Blackbirds in Georgia: The 10 Most Common Species (and Rare Visitors!)

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Georgia holds a wealth of incredible wildlife thriving in a unique ecosystem. Among all the amazing species you may get to view while bird watching here, a handful of common blackbird species may grace your yard or flock miraculously above you.

To help you identify the blackbirds you find on your adventures, we’ve pulled together a list of the ten most common species so you can get an idea of their background and behavior.

In addition, we’ve added a list of rare species at the end of this post. Consider yourself extremely lucky if you catch a glimpse of these rare species in Georgia!

Year-Round Residents

Common Grackle

Common Grackle

  • Scientific Name: Quiscalus quiscula
  • Length:11-13 inches (28-33 centimeters)
  • Weight: 2.6–5 ounces (74-142 grams)
  • Wingspan: 14-18 inches (36-46 centimeters)

The Common grackle is the most common blackbird species in Georgia during the summer months. These birds are easily recognizable with their glossy black feathers and long tail.

Common grackles are known for their loud, harsh calls and aggressive behavior. They are often seen chasing other birds away from food sources or nesting sites high up in conifer trees. Despite their small size, these resourceful blackbirds are not afraid to take on much larger birds!

Common grackles are short-distance migrants, meaning they migrate but are not usually very far from home. They can be seen all year round in Georgia, but are most abundant from March through November.

The best place to see them is in open areas such as parks, fields, and roadside ditches. You might even see a common grackle in your backyard if you’re lucky! Try putting out a bird feeder with cracked corn or millet to attract them to your yard.

Boat-tailed Grackle

Boat-tailed Grackle

  • Scientific Name: Quiscalus major
  • Length: 15–17 inches (38-43 centimeters)
  • Weight: 5.8–8.8 ounces (164-249 grams)
  • Wingspan: 15–20 inches (38-51 centimeters)

The Boat-tailed grackle is a bird species found in the southeastern United States. They are most commonly seen in the spring and summer months in Georgia. They are attracted to open areas such as fields and marshes and can often be seen near lakes and ponds. They frequent the coast of Georgia.

Boat-tailed grackle males are large black birds with long legs, pointed bills, and long tails.

Boat-tailed grackles are not shy birds and will often approach people in search of food. These loud blackbirds are known to eat a variety of foods, including insects, berries, and even small reptiles.

If you want to attract Boat-tailed grackles to your yard, try adding wild bird feeders and water features. These birds will add a touch of excitement to your outdoor space!

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

  • Scientific Name: Agelaius phoeniceus
  • Length: 6.7–9.4 inches (17-24 centimeters)
  • Weight: 1.5–2.3 ounces (43-65 grams)
  • Wingspan: 12–16 inches (30-41 centimeters)

The Red-winged blackbird is the most common blackbird species in Georgia in the winter months. They are known for the bright red and yellow patch on their shoulders, which are visible when they are in flight.

These birds are generally found near wetlands. Female Red-winged blackbirds build their nests in the marshy vegetation during the breeding season. They can be aggressive birds and will vigorously defend their nest against intruders, even humans.

Red-winged blackbirds are opportunistic feeders and will eat a variety of insects and seeds. In the winter, they often form large flocks and can be seen in fields and along roadsides.

The best place to see them is wetlands, such as the Okefenokee Swamp. To attract Red-winged blackbirds to your yard, try planting native wetland plants, such as cattails or swamp sunflowers. You can also put out a birdbath or small pond, which will give them a place to drink and bathe.

European Starling

European Starling

  • Scientific Name: Sturnus vulgaris
  • Length: 7.5–9 inches (19-23 centimeters)
  • Weight: 2–3.6 ounces (57-102 grams)
  • Wingspan: 12–17 inches (30-43 centimeters)

The European starling is an introduced species to the state of Georgia. Eugene Schieffelin brought the bird to North America, and it has outcompeted most other native birds wherever it goes. These small blackbirds are incredibly adaptable and can be found in various habitats, from woods and fields to urban areas.

European starlings have shiny black plumage with a short tail and slender beak. Breeding adults appear darker, and their feathers have a green-purple tint.

They are also very aggressive birds and will take over a nesting site if given a chance. In addition to being aggressive, they are also very noisy and will often chatter away loudly in the trees. They tend to visit an area in massive flocks and chase away all other competition.

Despite their cultural cachet, European starlings are considered pests in many parts of the world, including the woodlands of Georgia, where they dominate nesting space. However, they are fairly easy to spot in Georgia and can often be seen in urban areas near parks and buildings. 

Eastern Meadowlark

Eastern Meadowlark

  • Scientific Name: Sturnella magna
  • Length: 7.5–10 inches (19-25 centimeters)
  • Weight: 2.7–5.3 ounces (77-150 grams)
  • Wingspan: 14–16 inches (36-41 centimeters)

The Eastern meadowlark is a beautiful bird found in the eastern United States. In Georgia, they are most often seen in the fall and winter. They are small birds with yellow breasts and black streaks on their heads.

Some of their favorite foods are crickets, beetles, and grasshoppers. They also like to eat sunflower seeds. The best place to see them is in open fields or meadows.

You can attract them to your yard by planting native plants such as sunflowers, clover, and grasses. You can also put out a bird feeder filled with seeds. Caring for the Eastern meadowlarks in your yard may help the species as a whole, as their population in Georgia has been steadily declining.

Brown-headed Cowbirds

Brown-Headed Cowbird

  • Scientific Name: Molothrus ater
  • Length: 6.3–8.7 inches (16-22 centimeters)
  • Weight: 1.1–2.1 ounces (31-60 grams)
  • Wingspan: 12-15 inches (30-38 centimeters)

Brown-headed cowbird males are small, with black bodies and chocolate brown head. Female cowbirds are duller with slight streaking on their bellies. This chunky blackbird is found throughout the continental United States, but they are most common in the eastern half of the country.

In Georgia, they can be found in both rural and urban areas. They are often seen near fields and forests, but they will also visit yards and gardens in search of food.

These birds are known for their parasitic behavior. Instead of spending energy building nests, female Brown-headed cowbirds lay their eggs in the nests of other bird species. The host birds then raise the baby cowbird to adulthood as their own.

This can strain the host bird’s resources and can even lead to the death of their own young. However, the Brown-headed cowbird is not considered an endangered species, and their numbers are actually increasing in some parts of the country.

Migratory Visitors

Rusty Blackbird

Rusty Blackbird

  • Scientific Name: Euphagus carolinus
  • Length: 8.5–9.8 inches (22-25 centimeters)
  • Weight: 2–2.1 ounces (57-60 centimeters)
  • Wingspan: 14 inches (36 centimeters)

The Rusty blackbird is a species of concern in Georgia. This medium-sized blackbird’s population is declining at an alarming rate, and there is concern that it may disappear entirely from the state within a few decades. These birds are most often seen in wet forests, wetlands, and tundra habitats.

Breeding males are glossy black. Non-breeding males are duller, with rusty-brown edges on their feathers. Female blackbirds are rusty all over.

In Georgia, the best time to see Rusty blackbirds is during the fall and winter months as they migrate to the state for winter after breeding in Canada over the summer. The best place to see them is in the northern part of the state, where they are more likely to overwinter.

To attract Rusty blackbirds to your yard, try planting native plants that these birds rely on for food and shelter. You can also put up nesting boxes to provide potential homes for these birds. Avoid using non-native plants in your yard, as they can harm local ecosystems. Introduced species, such as honeysuckle and kudzu, are particularly problematic in Georgia and should be avoided.

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

  • Scientific Name: Icterus galbula
  • Length: 6.7–8.7 inches (17-22 centimeters)
  • Weight: 0.8–1.5 ounces (23-43 grams)
  • Wingspan: 9.1–12.6 inches (23-32 centimeters)

Among the many beautiful birds that grace the skies of Georgia, none are more beloved than the Baltimore oriole.

These vibrant orange and black creatures are a welcome sight in springtime when they return from their winter homes in Central and South America. Males have white wing bars on their black wings, while female birds are more muted in tone.

Orioles are relatively easy to spot, as they often perch in open areas near the top of deciduous trees at forest edges. They are also attracted to yards with fruits or nectar-bearing flowers, making them easy to attract to your property. 

While they will typically build their nests in trees, they have been known to use artificial structures such as mailboxes and gutters, and artificial nesting materials, some of which—like fishing line—can be harmful.

Orchard Oriole

Orchard Oriole

  • Scientific Name: Icterus spurius
  • Length: 5.9–7.1 inches (15-18 centimeters)
  • Weight: 0.6–1 ounce (17-28 grams)
  • Wingspan: 9.8 inches (25 centimeters)

The Orchard oriole is a beautiful little bird found in Georgia during the spring and summer months. These birds are primarily black, with bright orange or yellow breasts.

These vibrant blackbirds are very active and love to eat insects they find in shrubby vegetation, making them a welcome sight in any garden. Orchard orioles are not shy and can often be seen perching on branches at the tops of trees or flying from tree to tree in search of food.

The best time to see these birds in Georgia is from April to July. The best place to see them is in wooded areas near rivers or streams.

If you want to attract Orchard orioles to your yard, you can try putting out a dish of ripe fruit or a nectar feeder. You can also plant trees and shrubs that these birds like to nest in, such as crabapples or cherries.

Bobolink

Bobolink

  • Scientific Name: Dolichonyx oryzivorus
  • Length: 5.9–8.3 inches (15-21 centimeters)
  • Weight: 1–2 ounces (28-57 grams)
  • Wingspan: 10.6 inches (27 centimeters)

The Bobolink is a beautiful bird found in Georgia. Bobolinks typically mate for life and will return to the same nesting area year after year.

In Georgia, Bobolinks can be seen from late April through early August. They are considered regularly occurring but are still relatively rare to spot.

The best place to see them is on panhandle prairies, like the Flint River prairie in Albany. Plant native grasses and wildflowers to attract Bobolinks to your yard. Consider creating a brush pile or leaving some areas of your lawn uncut to provide shelter for these birds.

Unfortunately, their breeding population has declined significantly in the past 50 years.

Uncommon Blackbird Species in Georgia

In addition to the beautiful array of common blackbirds, avid bird watchers may get the unique experience of spotting a rare species. These species are known to frequent the state but are not considered residents or “regularly occurring.”

Alongside the rare species are “accidental species.” These birds have only been spotted in the state a handful of times in recent years and are likely to be lost migrants.

Rare

  • Yellow-headed Blackbirds – only a few sightings in recent years
  • Brewer’s Blackbirds – rarely spotted but recognized as “regularly occurring”

Accidental

  • Scott’s Oriole – only recorded once in the state (in 2020)
  • Western Meadowlark – last seen in 2019 in Montezuma
  • Shiny Cowbirds – last recorded in 2018
  • Bullock’s Oriole – seen in the south (Chatham, Tyty, and Valdosta)

Final Thoughts

Blackbirds are an important part of the ecosystem in Georgia. These birds play a vital role in controlling insect populations and help to spread native plants by dispersing their seeds. In return, blackbirds provide us with beautiful moments of avian watching and listening pleasure.

No matter what species of blackbird you see, be sure to appreciate these amazing creatures!

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Sophie Herlihy

After an early start in the veterinary industry and as a conservation educator at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida, Sophie has since been a successful Zookeeper and Conservationist, specializing in native New Zealand species. When she isn't bird watching in native forests or crawling through the underbrush at midnight searching for rare frog species, she can be found with her husband on their sheep and beef station, far from civilization.