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

Virginia’s black and white birds are as varied as the state’s diverse landscape. That’s because Virginia is home to birds that live near marshes or coastlines, perch on fences along country roads, hang out in suburban parks and backyards, or make forests or mountains their habitat.

When you spot a black and white Virginia bird, this helpful guide will help you match the description with the bird you just saw. Some common birds that you might spot in Virginia range from warblers, chickadees, and juncos to woodpeckers, snow buntings, and loons. 

Black and White Birds in Virginia

Start birdwatching and identifying today with these 10 popular black and white birds in Virginia.

Check out these other popular birds’ posts:

1. Blackpoll Warbler

  • Scientific name: Setophaga striata
  • Diet: Insectivore
  • Habitat: Pine or mixed woods, and willow trees
  • Lifespan: 5 years
  • Size: Around 5 inches
  • Weight: Up to an ounce
  • Wingspan: 7 to 8 inches 

A Blackpoll Warbler loves to flirt near pine and deciduous forests and streams shadowed by willows. These songbirds have a mix of black, white, and gray body feathers. A black cap contrasts with a white face and gray wing bars.

Blackpoll Warblers are known to fly long distances to reach South America, so it’s possible to catch them loading up on insects near woods or creeks in Virginia before they set off for warmer weather.

2. Dark-Eyed Junco

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

These black-eyed feathered friends have puffy charcoal gray feathers that deepen to black shades on their back and a white underside. With round butterball bodies, Dark-Eyed Juncos also have thick pale pink beaks that enable them to pluck seeds and catch insects.

It’s common to see these birds flocking to local parks, fields, and backyards to hunt for scattered seeds during the winter, but they are usually only found in coniferous areas during the spring and summer.

3. White Breasted Nuthatch

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

Both male and female White-Breasted Nuthatches look very similar unless you can get close with your binoculars to spot the subtle differences. They each sport a white stomach, black back feathers with a bluish tint, and white cheek stripes. Watch for males, who will have a black cap, and females, with a lighter gray head.

White-Breasted Nuthatches are popular in Virginia. They frequent older stands of non-evergreen woods. They also enjoy bird feeders stuffed with sunflower seeds, mealworms, suet, or shelled peanuts.

4. Carolina Chickadee

  • Scientific name: Poecile carolinensis
  • Diet: Mostly insectivore. Seasonal herbivore
  • Habitat: Mixed pine and deciduous trees
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Size: 5 inches
  • Weight: About 3 ounces
  • Wingspan: 6 to 7 inches

It’s no surprise that the Carolina Chickadee is a common sight just one state up from the state that gives it its name. In fact, it’s possible to see this chunky bird in Virginia around the year. Watch for its white underside with gray wings, black wing tips, and rusty underwing patches. Its startling white cheeks contrast with a black cap and bib. 

Carolina Chickadees are often spotted in both city yards and near rural creeks and oak woods. When they appear at backyard feeders, usually in the winter, they consume sunflower seeds, shelled peanuts, and suet.

5. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

  • Scientific name: Dryovates pubescens
  • Diet: Insectivore 
  • Habitat: Orchards, deciduous woods, creeks, rivers, and shady backyards
  • Lifespan: 2 years
  • Size: About 7 inches
  • Weight: 1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 12 inches

A Downy Woodpecker is a heart-warming sight against any winter landscape. Many of them also live in Virginia throughout the year. Look for their white belly feathers, streaky black and white dotted backs, and blunt beaks. Males wear a signature red cap on their heads.

Downy Woodpeckers love to peck away at backyard trees and grab a bite of nectar, suet, peanuts, or sunflower seeds from hanging feeders.

6. Hairy Woodpecker

  • Scientific name: Dryobates villosus
  • Diet: Insectivore
  • Habitat: Woods, backyards, and parks
  • Lifespan: 2 or 3 years
  • Size: 11 inches
  • Weight: Up to 3 ounces
  • Wingspan: 13 inches 

The Hairy Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker that you can spot in Virginia. In contrast to the smaller Downy Woodpecker which has a pointed beak, Hairy Woodpeckers have a thicker chisel beak that helps them remove insects from the bark. Hairies also have stiffer feathers, a white tail, and a block-shaped head marked with distinctive black streaks. 

Most Hairy Woodpeckers hang out in backyards or woods shaded by mature evergreen or leafy trees. In winter, it’s common to see them appear at feeders full of peanuts or suet.

7. Snow Bunting

  • Scientific name: Plectrophenax nivalis
  • Diet: Granivorous
  • Habitat: Open pastures and sides of roads
  • Lifespan: 2 or 3 years
  • Size: About 5 inches
  • Weight: Around an ounce
  • Wingspan: Up to 12 inches

Snow Buntings are a rare but possible sight in Virginia. These splendid chubby birds spend the breeding season high above the Arctic Circle, but when they fly south, they usually land in the northern states.  

Look for snowy bellies and striking black back feathers and a thick beak to help you identify this bird. If you’re lucky enough to see a Snow Bunting, it will probably be in an open, rural area such as fields or farmland full of berry bushes, weed seeds, insects, or scattered grain.

8. Common Loon

  • Scientific name: Gavia immer
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Habitat: Marshes, lakes, and ponds
  • Lifespan: Up to 28 years
  • Size: 28 inches
  • Weight: 10 pounds
  • Wingspan: 42 inches

You may hear this bird’s eerie chuckles and tremolo cries before you catch sight of its smooth black feathers covered in a checkerboard pattern and distinct black head with a sharp thick beak used for stabbing fish fast.  

These elusive birds are fast swimmers who attack and swallow their prey underwater. They inhabit lonely wetlands and sheltered lakes where they breed, communicate with their mates, and ward off threats with their loud, quavering calls.

9. Black Necked Stilt

  • Scientific name: Himantopus mexicanus
  • Diet: Mostly carnivore
  • Habitat: Lakes, marshes, and mudflats
  • Lifespan: 8 or 9 years
  • Size: 13 inches
  • Weight: Up to 5 ounces
  • Wingspan: 26 inches

This unique black and white waterbird is easily identified by its dark back and wings, white bellies, and long, thin pinkish legs. Look for bright red eyes with white rings and needle-thin beaks for further identification.

These birds aren’t likely to wander into most backyards. Instead, they haunt shallow waters without lots of vegetation or mudflat areas. If you get to see them during mating season, they put on a fantastic wooing display.

10. Black-Billed Magpie

  • Scientific name: Pica hudsonia
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Habitat: Roadsides, pastures, and backyards
  • Lifespan: 4 years
  • Size: 18 inches
  • Weight: 5 or 6 ounces
  • Wingspan: 22 inches

This huge black bird likes to scavenge along fields and roads for anything from seeds to roadkill. You might recognize them around the year in Virginia by their thick, black heads and chests, glistening bluish-black wings, and dramatic white wing tips above a white body. Their blackish-green tails snap open like scissors when they fly. They also have round black eyes and thick, curved black beaks.

Often seen in flocks, magpies enjoy watching for food from a fencepost or diving in to consume seed from a backyard feeder.

Final Thoughts

Spring and autumn breeding and migration seasons are a great time to spot a new bird or witness bird flocking behavior. 

Whether you want to tell a Junco apart from a Chickadee or want to increase your knowledge about characteristics that distinguish different types of black and white birds in Virginia, this guide will help you get started.