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

From peaceful estuaries to rolling hills and plateaus, this Sylvan state has a lot to offer birdwatchers and bird lovers. There’s also a rich variety of black-and-white-colored birds that can keep you guessing if you’ve spotted a chickadee or a warbler.  

This mid-Atlantic state offers a central location for resident black-and-white two-toned birds such as Juncos, Warblers, and several Chickadee varieties in addition to occasional migratory visitors like the Snow Bunting.  

Black and White Birds in Pennsylvania

Name up to 10 popular black and white birds in Pennsylvania with this identification guide. 

You also shouldn’t miss these other top picks in this category:

1. Black-Capped Chickadee

Poecile atricapillus

  • Scientific name: Poecile atricapillus
  • Diet: Mostly insectivore and invertivore. Seasonal frugivore.
  • Habitat: Deciduous and evergreen trees
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Weight: 4 ounces
  • Wingspan: 8 inches

A bouncy Black-Capped Chickadee is a sprightly addition to any backyard landscape. It’s possible to spot this little fellow (or female) around the year in Pennsylvania. You can distinguish the Black-Capped Chickadee by its ball-shaped, white-feathered body, white stripes on the cheeks, and a black cap that gives the bird the first part of its name.

You’re most likely to spot them in woods that are mixed with conifers, local parks, or even your backyard where they consume a varied diet of insects, seeds, and suet.

2. Blackpoll Warbler

  • Scientific name: Setophaga striata
  • Diet: Insectivore
  • Habitat: Pines, cottonwoods, willow trees or mixed forests
  • Lifespan: 4 years
  • Size: 5 inches
  • Weight: 1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 8 inches

Spot a flicker of black and white feathers near a stream surrounded by willow trees or mixed woods? If this songbird has white, gray, and black feathers with a white face, black cap, and gray bars on its wings, then it’s likely a Blackpoll Warbler.

These plucky little travelers breed and nest each spring and summer in more northern states before they take off for South America for the winter. This means that you’re more likely to see them passing through as they fuel up on bugs in Pennsylvania for the long trip south.

3. White-Breasted Nuthatch

  • Scientific name: Sitta carolinensis
  • Diet: Insectivore and herbivore
  • Habitat: Deciduous woods
  • Lifespan: 2 years
  • Size: 4 inches
  • Weight: 1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 8 inches

White-Breasted Nuthatches have white bellies, white stripes on their cheeks, and bluish black wings and black feathers. Look for the black cap and hood that extends down the nape of this bird’s neck (male) and a short, black tail for further identification. 

These popular Pennsylvania birds divide their time between mature deciduous woodlands and plucking seeds, peanuts, or mealworms from bird feeders.

4. Carolina Chickadee

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

It can be challenging to tell a Black-Capped Chickadee apart from a Carolina Chickadee. The best way to tell these black and white songbirds apart is to check if the black cap extends crisp and sharp to the nape (Black-Capped Chickadee) or if it fades into gray-white feathers (Carolina Chickadee). The Carolina Chickadee also has faint, pale brown washes along the wings near the chest.

Look for these songbirds near streams, mixed woods, and even your backyard, especially in the winter when they come to hunt for seeds.

5. Dark-Eyed Junco

  • Scientific name: Junco hyemalis
  • Diet: Insectivore and herbivore
  • Habitat: Fields, roads, yard, and parks
  • Lifespan: 4
  • Size: 7 inches
  • Weight: 1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 10 inches 

This chubby bird with a trilling song is another black and white songbird that stands out particularly well against a Pennsylvania winter’s snowy landscape. Look for a soft white underpart topped by a completely black head, chest, and back. The wings look layered in black shades. They also have a light pink bill.

Dark-Eyed Juncos are frequent backyard visitors in the winter when they look for seeds. In April through September, however, they remain in evergreen woods areas.

6. Bufflehead

Bufflehead

  • Scientific name: Bucephala albeola
  • Diet: Mostly aquatic insectivore and invertivore
  • Habitat: Rivers, ponds, and lakes near open, mixed forests or burned groves
  • Lifespan: 2 to 3 years
  • Size: 13 to 16 inches
  • Weight: 10 to 20 ounces
  • Wingspan: 24 inches

Bufflehead is a small sea duck with a slick, black-green head, black back, white body, and a large white patch at the back of the head. This black and white bird spends winter in most parts of Pennsylvania.

The omnivorous and monogamous Bufflehead spends most of its time under the water hunting for insects and crustaceans in sheltered inland coves and ponds.

7. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

  • Scientific name: Dryovates pubescens
  • Diet: Insectivore 
  • Habitat: Mature trees in yards, orchards, woods, and near bodies of water
  • Lifespan: About 2 years
  • Size: 7 inches
  • Weight: 1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 12 inches

Look for these little mottled black and white birds pecking for insects at the bark of old backyard trees or in deciduous woods. They have white underparts and a red cap (males).

Downy Woodpeckers are also frequent backyard feeders where they consume suet, sunflower seeds, shelled peanuts, and even pinch nectar from hummingbird feeders.

8. Snow Bunting

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

While these birds fly to the Arctic Circle to breed, they are sometimes found in mid-Atlantic states such as Pennsylvania when they migrate south to winter.

A Snow Bunting has a pure white body with a bold black back and thick beak. Should you spot a Snow Bunting, it’s likely to be in a rural field or farm area where it bobs around looking for seeds, berries, bugs, or grain.

9. Eastern Kingbird

  • Scientific name: Tyrannus tyrannus
  • Diet: Insectivore
  • Habitat: Yards, fields, and marshes
  • Lifespan: 2 or 3 years
  • Size: 9 inches
  • Weight: 2 ounces
  • Wingspan: 15 inches

The Eastern Kingbird is another popular bird that catches its insect prey in mid-air. It has a black back and head, a white stomach, and a black tail with a white tip. Usually spotted throughout the breeding season in Pennsylvania, the Eastern Kingbird then migrates to South America until next spring.

10. Hooded Merganser

  • Scientific name: Lophodytes cucullatus
  • Diet: Piscivore
  • Habitat: Rivers, ponds, and lakes
  • Lifespan: 12 years
  • Size: 1 to 1.5 feet
  • Weight: 2 pounds
  • Wingspan: 26 inches

A Hooded Merganser is a crested duck that eats fish in Pennsylvania’s woodland streams. These small, white-bodied ducks have shimmering black-green heads, black backs, and a small red bill. Look for the long, rounded tail and signature collapsible crests on the head that are shaped like a fan.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a year-round Pennsylvania resident or on a visit, there are plenty of intentional and accidental opportunities to find interesting black and white birds across the region. Just check our guide for some of the most common black and white birds that you may spot in the state.