15 Popular Black and White Birds in Oklahoma (Ultimate Guide + Pictures)

Millions of acres of woods and riparian forests exist across Oklahoma. It’s possible to see different bird species that flock to the area for the breeding season or exist there throughout the year. Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher or just like to know what you saw, an identification guide is a good way to hone your identification skills to recognize any bird that catches your eye.

You may see birds with contrasting dark and light feathers in Oklahoma that include nuthatches, chickadees, starlings, loons, woodpeckers, stilts, and buntings.

Discover these common dark and light bird species in Oklahoma that you might see from your yard or during your next walk in the woods.

Black and White Birds in Oklahoma

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1. The European Starling

  • Scientific name: Sturnus vulgaris
  • Diet: Mostly insectivorous
  • Habitat: Fields, parks, and suburban areas
  • Lifespan: 2 years
  • Size: 9 inches
  • Weight: 3 ounces
  • Wingspan: 15 inches

It’s important to know that the European Starling isn’t indigenous to the United States. Instead, Shakespeare fans first introduced the iridescent dark bird speckled with white spots in New York in 1890 because they wanted America to contain all the bird species mentioned by the 16th-century English playwright William Shakespeare. 

From its interesting start on our shores, the European Starling population has exploded across the U.S. In Oklahoma City, starlings’ numbers have increased to the point where residents consider them a nuisance. They’re usually visible in parks, suburban areas, and plowed farmland where they scavenge for insects and small invertebrates year-round. 

These chunky songbirds look dark and white from a distance, but up close, these basic contrasting feathers shimmer with green, blue, and purple iridescent tones. Check out their incredible, synchronized flight patterns next time you see a flock of starlings take to the sky.

2. The Red Winged Blackbird

  • Scientific name: Agelaius phoeniceus
  • Diet: Usually insectivore and seasonal herbivore  
  • Habitat: Marshes and brushy fields
  • Lifespan: 2 years
  • Size: 9 inches
  • Weight: 4 ounces
  • Wingspan: 14 inches

You’re probably familiar with a male Red-wing Blackbird’s colorful black, yellow, and red plumage. But female birds look completely different with distinct dark bodies and white wings.

These birds tend to hang out in scrub areas, wetlands, and fields filled with brushy undergrowth where they hunt for insects in the summer and plant seeds in colder months. You might need to refill backyard feeders more often in an area that has lots of Red-Winged Blackbirds since flocks of them tend to descend on backyards, hog the feeders, and steal all the bird seed.

3. The White Breasted Nuthatch

  • Scientific name: Sitta carolinensis
  • Diet: Both herbivore and insectivore
  • Habitat: Usually deciduous woods and groves
  • Lifespan: 1 or 2 years
  • Size: 5 inches
  • Weight: 1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 9 inches

It’s hard to tell male and female versions of White-Breasted Nuthatches apart at a distance. Both genders have pale face stripes and belly, and a back that is streaked with black and blue-gray feathers. Their short tail balances out their thick, no-neck body that ends with a short, pointy bill. They may have a russet wash on their underside towards the tail.

Check for a dark cap on males and a light gray cap on females.

These birds are everywhere in the state. They are usually found in wooded areas, preferring the edges of old, deciduous woods. They are also attracted to peanuts, sunflower grains, and suet.

4. The Carolina Chickadee

  • Scientific name: Poecile carolinensis
  • Diet: Usually insectivore. Winter herbivore
  • Habitat: Coniferous forests or mixed woods
  • Lifespan: 2 years
  • Size: 4 inches
  • Weight: 3 ounces
  • Wingspan: 7 inches

Despite its name, this bird species makes its home in Oklahoma year-round. They are chubby birds with no neck and snowy cheeks that look distinctive against a dark cap and bib. Their pale belly may have rusty washes under their gray and jet-black wingtips.  

It’s possible to see these birds hopping around urban areas, yards, and among oak trees in streamside woods. At a backyard feeder, they enjoy suet, sunflower seeds, and peanut hearts.

5. The Northern Mockingbird  

  • Scientific name: Mimus polyglottos
  • Diet: Largely insectivore
  • Habitat: Deciduous forests
  • Lifespan: 5 years
  • Size: 10 inches
  • Weight: 1 or 2 ounces
  • Wingspan: 14 inches

You may hear the Mockingbird’s song on spring and summer nights in Oklahoma. Some people report that they have to close their windows to shut out the bird’s loud music in order to get some sleep. 

This bird has a distinct, dark, and white body, pale, and a thin tail with contrasting dark and light feathers.

Mockingbirds are known for scaring other birds away from backyard bird feeders even though they typically don’t feed there themselves.

6. The Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

  • Scientific name: Pheucticus ludovicianus
  • Diet: Herbivore and insectivore
  • Habitat: Parks, gardens, and woods
  • Lifespan: 4 years
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Weight: 1 or 2 ounces
  • Wingspan: 12 inches 

A Rose Breasted Grosbeak is a fat bird that is the size of a robin. While males have dark wings and a crimson wash on their snowy chests, you can tell them apart from robins by their scarlet, rather than rusty, chest patch and thick, wedge-shaped bills. Female birds have browner plumage.

In Oklahoma, you might see these birds enjoying a sunflower seed meal at a bird feeder or frequenting overgrown spaces in forests or suburban parks.

7. The Snow Bunting

  • Scientific name: Plectrophenax nivalis
  • Diet: Mostly granivorous
  • Habitat: Roadsides and open fields
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Size: 5 inches
  • Weight: 1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 12 inches

Oklahoma isn’t a typical place to find Snow Buntings, but it’s possible to catch rare, non-breeding sightings as far south as the state. These unique-looking birds breed and nest in the tundra climate above the Arctic Circle. Their southern flights usually take them to more northern states, but the farthest reaches of their migration map range can take them off course into Oklahoma.

These lovely birds are as round as walnuts with thick bills used for grain and seed-eating. While males are as white as snow with distinct dark feathers across the back, females have dowdier, streaked brown and white plumage.

If you do spot them in the state, it’s likely to be in open countryside where they can pick up grain, berries, seeds, or insects.

8. The Common Goldeneye

  • Scientific name: Bucephala clangula
  • Diet: Usually carnivore
  • Habitat: Rivers and lakes
  • Lifespan: 9 years
  • Size: 19 inches
  • Weight: 1 or 2 pounds
  • Wingspan: 28 inches

There are many riparian forests that fringe Oklahoma’s rivers, playa, and oxbow lakes. It’s in these places that you’re most likely to glimpse the vivid Goldeneye in its natural habitat.

This iridescent diving duck has a sleek and shimmering green head with pale washes on the face, and golden eyes. Look for pale bodies topped with jet-colored feathers on the back and tail. A female duck has a pale ring around her neck and feathers in browner shades.

Watch for these birds near dead trees since they like to lay their eggs in dead tree hollows during their breeding season. When they’re not on land, they’re diving deep underwater where they can stay for up to a minute to catch fish and other food.

9. The Hairy Woodpecker

  • Scientific name: Dryobates villosus
  • Diet: Largely insectivore
  • Habitat: Parks, forests, and yards
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Size: 10 inches
  • Weight: 3 ounces
  • Wingspan: 14 inches 

This giant woodpecker is the biggest woodpecker that you’ll see in Oklahoma. It has longer, hairier quills, snowy tail feathers, black dashes along their heads, a red crest, and a beak that they use to chisel insects out of tree bark that distinguishes it from its smaller cousins.

These birds are likely to spend time in yards that contain old-growth coniferous or deciduous trees. During the winter, they also come to eat suet or peanuts from a bird feeder.

10. The Common Loon

  • Scientific name: Gavia immer
  • Diet: Primarily aquatic carnivore
  • Habitat: Ponds, lakes, and lagoons
  • Lifespan: 15 to 28 years
  • Size: 30 inches
  • Weight: 11 pounds
  • Wingspan: 43 inches

Lakes and marshes are home to the elusive loon and its eerie song. You can recognize this bird from its sleek, coal-black body, checkered dice pattern on the back, short paddling legs set far back, and dark head topped with a thick, pointed beak shaped like a weapon. They swim fast, attacking and gulping down their prey, without coming to the water’s surface.

These birds aren’t likely to wander into your average backyard. They spend most of their time in the water where their territorial and mating cries create tremolo music that’s impossible to forget.

11. The Blackpoll Warbler


  • Scientific name: Setophaga striata
  • Diet: Usually insectivore
  • Habitat: Evergreen forests, mixed woods, and willow groves
  • Lifespan: 4 years
  • Size: 5 inches
  • Weight: 1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 8 inches

A flash of jet, gray, and white feathers in the Oklahoma woods or along a creek may mean that you have sighted this interesting little songbird. For identification, check out the dark cap atop their heads, pale face, and gray bars across their wings.

These migratory birds scout for insects in rural areas, shrubs, and forests to fuel up for their long flight to South American climates.

12. The Lark Bunting

  • Scientific name: Calamospiza melanocorys
  • Diet: Usually insectivore
  • Habitat: Treeless grasslands
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Weight: 1 or 2 ounces
  • Wingspan: 11 inches

This bird belongs to the sparrow family. It is often seen hopping along the ground picking up insects. A male bird has a coal-black body, eyes as black as a crow, white slashes along its wings, and a wedge-shaped bill.

They’re known to take off at a hard run when they chase down fast insects or scare other birds away from their breeding grounds.

13. The Loggerhead Shrike

  • Scientific name: Lanius ludovicianus
  • Diet: Carnivorous  
  • Habitat: Brush, open fields, and rural roads
  • Lifespan: 5 years
  • Size: 9 inches
  • Weight: 1 or 2 ounces
  • Wingspan: 3 inches  

This busty bird has no neck and a black mask like the Lone Ranger. While most of its body is a pale, grayish white, it has washes of snow on its throat and underbelly, dark wingtips, and tail.

Don’t let their chubby look fool you. These birds are avian predators that can take down other small birds and mammals, lizards, and invertebrates. They usually perch on fence posts or other tall objects to watch for their prey in the air or grass.  

While they aren’t attracted to bird feeders, shrikes might leave unwanted little presents of dead insects or other prey snagged on fences for their next meal.

14. The Black Necked Stilt

  • Scientific name: Himantopus mexicanus
  • Diet:  Carnivore
  • Habitat: Freshwater lakes, pools, mudflats, and marshes
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Size: 14 inches
  • Weight: 5 ounces
  • Wingspan: 28 inches

A Stilt has long, skinny pink legs built for wading that give it its name. The top part of their body is dark with white feathers on their underparts. These birds have red eyes with a white area around them. They use their bills shaped like needles to spear and eat fish, mollusks, and other aquatic creatures.

Stilts are usually found wading in shallow, open water. These aren’t backyard birds. In fact, they can scare off people by running up to them, screeching, flapping their wings, and striking out with their legs from behind. If you’re lucky, you might also glimpse their dramatic courtship display.

15. The Black-Billed Magpie

  • Scientific name: Pica hudsonia
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Habitat: Yards, roads, and fields
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Size: 20 inches
  • Weight: 6 ounces
  • Wingspan: 24 inches 

A native to Oklahoma’s panhandle, the big black magpie is a year-round resident in the American West. Due to a gradual loss of their plains habitat, western magpies have declined in the state for the past sixty years. Their migration habits are altitudinal rather than seasonal.

You can recognize them by their beady black eyes, broad black head, throat, and chest, and iridescent blue-black wings with white tips that look pasted onto their white underbody.

Their bills are thick, dark, and curved slightly at the end, while their long, sword-shaped green-black tail splits into two at the tip when in flight.  

These birds are both herbivores who enjoy seeds and carnivorous scavengers that often clean up roadkill and spit up their food pellets over the ground. 

Their call sounds like a harsh chatter with a purling note at the end. In winter, you might see them roosting in flocks that resemble crows. The difference is that magpies spread out instead of huddling together in tight packs.  

These magpies don’t mind humans and spend lots of time sitting on nearby fenceposts or pecking away at backyard bird feeders.

Final Thoughts

Oklahoma has many beautiful species of birds that have neutral and contrasting shades of plumage. Some birds are visible in the state all year, while you might only notice other species during migration.

Whether you’ve spotted an Oklahoma bird on land or on water, this list will enable you to recognize it and identify its name. 

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