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

Birds with contrasting feather patterns are a popular sight in Wisconsin, from forests and streams to roadside thickets, and even suburban backyards.

Many of the usual bird species spotted in Wisconsin include Black-Capped Chickadees, Blackpoll Warblers, White-Breasted Nuthatches, Loons, Downy, Pileated, or Hairy Woodpeckers, and unusual or threatened birds like the Snow Bunting or Western Grebe.

If you’ve spotted a unique bird out in Wisconsin, this guide should help you figure out what kind of bird you just saw.

Popular Black and White Birds in Wisconsin

You also shouldn’t miss these other related and interesting posts:

1. Dark-Eyed Juncos

  • Scientific name: Junco hyemalis
  • Diet: Herbivore and insectivore 
  • Habitat: Pine forests, roadsides, parks, and backyards
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Size: 6 to 7 inches
  • Weight: Half an ounce to 1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 6 inches

These medium-sized birds have big dark eyes and a white belly topped by dark gray, almost black, plumage.

If you’ve seen a silky bird with dark charcoal and white feathers hopping around in coniferous woods, fields, parks, or your backyard, it’s likely a Dark-Eyed Junco. Hundreds of millions of Dark-Eyed Juncos fly in to breed and many of them stay year-round.

Dark-eyed Juncos typically consume seeds, berries, nuts, and insects. Bird feeders don’t attract these lovely birds, who prefer to scavenge birdseed that has fallen to the ground.

2. White-Breasted Nuthatch

  • Scientific name: Sitta carolinensis
  • Diet: Mostly insectivore
  • Habitat: Deciduous forests
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Weight: 1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 10 inches

Their loud, distinctive call that sounds like “yank” repeated over and over, is just one characteristic that makes this bird easy to identify in the Wisconsin woods.

Males and females can look similar. While both have thick bodies, white cheek patches, and stripes on their back, female birds have a gray head patch while males wear black caps.

Nuthatches like to visit forested parks, woods, and backyard bird feeders full of sunflower seeds, mealworms, shelled peanuts, and suet, particularly during cold winter months. 

3. Black-Capped Chickadee

  • Scientific name: Poecile atricapillus
  • Diet: Insectivore, invertivore
  • Habitat: Pine, birch, alder, and willow trees
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Size: 3 to 5 inches
  • Weight: 3 ounces
  • Wingspan: 8 inches

These little birds have a big head crowned with a black patch on their chest and head. They’re often spotted in deciduous woods, gardens, yards, and parks in Wisconsin. 

Black-Capped Chickadees consume a diet of insects, berry fruits, or plant seeds. It’s easy to attract them to your backyard if you provide a variety of sunflower seeds, peanuts, and suet treats in an outdoor feeder.

4. Downy Woodpecker

  • Scientific name: Dryovates pubescens
  • Diet: Insectivore
  • Habitat: Rivers, woods, and forested areas
  • Lifespan: 2 years
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Weight: Half an ounce to 1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 12 inches

You’re most likely to spot a tiny Downy Woodpecker hammering away at a dead tree in forested areas or shaded backyards. They use their short bills to extract insects from tree bark and leave signature rows of holes behind. Males have a bright red hood that contrasts with their streaky bodies and snowy belly feathers.

Fill hummingbird feeders with sugar water and regular bird feeders with sunflower seeds, shelled peanuts, peanut butter, and suet to see more of these little avian visitors. 

5. Northern Mockingbird

  • Scientific name: Mimus polyglottos
  • Diet: Invertivore and insectivore
  • Habitat: Mature forests
  • Lifespan: 5 years
  • Size: 8 to 10 inches
  • Weight: 2 ounces
  • Wingspan: 14 inches

Loud singing and pale and black plumage marked with bold white wing bars and a narrow tail that spreads out like a fan in flight make it easy to identify the Northern Mockingbird.

While most Northern Mockingbirds disdain backyard feeders, they will often try to scare other kinds of birds away. During the winter, they may approach bird feeders filled with mealworms, berries, or fruit.

6. Pileated Woodpecker

  • Scientific name: Dryocopus pileatus 
  • Diet: Mostly insectivore
  • Habitat: Dead coniferous or deciduous trees
  • Lifespan: 12 years
  • Size: 16 to 20 inches
  • Weight: 8 to 14 ounces
  • Wingspan: 28 inches

Since Wisconsin has three kinds of woodpecker species, it’s common to get them mixed p. The Pileated Woodpecker is native to Wisconsin, so you’re likely to see it throughout the year.

Unlike the Downy Woodpecker or the Hairy Woodpecker, the Pileated Woodpecker is much larger than both birds. It also has a bright red crest on its head. This crested cap helps differentiate it from the small red patches on the Downy or Hairy woodpeckers’ heads.

Another big difference that sets Pileated male and female birds apart is a red line (male) or black line (female) that runs from their throat up to their beak. 

Just like other kinds of woodpeckers, this bird spends its time drilling holes in trees to extract insects. They’re also fond of backyard bird feeders filled with peanuts, grain, or suet.

7. Blackpoll Warbler  

  • Scientific name: Setophaga striata
  • Diet: Insectivore
  • Habitat: Evergreen forests, mixed woods, and willow trees along creeks
  • Lifespan: 4 years
  • Size: 5 to 6 inches
  • Weight: A quarter ounce
  • Wingspan: 8 to 10 inches

Known for its delicate, warbling song, sung at such a high pitch that many people can’t hear it, this bird brings a bold black-and-white presence to the Wisconsin landscape.

These birds wear a prominent, jet-black cap above their fluffy white cheeks. Their feathers look dark and white with gray bars across the wings. Blackpoll Warblers are athletic birds that migrate a long distance and usually appear in mixed coniferous and deciduous Wisconsin woods during migration season. Once breeding season ends, they head off to spend the winter in South America.

It’s possible to lure these visitors to your garden if you plant native shrubbery that attracts insects and gives these long-haul migrants a layover spot.

8. Hairy Woodpecker

  • Scientific name: Dryobates villosus
  • Diet: Mostly insectivore
  • Habitat: Woods, parks, and suburban backyards
  • Lifespan: 3 to 4 years
  • Size: 9 to 12 inches
  • Weight: 2 to 4 ounces
  • Wingspan: 15 inches 

This large Hairy Woodpecker is often mistaken for its smaller Downy cousin. Each bird has a white and black body and a crimson cap. You can differentiate between these two birds by their size since the Hairy Woodpecker is bigger.

 While a Downys has a black tail with white spots, a Hairy Woodpecker’s tail is white. Downy Woodpeckers have smaller bills, while their relatives have long, chisel-shaped beaks.

If you want to see more of these beautiful birds, they like mature trees that provide opportunities for harvesting insects. In winter, they also consume suet and peanuts from bird feeders.

9. Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

  • Scientific name: Pheucticus ludovicianus
  • Diet: Insectivore, seasonal herbivore
  • Habitat: Fields, parks, thickets, and yards
  • Lifespan: 5 years
  • Size: 8 inches
  • Weight: 2 ounces
  • Wingspan: 12 inches

If you spot a bird the size of a Robin that definitely isn’t a Robin, there’s a good chance that you’ve just seen a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak. These chunky birds have black backs and wings and a bright red patch against their white fronts. Females usually have duller plumage streaked with brown. Both males and females have large, wedge-shaped bills. 

You’re likely to attract Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks to a shrub-filled yard with plenty of sunflower seeds displayed in a tray, hopper, or platform feeder.

10. Common Goldeneye

  • Scientific name: Bucephala clangula
  • Diet: Mostly carnivore
  • Habitat: Rivers, ponds, and lakes
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Size: 19 inches
  • Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Wingspan: 31 inches

This duck has a dramatic green head with white cheek patches that offset its distinctive yellow eyes. Their backs are black, including their rear feathers, while the rest is covered in white feathers. This water bird is a diving duck that is able to stay underwater for up to a minute to forage for fish and aquatic plants.

These aren’t birds that you’re likely to see in your yard unless you live near a wetland, but you can make your property attractive for Common Goldeneyes by putting out nesting boxes if you’re in a breeding location threatened by forestry practices.

11. Black and White Warbler

  • Scientific name: Mniotilta varia
  • Diet: Mostly insectivore  
  • Habitat: Deciduous woods
  • Lifespan: 4 years
  • Size: 5 inches
  • Weight: Half an ounce
  • Wingspan: 8 to 9 inches

These charming little Wisconsin birds have alternating stripes that make them easier to spot. Look for white bars on black wings, white eyebrows, and black bars just above the eyes. 

It’s common to see these intelligent little birds climbing trees to forage for insects and spiders rather than sifting through leaves and sticks in the forest undergrowth. 

12. Common Loon

  • Scientific name: Gavia immer
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Habitat: Lakes, coves, and bays
  • Lifespan: 12 to 28 years
  • Size: 28 to 30 inches
  • Weight: 10 pounds
  • Wingspan: 44 inches

These aquatic birds can emit a series of eerie, wailing calls that work to scare off predators and help birds locate their mates.

If you’re lucky enough to spot a Common Loon, you can identify them by their large black bodies and check marks across their backs. These strong swimmers have powerful, black-colored heads and thick, dagger-shaped bills that they use to catch fish and aquatic invertebrates below the water’s surface.

These birds are native to Wisconsin where they spend their time hunting, breeding, and nesting near lakes, cranberry bogs, and other wetlands.

13. Eastern Kingbird

  • Scientific name: Tyrannus tyrannus
  • Diet: Primarily insectivore
  • Habitat: Fields, yards, and marshes
  • Lifespan: 2 years
  • Size: 8 inches
  • Weight: 2 ounces
  • Wingspan: 15 inches

Just like its Latin name, the Eastern Kingbird is a tyrant of the air. They are identified by their large black head, black back, white belly, and tail, and long, black bill that is hooked at the tip.

Eastern Kingbirds often sit on tall posts, fences, or roadside telephone wires while they scan the air for insects.

As insectivores, these birds don’t typically visit backyard feeders, but they’re likely to appear if you have a variety of local plants that attract the insect population.

14. Snow Bunting

  • Scientific name: Plectrophenax nivalis
  • Diet: Insectivore and granivore
  • Habitat: Grain fields, shores, and along roads
  • Lifespan: 2 years
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Weight: 1 to 2 ounces
  • Wingspan: 15 inches

The Snow Bunting is a seasonal migratory bird that looks straight out of a winter wonderland. Males and females have white plumage and thick bills. Males have black markings on their wings while female birds have brown-colored streaks.

These birds’ natural habitat is located high up in the bitter Arctic tundra. They migrate south to Wisconsin in September and winter over into April and May before they return to their nesting grounds in the far north.

While Snow Buntings favor open grasslands, lakeshores, and roadsides where they can forage for insects, berries, and seeds, they occasionally appear at backyard bird feeders.

15.Western Grebe 

  • Scientific name: Aechmophorus occidentalis
  • Diet: Carnivore (fish)
  • Habitat: Reedy lakes and marshes
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Size: 20 to 30 inches
  • Weight: 2 to 4 pounds
  • Wingspan: 30 to 40 inches

It’s rare to spot these beautiful aquatic birds along Wisconsin shorelines since they prefer lakes hidden deep inland or in secluded marshes during the summer breeding season. Once breeding season ends, Western Grebes take a flight to the warmer Pacific to live out the rest of the year.  

These slim water birds have long, white, swan necks that end in a dagger bill that they use for spearing fish on deep underwater dives. The top part of their body is black, including a black cap, except for white cheek patches. Their eyes are a blood-red color.

If you spend time birdwatching near Western Grebe breeding spots, you may be lucky enough to view their magical display of courtship. If a male and female intend to breed soon, they will surge out of the water together, run across the surface of the lake, and then finish the mating dance with a coordinated dive.

Final Thoughts

There are lots of fascinating bird species to spot in Wisconsin. From water birds to warblers and avian carnivores, these unique and striking birds are often seen during migration periods or stay around the year. 

The next time you see one of these birds in Wisconsin, this guide can better assist with identification.

Leave a Comment