10 Popular Black and White Birds in Missouri (Ultimate Guide + Pictures)

If you’ve ever driven through the beautiful Ozarks or rolling, piney hills of Missouri, you might have noticed the state’s stunning black and white bird life.

From chickadees, juncos, and nuthatches to kingbirds, buffleheads, and loons, there are many common black and white birds that you might notice in local bodies of water to your own backyard. 

Black and White Birds in Missouri

Discover how to identify up to 10 popular black and white birds in Missouri.

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1. Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadee

  • Scientific name: Poecile carolinensis
  • Diet: Insectivore and herbivore
  • Habitat: Coniferous and deciduous woods
  • Lifespan: 2 years
  • Size: 5 inches
  • Weight: 3 ounces
  • Wingspan: 7 inches 

A Carolina Chickadee is a welcome flash of black and white against a summer landscape in Missouri. These birds are seen year-round in the state where you can identify them by their thick bodies with zero neck, white cheek patches, and a smooth black bib and cap. The wings are grayish-black with a white belly. Look for rusty patches under its wings and black wing tips 

You’re most likely to see this bird dipping in and out of backyard feeders pecking for seeds or nabbing insects or weed seeds across woods and parks. 

2. White-Breasted Nuthatch

  • Scientific name: Sitta carolinensis
  • Diet: Insectivore
  • Habitat: Older coniferous woodlands
  • Lifespan: 2 years
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Weight: 1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 10 inches 

This attractive bird has a short tail and a thick bill. Check for black and charcoal gray wings, white chest and cheek streaks, and a black hat. It’s common to see White-Breasted Nuthatches in Missouri around the year.

Look for them in many yards, parks, or deciduous woods since they enjoy both sunflower seeds and bugs that live in shady areas. 

3. Black-Capped Chickadee

  • Scientific name: Poecile atricapillus
  • Diet: Mostly insectivore
  • Habitat: Mixed deciduous and evergreen woods
  • Lifespan: 2 years
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Weight: 4 ounces
  • Wingspan: 8 inches

These merry little birds have a distinct “chick-a-dee” song and a distinct black cap topping thick white bands across the cheeks, a white belly, and dark wings and tails.

In contrast to the Carolina Chickadee, the other most popular Ohio Chickadee has whiter plumage, a bold black cap, and stark white cheek patches. Listen for their “chick-a-dee” song echoing through mixed evergreen and cottonwood trees in woods, parks, and yards where they consume berries, seeds, and insects.

4. Eastern Kingbird

  • Scientific name: Tyrannus tyrannus
  • Diet: Insectivore
  • Habitat: Yards, fields, and swamps
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Size: 8 inches
  • Weight: 2 ounces
  • Wingspan: 15 inches 

This bird is mostly seen as a passing migrant since it breeds in northern states and then heads back to South America during winter. An Eastern Kingbird has a black head, black back, a bold white belly, and a dark tail with a white tip.

You can look for them sitting on a fence post, telephone wires, or bushes where they snap up their insect prey on the wing.

5. Northern Mockingbird

  • Scientific name: Mimus polyglottos
  • Diet: Insectivore, herbivore, fructivore, and invertivore
  • Habitat: High tree top canopies in open woodlands
  • Lifespan: 5 years
  • Size: 11 inches
  • Weight: 2 ounces
  • Wingspan: 15 inches 

This impressive songbird has a loud song and a bold black-and-white body. Its colorations are a soft blend of pale grayish-black on the head, back, and belly, while the wings are shaded in subtle patterns of black and white. It has a long, thin tail that spreads into a fan-shape when it takes flight.

If you want to spot these birds eating a variety of bugs, seeds, berries, and small invertivores, the best place to look for them is at the tops of tall trees in open wooded spaces. Although they might appear in your yard, they don’t eat seed in bird feeders and instead prefer to chase other birds from the area.

6. Dark-Eyed Junco

  • Scientific name: Junco hyemalis
  • Diet: Insectivore and herbivore
  • Habitat: Parks, yards, edges of roads, fields, and coniferous woods
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Weight: 1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 9 inches

A Dark-Eyed Junco is a mostly black bird with white feathers on its belly. The head, back, chest, and wings are all composed of smooth black plumage. It has a small, ink, wedge-shaped beak. 

These birds are ubiquitous visitors to many places such as roadside thickets, parks, and yards in Missouri, especially while hunting for seeds in the winter. During the breeding season, they prefer the shaded stretches and insect paradise of coniferous woods.

7. Common Loon

  • Scientific name: Gavia immer
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Habitat: Lakes, marshes, and ponds
  • Lifespan: 28 years
  • Size: 30 inches
  • Weight: 12 pounds
  • Wingspan: 44 inches

Loons can have a distant, ghostly wailing sound that can sound quite startling if you aren’t prepared for it. These elegant black birds have a black head, a checked collar, and a gorgeous black-and-white checkerboard back. Males have an iridescent black-green band around the neck.

Often called “northern spirits”, both male and female Loons have red eyes and a thick black bill that they use like a dagger to catch fish underwater.

8. Common Goldeneye (Male)

  • Scientific name: Bucephala clangula
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Habitat: Creeks, rivers, and lakes
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Size: 20
  • Weight: 2 pounds
  • Wingspan: 28 inches 

A Common Goldeneye looks anything but common. Instead, these striking birds have pure white bellies tipped with black and fan-shaped black wings with white splotches like paintbrush strokes that fold back onto their black backs while swimming. Males have glossy black heads with iridescent jewel-green tones, yellow eyes, and white patches near a scooped black bill.  

These birds divide their time between floating on the water and diving underwater to consume fish and aquatic vegetation.

9. Hairy Woodpecker

  • Scientific name: Dryobates villosus
  • Diet: Insectivore
  • Habitat: Woods, parks, and yards
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Size: 2 inches
  • Weight: 4 ounces
  • Wingspan: 14 inches

A Hairy Woodpecker is a big bird with a bright white belly, a black and white horizontal striped head, a long, pointed beak like a spike, and black and white checked marks on the wings. You can tell them apart from Downy Woodpeckers because they are not only 30% larger, but have a black vs. a spotted tail, and a bill that is as long as its head.  

Woodpeckers, as their name suggests, spend a lot of time drumming at tree trunks to extract insects, but they also love to come to backyard feeders for a meal of peanut butter and suet.

10. Bufflehead

  • Scientific name: Bucephala albeola
  • Diet: Mostly insectivore
  • Habitat: Lakes and ponds near mixed woods
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Size: 16 inches
  • Weight: 20 ounces
  • Wingspan: 24 inches

It’s hard to miss a Bufflehead against the Missouri landscape. That’s because this sea duck has bold white belly feathers, a large black head covered with glossy magenta and green washes, and a huge white ear cap.

These birds often migrate into the state in spring and love to submerge themselves in small, sheltered bodies of water to forage for bugs, invertivores, and crustaceans underwater.

Final Thoughts

When you’re trying to identify a strange black and white bird in Missouri, it’s important to consider the kind of habitat in which the bird lives. For example, if a bird lives in a wetland area, check out the characteristics of ducks and other waterbirds.

Once you observe the habitat and understand which kinds of birds live in those areas, you’ll find yourself much better equipped to identify a new bird on the wing

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