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

There are many black and white birds that live in or migrate to Utah’s gorgeous canyons, plateaus, and rock formations.

Some of these interesting western birds are common in many states, such as Juncos, Nuthatches, and Chickadees, while others such as Snow Buntings and Western Grebes only appear in the state during nesting or migration.

Black and White Birds in Utah

Just grab our guide and match up identifying characteristics of these 10 popular black and white birds in Utah to get started.

Check out these other popular bird posts:

1. Black-Billed Magpie

  • Scientific name: Pica hudsonia
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Habitat: Yards, roads, and fields
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Size: 18 inches
  • Weight: 6 ounces
  • Wingspan: 22 inches 

If you see a big black bird with iridescent blue-black wings, a broad curved bill, a white belly, and bold white-tipped wings, chances are that you’ve spotted the Black-Billed Magpie. Look for a black-green scissor-shaped tail during flight for further identification.

While you might notice a single Magpie sitting on a fence or foraging for seeds in a field, it’s also common to see these birds arriving in flocks at backyard feeders.

2. Black-Capped Chickadee

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

It’s common to see the Black-Capped Chickadee throughout the year in Utah, but they are often most visible at backyard feeders during wintertime. This bird has a fluffy white body, white cheeks, and a black cap on its head.

Black-Capped Chickadees spend their time in areas such as woods, parks, and yards that have mixed conifer and deciduous trees such as cottonwoods where they eat insects, berries, snails, suet, and sunflower seeds.

3. Dark-Eyed Junco

  • Scientific name: Junco hyemalis
  • Diet: Insectivore and herbivore
  • Habitat: Fields, sides of roads, yards, and parks
  • Lifespan: 2 or 3 years
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Weight: 1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 9 inches

This dark-eyed beauty has a chubby figure with charcoal-gray feathers above a white belly, a black back, and black wings. Look for their thick pale pink beaks used for catching insects and cracking seeds for more identifying characteristics.  

Watch for these birds that can flock to hunt for seeds in colder months everywhere from yards to roads, fields, and parks. In the summer months, they stick to evergreen woods.

4. Downy Woodpecker

  • Scientific name: Dryovates pubescens
  • Diet: Insectivore
  • Habitat: Yards, orchards, parks, and deciduous woods
  • Lifespan: 3 or 4 years
  • Size: 7 inches
  • Weight: 1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 11 inches

A Downy Woodpecker is a small black and white bird with streaky and spotty black and white feathers. It has a red cap and a small sharp beak.

They are often seen drilling away at the trunks of mature, deciduous trees in woodlands, parks, or backyards. These interesting little birds also love to sip nectar from hummingbird feeders or consume sunflower seeds and peanut butter from regular bird feeders.

5. Snow Bunting

  • Scientific name: Plectrophenax nivalis
  • Diet: Mostly granivorous
  • Habitat: Roadsides and open fields
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Size: 5 inches
  • Weight: 1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 10 to 12 inches

While Snow Buntings Breed north of Canada past the Arctic Circle, they can migrate to western states such as Utah in the winter. Look for a chunky, almost completely snow-white bird with bold black feathers and a black back. A small, thick black beak completes identification. 

When seen, these birds are busy picking up insects, weed seeds, berries, or grain in open fields.

6. Common Loon

  • Scientific name: Gavia immer
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Habitat: Lakes, ponds, and marshes
  • Lifespan: 28 years
  • Size: 28 inches
  • Weight: 10 pounds
  • Wingspan: 42 inches 

The loon’s voice is a loud, tremolo shout or chuckle that can catch you off guard if you hear the eerie sound echoing across a secluded wetland. Look for a black body with a black and white checked pattern below a sleek, curved black head and a dagger-like fishing bill.

Loons are swift swimmers and spend a lot of time underwater fishing and consuming their prey in remote, marshy areas.

7. Loggerhead Shrike

  • Scientific name: Lanius ludovicianus
  • Diet: Carnivore 
  • Habitat: Fences, posts, thorny underbrush, and shrubs
  • Lifespan: 6 years
  • Size: 10 inches
  • Weight: 2 ounces
  • Wingspan: 14 inches

A Loggerhead Shrike is usually observed perching on a barbed wire fence or a nearby fencepost watching for bugs, small birds and animals, and lizard prey. They have a pale grayish-white body, black wings, and a broad black mask across the face.

These birds don’t usually frequent backyard feeders, but they might leave you unwelcome presents of dead birds, insects, or small animals hung on fences or thorny shrubs for future snacking purposes.

8. Clark’s Nutcracker

Black and White Birds in Utah

  • Scientific name: Nucifraga columbiana
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Habitat: Trees in high, remote areas
  • Lifespan: 15 years
  • Size: 12 inches
  • Weight: 6 ounces
  • Wingspan: 24 inches

With a body the size of a Blue Jay, Clark’s Nutcracker is an omnivorous eater with a gray-white belly and head, bright black eyes, black wings, and white tail underparts.

Watch for these birds in lonely, evergreen spaces at high-elevation tree lines above 3,000 feet. Sometimes mistaken for a woodpecker in the air, Clark’s Nutcracker emits a noisy “kraak” call while flying. On the ground, they pick up bugs, berries, pine nuts, bird eggs, baby birds, carrion, and just about anything else that they can get their beaks on.

9. Barrow’s Goldeneye

  • Scientific name: Bucephala islandica
  • Diet: Insectivore, herbivore, and invertivore
  • Habitat: Pounds, lakes, and marshy places at high elevation
  • Lifespan: About 18 years
  • Size: 20 inches
  • Weight: 2 pounds
  • Wingspan: 30 inches

A big duck with a bold pattern, Barrow’s Goldeneye is a striking sight with its smooth black head, white throat, and undersides, and black back, tail, and wings. Look for white daube patterns on its wings, a black slightly curved beak, and yellow eyes ringed with white circles and a white mark under the eyes.

These long-lived ducks are often spotted during winter in elevated forested area lakes or ponds where they eat a variety of insects, water vegetation, and crustaceans.

10. Western Grebe

Western Grebe

  • Scientific name: Aechmophorus occidentalis
  • Diet: Mostly aquatic carnivore
  • Habitat: Marshes and lakes with reeds
  • Lifespan: Up to 10 years
  • Size: 30 inches
  • Weight: 4 pounds
  • Wingspan: 40 inches 

A Western Grebe is a slender and graceful black and white water bird that is usually found in inland lakes or marshes in Utah during the breeding season. Look for a white neck like a swan, a long dagger-shaped beak, a black back, a black cap, and white marks on the cheeks. Notice their bright red eyes for further identification.

Western Grebes court their mates, fish, and nest on the surface and near the edges of secluded lakes and wetlands.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re birdwatching in your backyard, out on one of Utah’s 2,000 lakes, or taking a hike through the Rocky Mountains, there are many opportunities to spot black and white avian wildlife in the state.

Maybe one of these popular black and white Utah birds will become your next favorite.

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