The blackbirds in Nevada make an interesting study for keen birdwatchers in the state. Many will see new world blackbird species (and one non-native) as they head out birdwatching here.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the species you are most like to see here, and help you understand when you might see them, and how to identify the birds you do encounter.
- 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 will surely not be an unfamiliar site to birdwatchers in Nevada.
They are the species of blackbird most commonly spotted here during the summer months, and the third most commonly sighted in winter.
The males are easily spotted, with their black color and red wing patches. Female red-winged blackbirds are a little less distinctive, with streaky brown feathers all over. Both male and female red-winged blackbirds are beautiful!
- 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 this is an introduced, non-native species, the European starling can be seen in Nevada year-round. Look out for these birds gathering in large numbers and sweeping together in murmurations across the skies.
Though often considered pests, these birds can look remarkable when gathered together in a massive flock.
Up close, these birds are also interesting for their iridescence, which takes on shades of green, purple and blue.
- Scientific Name: Quiscalus mexicanus
- Length: 15.0-18.1 in (38-46 cm)
- Weight: 3.7-6.7 oz (105-190 g)
- Wingspan: 18.9-22.8 in (48-58 cm)
The great-tailed grackle resides in Nevada year-round. They are seen by birdwatchers here in the summer and the winter months and are a common member of the blackbird family.
These slender blackbirds have long, tapered tails in the males, and thinner tails in the females. Males are iridescent black with yellow eyes. Females are brown, darker on the back, and lighter underneath. Great-tailed grackles are much smaller and lighter than the males.
- 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)
This blackbird is also resident in Nevada year-round. However, you are more likely to spot them here between April and October.
These are medium-sized blackbirds. The males have glossy black plumage with purple sheen on their heads and green sheen on their bodies.
The females are plainer—they are simply brown all over.
- Scientific Name: Sturnella neglecta
- Length: 6.3-10.2 in (16-26 cm)
- Weight: 3.1-4.1 oz (89-115 g)
- Wingspan: 16.1 in (41 cm)
Western meadowlarks are most commonly spotted in Nevada between March and June, though they are year-round residents and so can also be spotted at other times of the year.
Around the size of a robin, these songbirds are notable for their musical songs. They have bright chests with a yellow patch and a black, V-shaped band across them, which turn gray in the winter.
On their backs, heads and wings they are brown and white.
- 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)
Sometimes considered a blackbird family pest for their habit of laying eggs in the nests of other birds, these are the second most frequently spotted blackbirds in Nevada in summer.
Though some remain here year-round, you are most likely to see them here between April and August.
The males of the species, as the name suggests, have brown heads. The rest of them is black. The females are gray-brown all over with some streaking on their plumage.
- Scientific Name: Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
- Length: 8.3 – 10.2 in (21 – 26 cm)
- Weight: 1.6 – 3.5 oz (44 – 100 g)
- Wingspan: 16.5 – 17.3 in (42 – 44 cm)
Yellow-headed blackbirds are known to spend the breeding season in Nevada. They are most commonly spotted here between March and October.
However, some remain here year-round so they may also be seen in the state through the rest of the year.
The males have black and glossy bodies, with bright yellow heads and white wing patches. The females are brown, and their heads, though still yellow, are not as vivid in hue.
These blackbirds are larger than the more common red-winged blackbird.
- Scientific Name: Icterus bullockii
- Length: 6.7 – 7.5 in (17 – 19 cm)
- Weight: 1.0 – 1.5 oz (29 – 43 g)
- Wingspan: 12.2 in (31 cm)
These orioles are also members of the family known as new world blackbirds. They begin to arrive in Nevada in March, for the summer breeding season, then depart in late summer or fall.
Some may remain until December but most depart earlier. You are most likely to spot them here between April and September.
The males of this species are bright orange, with black and white on their wings and black head markings.
The females and immature birds are grey, with yellow heads, chests, and tails.
- Scientific Name: Icterus cucullatus
- Length: 7.1 – 7.9 in (18 – 20 cm)
- Weight: 0.8 oz (24 g)
- Wingspan: 9.1 – 11.0 in (23 – 28 cm)
Though only fairly rarely spotted here, these Orioles also spend the breeding season in the south of the state.
You are most likely to see them in southern areas of Nevada between March and October, though will rarely spot them further north.
The males are bright orange or bright yellow, with black feathers on their backs and throats. The females and immature members of the species are more yellow, with gray wings.
- Scientific Name: Icterus parisorum
- Length: 9.1 in (23 cm)
- Weight: 1.1 – 1.4 oz (32-41 g)
- Wingspan: 12.6 in (32 cm)
Though these are not commonly seen through most of the state, those in the southeastern region of Nevada may be lucky enough to spot them since they sometimes breed here over the summer months.
They are most commonly spotted in this part of the state between mid-March and September.
This is a large and distinctive oriole species. The males have black heads and backs and bright yellow bellies.
The females are paler yellow underneath, with olive-brown backs.
- 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)
Though they are rarely spotted here, Bobolinks are recognized as regularly occurring in Nevada and can occasionally be seen here between May and November.
The males in their breeding plumage are famed for their yellow head patches, which look like blonde hair.
Their backs are white and their undersides are black. Non-breeding males and females are brown-streaked, with dark lines around their eyes and stripes on the crowns of their heads.
- Scientific Name: Agelaius tricolor
- Length: 7.1 – 9.4 in (18 – 24 cm)
- Weight: 1.4 – 2.6 oz (40 – 75 g)
- Wingspan: 10.2 – 13.0 in (26 – 33 cm)
Tricolored blackbirds are very rarely spotted in Nevada and are considered an endangered species.
However, they may occasionally be seen in the state, having traveled from their native area of California.
Once found in their millions, there are now only tens of thousands of breeding pairs.
The males have red wind patches, like the red-winged blackbird, but these patches have a white line underneath. The females are dark gray-brown with mottled undersides.
Their plumage is darker and less streaked than female red-winged blackbirds.
Accidental or vagrant species that have been spotted (rarely) in Nevada include the Rusty blackbird, bronzed cowbird, common grackle, Baltimore oriole, and Orchard oriole.
But the species listed above are the main species to look out for in this state.