Blackbirds in Alabama: 14 Various Species You Might See

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Many amazing birds make Alabama their home or can be seen passing through the state. We’ve already introduced you to many of the most iconic and common birds in Alabama, but below, we’ll focus on blackbirds that you might encounter.

Some of the blackbirds you will see in Alabama are indeed true new-world blackbirds. We’ll focus on these in the list below. But there are also other birds with black coloration that do not strictly belong within the family of Icteridae, to which blackbirds belong. And several ‘blackbirds’ are not, in fact, black at all.

Read on, and find out about the blackbirds found in Alabama and some other black birds found in Alabama, too.

Blackbirds (Icteridae) in Alabama

These are the new world blackbirds (Icteridae) that you might see in the state:

Red-Winged Blackbird

Red-Winged Blackbird

  • Scientific Name: Agelaius phoeniceus
  • Length: 6.7-9.1 in (17-23 cm)
  • Weight: 1.1-2.7 oz (32-77 g)
  • Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in (31-40 cm)

Red-winged blackbirds are frequently spotted in Alabama year-round and are the most commonly sighted new world blackbird on this list. The males are black all over, except for the reddish-orange patches on their wings. The females, on the other hand, are dull brown.

In Alabama, you may see these birds sitting on telephone wires, fiercely defending their territories in the breeding season, or roosting in large numbers in winter. When nesting, they love marshy spots but will also nest in meadows and fields. They lay their eggs in nests formed from mud, wet leaves, and grass in densely vegetated areas close to the ground.

They eat a diet primarily made up of insects in the summer but will appreciate it if you provide them with some seeds during the winter months through feeders or the plants you grow.

Common Grackle

Common Grackle

  • Scientific Name: Quiscalus quiscula
  • Length: 11.0-13.4 in (28-34 cm)
  • Weight: 2.6-5.0 oz (74-142 g)
  • Wingspan: 14.2-18.1 in (36-46 cm)

Common grackles also appear regularly on birdwatchers’ lists in Alabama. Though slightly more commonly spotted in summer, they are also seen in the state year-round. They can sometimes gather in large numbers but are unfortunately near-threatened. Their numbers have halved since the 1970s.

A little taller and with longer tails than typical blackbirds, these grackles have long tails, and their feathers have a glossy sheen. The males are slightly shinier than the females.

Grackles commonly make their nests in coniferous trees near water. They like habitats with open woods, marshes, fields, or parkland.

Alabama residents may find them a nuisance as they can often get into garbage and make quite a mess. Farmers also find them a pest as they’ll eat corn and other crops. They are often found alongside other blackbirds in large, noisy groups.

Brown-Headed Cowbird

Brown-Headed Cowbird

  • Scientific Name: Molothrus ater
  • Length: 76.3-8.7 in (19-22 cm)
  • Weight: 1.3-1.8 oz (42-50 g)
  • Wingspan: 14.2 in (36 cm)

You are more likely to see these birds in Alabama during the summer months, but they are year-round residents here, not migrating south as they will do from more northern areas.

The males have black bodies, though their heads are brown. The females are streaky grayish-brown.

These birds are commonly found in grasslands and fields, rarely in woodland. You will often see them around cattle grazing on Alabama farms, waiting for them to kick up insects from the grass and grazing on grass and weed seeds, which make up the bulk of their diet. You may also see them coming to feeders in Alabama gardens.

Interestingly, these birds don’t make their own nests. They often lay eggs in the nests of other birds and have other species rear their young.

Eastern Meadowlark

Eastern Meadowlark

  • Scientific Name: Sturnella magna
  • Length: 7.5-10.2 in (19-26 cm)
  • Weight: 3.2-5.3 oz (90-150 g)
  • Wingspan: 13.8-15.8 in (35-40 cm)

Though they have black marks on their backs and a distinctive black band across their chests, this is one of the ‘blackbirds’ of Alabama that is not really black. They are bright yellow underneath and predominantly pale brown on their backs.

You can see these songbirds in the state year-round, though sadly, this is another species that is now near-threatened. In Alabama, you may still see them in large numbers looking for seeds from fields or feeders in winter.

Their nests are made from woven grasses and found in meadows and fields on the ground. Their song is melodic and clear, so you may hear them more often than you see them.

Orchard Oriole

Orchard Oriole

  • Scientific Name: Icterus spurius
  • Length: 5.9-7.1 in (15-18 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6-1.0 oz (16-28 g)
  • Wingspan: 9.8 in (25 cm)

These birds are sometimes seen in Alabama in summer. They start to arrive in February and may stay as late as November before migrating south. But you are most likely to see them between April and August.

The males and females of this species look very different. The males are mostly black with reddish bellies, while the females are greenish-yellow in hue. The Orchard oriole is the smallest blackbird species in Alabama and, indeed, in the whole of North America.

You may spot them in gardens, open woodland, farmland, or river banks. They build pouch-like dangling nests. You can attract them to your garden by ensuring there are plenty of insects and arachnids, flowers for nectar, hummingbird feeders, and berries for them to eat.

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

  • Scientific Name: Icterus galbula
  • Length: 6.7-7.5 in (17-19 cm)
  • Weight: 1.1-1.4 oz (30-40 g)
  • Wingspan: 9.1-11.8 in (23-30 cm)

These birds can be seen in Alabama between August and May. They mostly spend the breeding season in the far north of the state, but you may also spot them in the south when they begin their southward migration to Florida, the Caribbean, and Central America.

The males are black and bright orange, and the females are brownish-gray and yellow-brown. They often come into parks and backyards in Alabama to feed on insects and fruit.

Boat-Tailed Grackle

Boat-Tailed Grackle

  • Scientific Name: Quiscalus major
  • Length: 10.2-14.6 in (26-37 cm)
  • Weight: 3.3-8.4 oz (93-239 g)
  • Wingspan: 15.3-19.7 in (39-50 cm)

These birds are not particularly common in Alabama but may be seen in the far south of the state year-round. The males are glossy and black, with long tails and pointed bills. The females are brown and much smaller.

Rusty Blackbird

Rusty Blackbird

  • Scientific Name: Euphagus carolinus
  • Length: 8.3-9.8 in (21-25 cm)
  • Weight: 1.7-2.8 oz (47-80 g)
  • Wingspan: 14.6 in (37 cm)

Rusty blackbirds breed in Canadian forests before migrating south. They can rarely be seen in Alabama and, sadly, are vulnerable and declining in number but can appear over the winter months. They are spotted by a small proportion of Alabama birdwatchers, typically between November and March.

The males are glossy black with rusty brown edging to their feathers, and the females are primarily gray-brown.

Bobolinks

Bobolinks

  • Scientific Name: Dolichonyx oryzivorus
  • Length: 5.9-8.3 in (15-21 cm)
  • Weight: 1.0-2.0 oz (29-56 g)
  • Wingspan: 10.6 in (27 cm)

Bobolinks migrate through Alabama in spring and fall and are most commonly seen here during the spring migration in March and April.

The breeding males are unusual looking, with black bellies, white backs, and yellow ‘hair’ on the back of their heads. Females and non-breeding males are much plainer – primarily brown.

Brewer’s Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird

  • Scientific Name: Euphagus cyanocephalus
  • Length: 7.9 -9.8 in (20-25 cm)
  • Weight: 1.8 -3.0 oz (50-86 g)
  • Wingspan: 14.6 in (37 cm)

Though rarely spotted in Alabama, these blackbirds are known to overwinter in the state. You are most likely to encounter them here between October and April. The males are black with a purplish and green sheen to the head and body. The females are brown.

In addition to the above blackbirds, which you are more likely to see in the state, rare or accidental visitors to Alabama also include:

Bullock’s Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole

  • Yellow-headed Blackbird
  • Bronzed Cowbird
  • Shiny Cowbird
  • Hooded Oriole
  • Western Meadowlark
  • Great-tailed Grackle

Other Blackbirds in Alabama

European Starling

European Starling

  • Scientific Name: Sturnus vulgaris
  • Length: 7.9-9.1 in (20-23 cm)
  • Weight: 2.1-3.4 oz (60-96 g)
  • Wingspan: 12.2-15.8 in (31-40 cm)

Though an introduced and non-native bird, the European starling is now one of the most common songbirds in the state. Though they may look black from afar, they are actually very colorful, with purple, blue, and green tones in their iridescent feathers. They often gather in very large flocks and may become a nuisance.

American Crow

American Crow

  • Scientific Name: Corvus brachyrhynchos
  • Length: 16-21 in
  • Weight: 11-21 oz
  • Wingspan: 33-39 in

The American crow is common throughout the year in inland regions of the state and uncommon to fairly common along the Gulf Coast. This well-known black bird is not related to the blackbirds mentioned above but is another black-colored bird you might encounter in Alabama.

Fish Crow

Fish Crow

  • Scientific Name: Corvus ossifragus
  • Length: 10.4–11.5 in
  • Weight: 9.9–11.3 oz
  • Wingspan: 14–16 in

The fish crow is common along the Gulf Coast of Alabama in all seasons and fairly common along the inland coastal plain. It is occasionally spotted in the mountains and rarely seen in the Tennessee Valley region. Similar in appearance to the common crow, it has a longer tail and smaller head and bill. They also sound a little different and are somewhat glossier black.

Of course, these are not the only blackbirds seen in Alabama. Some other birds with black feathers that you might see include:

  • Common Moorhens.
  • American Coots.
  • Groove-billed Ani.
  • Dark-eyed Junco.
  • Various grebes (black and white).
  • Glossy or White-faced Ibis.
  • Storm Petrels, Cormorants, and several other black and white shorebirds.

This list of blackbirds and other black birds listed above should help you identify some of the more commonly seen birds in this state.

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Elizabeth Waddington

Elizabeth Waddington is a conservation, rewilding, organic gardening and sustainability specialist who loves everything nature-related. She loves helping others around the world connect with the wildlife and wonders around them. When not creating wildlife-wise, eco-friendly designs, or writing about the topics that inspire her, she loves spending time watching the birds on and around her own rural property, or heading out on camping or hiking adventures to spot birds and other wildlife in a range of habitats.