diving duck seen in Georgia in winter. Males make a fast “scaup, scaup, scaup” call.

Black Scoter (Melanitta americana)

  • Features: Stocky seaduck with bulky head and swollen bill. Males entirely black with yellow knob on bill. Females brown. 
  • Locations: Winters off the Georgia coast, favoring marine habitats. 
  • Fun Fact: Breeds across northern Canada and Alaska. Males court females with a “ticka” display call. 

Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)

  • Features: Large ground bird with metallic dark plumage. Bright red and blue head. Males have beard and leg spurs. 
  • Locations: Found statewide in open woods and clearings. 
  • Fun Fact: Roosts communally in trees at night. Males make the recognizable “gobble” call. 

Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  

  • Features: Stocky waterbird with short chicken-like bill. Black smudge on white face patch. Dives to feed.
  • Locations: Found year-round on Georgia’s ponds, lakes, rivers and swamps. 
  • Fun Fact: Nests among reeds at water’s edge. Chicks ride on parent’s back. 

Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus)

  • Features: Small waterbird with thin pointed bill. Black head, red eyes and neck. White cheek patches. 
  • Locations: Seen in Georgia during migration and winter on lakes, reservoirs and coast. 
  • Fun Fact: Breeds in small ponds across Canada and northern U.S. Courting dance includes head shaking and gliding.

Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica)

  • Features: Cigar-shaped silhouette with tiny feet and large sickle wings tailored for continuous flight.  
  • Locations: Nests in chimneys and other structures. Hawks insects above fields and waterways statewide. 
  • Fun Fact: Roosts communally in chimneys. Migrates to South America for winter.

Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata)

  • Features: Plump slate-gray rail with red frontal shield and white undertail. Long yellow legs and toes.  
  • Locations: Found in marshes and ponds statewide. Nests among dense vegetation at water’s edge. 
  • Fun Fact: Sometimes walks atop floating vegetation. Diet includes aquatic animals and plant material. 

American Coot (Fulica americana)

  • Features: Black waterbird with white bill and frontal shield. Lobed toes for aquatic walking.  
  • Locations: Seen year-round on Georgia’s ponds, lakes, reservoirs and slow rivers.   
  • Fun Fact: Forages by diving for aquatic plants. May fight over territory with distinctive “kek-kek” call. 

Black Tern (Chlidonias niger)

  • Features: Small, slender tern with deeply-forked tail. Black head and underparts in summer. Gray wings. 
  • Locations: Breeds locally in marshes. More widespread in migration across Georgia.
  • Fun Fact: Hovers and dives for small fish and insects. Nest is anchored vegetation raft. 

Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)

  • Features: Large waterbird with long snake-like neck. Males have black body and silvery wing linings. 
  • Locations: Found year-round near lakes, swamps, and rivers across Georgia. 
  • Fun Fact: Swims low with just neck above water, then spears fish with sharp bill. Fans wings to dry.

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus

  • Features: Large black waterbird with long neck and hooked bill. Bright orange face patch. 
  • Locations: Seen year-round along Georgia’s coast and inland waters. Breeds colonially in trees. 
  • Fun Fact: Swims low to stalk and catch fish. Flies in long strings with neck tucked. 

Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)

  • Features: Large black soaring bird with small bald head. Short tail has dihedral in flight.  
  • Locations: Abundant statewide scavenger. Roosts and nests communally in trees or structures.
  • Fun Fact: Finds carrion by sight and by following turkey vultures. Regurgitates to cool off.

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

  • Features: Large brownish soaring bird with featherless red head. Fingered wingtips. 
  • Locations: Common statewide scavenger. Roosts in large groups in secluded trees or buildings.
  • Fun Fact: Locates carrion by smell. Soars gracefully for hours without flapping. 

Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)  

  • Features: Crow-sized woodpecker with black body, bright red crest, and white stripes on face.
  • Locations: Found in mature forests across Georgia. Carves rectangular excavations in trees.  
  • Fun Fact: Diet includes carpenter ants extracted with long tongue. Makes loud calls and drumming. 

Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe)

  • Features: Small flycatcher with black head and back, white throat and belly. Constantly pumps tail. 
  • Locations: Found statewide perched on branches near water. Nests on structures. 
  • Fun Fact: Better known for “phoebe” call than appearance. Builds mossy nests on shelves. 

Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)

  • Features: Black and white flycatcher with black head, white throat and belly. Notched tail. 
  • Locations: Nests in open country with scattered perches statewide. Winters in South America.  
  • Fun Fact: Hawks flying insects from fence posts. Aggressive in defending nests from crows.

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  

  • Features: All black passerine with thick neck, bill, and legs. Broad wings and squared-off tail. 
  • Locations: Found year-round statewide in open country near woods. Nests high in trees. 
  • Fun Fact: Omnivorous and highly intelligent. Family groups may cooperate to mob predators.

Fish Crow (Corvus ossifragus)

  • Features: Smaller lookalike of American crow of coastal southeast. Nasal “caah” call.  
  • Locations: Found year-round in Georgia’s coastal marshes, beaches, and inland lakes. 
  • Fun Fact: More tied to waterways. Competes with American crows. 

Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus

  • Features: Large sparrow with black hood, back and tail, reddish sides. White spots on wings and tail. 
  • Locations: Found in shrublands and forest edges across Georgia. Scratches leaf litter for insects.
  • Fun Fact: “Drink-your-tea” song. Males help feed nestlings. 

Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus

  • Features: Male has black front and back with creamy nape. Females are pale tan and streaked.
  • Locations: Nests in meadows and fields statewide. Forms large migratory flocks. 
  • Fun Fact: Male’s bubbling song Descends the scale. Eats mainly rice and seeds in winter.

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

  • Features: Medium blackbird with red and yellow shoulder patches. Males defend wetland nests. 
  • Locations: Abundant statewide in marshes, fields, and roadsides. Communal winter flocks. 
  • Fun Fact: Male’s “konk-a-ree” song shows epaulets. Will attack much larger intruders. 

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)  

  • Features: Black body with subtle gloss. Males have dark brown head and neck. Forages on ground.
  • Locations: Found statewide in fields, feedlots, and roadsides. Lays eggs in other birds’ nests. 
  • Fun Fact: Juveniles are fed by host parents. Flocks number in the thousands in migration.

Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus)

  • Features: Medium blackbird with pale yellow eyes. Males have glossy black plumage with rusty fringes. 
  • Locations: Seen in wooded swamps during migration and winter across Georgia.
  • Fun Fact: Breeds in boreal bogs and winters in bottomlands. Diet includes aquatic insects, crustaceans and seeds. 

Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)

  • Features: Medium blackbird with yellow eyes and bill. Males have glossy plumage and yellow-white irises.
  • Locations: Open country across northern Georgia in migration and winter. 
  • Fun Fact: Feeds on ground insects and grains. Male displays by puffing body plumage. 

Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)

  • Features: Lanky blackbird with long keel-shaped tail and pale yellow eye. Females are brownish. 
  • Locations: Found statewide in fields, parks, and urban areas. Communal winter flocks.
  • Fun Fact: Omnivorous and aggressive. Males display by puffing feathers and spreading tail.

Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major)

  • Features: Very large grackle with long black keel-shaped tail and massive bill. Females are brown.
  • Locations: Found year-round in fresh and saltwater marshes across Georgia’s coast.
  • Fun Fact: Forages on mudflats and inshore waters. Makes a loud metallic squeaking call. 

Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia)

  • Features: Small songbird with black and white striped plumage. Constantly fans tail as it climbs trees.
  • Locations: Found breeding in forests statewide. Winters in tropical regions further south. 
  • Fun Fact: Probes bark crevices for insects. Song is high, wheezy and ringing. Nests on the ground.

Threats and Conservation 

Habitat loss poses significant threats, as development and agriculture degrade Georgia’s wetlands, forests, and open habitats required by different black birds. Pesticides reduce insect prey populations relied upon by aerial feeders. Climate change may alter suitable ranges in the future. Windows can kill night-migrating songbirds attracted to artificial light. 

Protecting a diversity of high-quality natural areas provides essential breeding and migratory stopover sites. Reducing use of pesticides and chemicals leaves more insect food sources. Making structures bird friendly with reduced lighting, screens, and angled glass helps reduce collisions for migratory species. Keeping pet cats indoors protects birds.   

Citizen Science Opportunities

Georgia birders make key contributions:

  • Submitting eBird checklists tracks population trends, distributions, and migration timing. 
  • Participating in breeding bird surveys helps map species ranges. 
  • Building and monitoring nest boxes provides breeding data while boosting cavity nesters.
  • Banding reveals migratory routes and life histories for focal species. 
  • Annual Christmas Bird Counts tally wintering birds in Georgia.
  • Outreach inspires future conservationists to care for Georgia’s birds.

Conclusion 

From secretive rails to soaring vultures, black birds occupy diverse niches in Georgia’s habitats. Protecting fragile environments through conservation action and citizen science will ensure these dark beauties keep dazzling future generations.