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12 Stunning BLACK Birds With YELLOW Heads (Photo Guide)

Black birds with yellow heads are a captivating sight, showcasing nature’s vibrant color combinations.

In this article, we will explore several distinct species that exhibit this striking feature. From the famous Yellow-headed Blackbird to the regal Regent Bowerbird, the charismatic Bobolink, and the dazzling Golden-headed Manakin, each bird has its unique characteristics and habitat preferences.

Here’s what each of these looks like.

Black Birds With Yellow Heads

1. Yellow-headed Blackbird

yellow headed blackbird with white stripes on its shoulders
  • Scientific name: Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
  • Lifespan: 11 years
  • Wingspan: 15 inches
  • Found In: North America

The Yellow-headed Blackbird is undoubtedly the most renowned among the black birds with yellow heads.

This medium-sized blackbird can be found west of the Mississippi River. Its sleek black plumage contrasts beautifully with its golden yellow head and white-spotted black wings. The bill, legs, and feet of this bird are also black.

While visually stunning, the Yellow-headed Blackbird’s vocal talents leave much to be desired. Its song has been likened to the unpleasant sound of a rusty farm gate creaking open. Despite this, the species thrives in large winter flocks, with some groups numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

During the summer, they inhabit the west-central United States and Canada, while in winter, they migrate to the western United States, from California to Texas, and even as far south as Mexico and Central America.

Omnivorous in nature, these birds forage on the ground, consuming a diverse diet of seeds, spiders, grasshoppers, grains, nuts, and aquatic insects during the summer, while primarily feeding on seeds during the winter months.

2. Regent Bowerbird

regent bowerbird
Dominic SheronyCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons (edited)
  • Scientific name: Sericulus chrysocephalus
  • Lifespan: 20-30 years
  • Wingspan: n/a
  • Found In: Australia

The Regent Bowerbird hails from the enchanting landscapes of Australia, specifically the rainforests and leafy coasts of eastern Australia, extending up to central Queensland. Its name commemorates a prince regent of the United Kingdom.

This medium-sized bird showcases an exquisite combination of black plumage with striking bright gold on its head and wings. Female Regent Bowerbirds, on the other hand, sport a more subdued, speckled olive coloration.

What sets the male Regent Bowerbird apart is its remarkable bower-building behavior. Males construct intricate ground structures called bowers to attract females. These bowers are adorned with colorful objects, fruits, snail shells, and sometimes even fragments of blue plastic.

A bowerbird's nest called bower
A Bower

Males also create a muddy greyish blue or pea green “saliva paint” using their mouths, which they use to decorate their bowers. While there has been debate about whether they use tools such as bundles of leaves to apply the paint, this notion has recently been criticized.

Polygyny is a characteristic of male Regent Bowerbirds, as they mate with multiple females and leave them to build nests and raise the chicks alone.

3. Bobolink

  • Scientific name: Dolichonyx oryzivorus
  • Lifespan: 2-9 years in the wild
  • Wingspan: 10.6 in
  • Found In: North and South America

The Bobolink is a small black songbird recognized by its large, somewhat flat head, short neck, and short tail. These birds are colloquially known as “rice birds” due to their preference for feeding on cultivated grains during the winter.

They have an omnivorous diet, primarily consisting of seeds and insects. Male Bobolinks exhibit a striking contrast between their mostly black plumage and the buff-yellow coloring on the back of their heads (napes), as well as white scapulars, lower backs, and rumps. Females, in contrast, display a predominantly light brown coloration with black streaks on their back and flanks.

Remarkably, Bobolinks embark on extensive long-distance migrations, traveling over 12,000 miles to and from central South America each year. Over the course of its lifetime, a single Bobolink may cover a distance equivalent to four or five laps around the planet!

These birds are polygynous, but they also frequently exhibit polyandry, resulting in multiple fathers for each clutch of eggs laid by a single female. A group of Bobolinks is aptly referred to as a “chain.”

4. Golden-headed Manakin 

golden headed manakin
Mike & ChrisCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons (edited)
  • Scientific name: Ceratopipra erythrocephala
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Wingspan: n/a
  • Found In:  Northern South America

The Golden-headed Manakin is a small and plump bird that inhabits wet and dry forests, as well as secondary growth and plantations. Found predominantly in tropical South America, this bird boasts a jet-black coloration, complemented by a yellowish beak and a glistening golden crown and nape.

Females and juveniles, on the other hand, display olive-green plumage with pink legs. During the breeding season, male Golden-headed Manakins engage in captivating displays within permanent leks, consisting of 6 to 15 birds. These displays involve energetic movements such as jumping, sliding, and darting between perches, often accompanied by the whirring of wings and buzzing zit-zit calls.

Golden-headed Manakins have an omnivorous diet, consuming fruits and a variety of insects.

5. Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture

lesser yellow headed vulture
HarmonyonPlanetEarthCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons (edited)
  • Scientific name: Cathartes burrovianus
  • Lifespan: n/a
  • Wingspan: 59-65 in
  • Found In: Mexico, Central America, and South America

The Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, also known as the savannah vulture, is the smallest and lightest of the extant New World vultures. Despite its classification as “lesser,” it is still a fairly large bird that resembles its counterpart, the Greater Yellow-headed Vulture.

These vultures can be found in savannas, wetlands, and other open areas. The Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture boasts black plumage with a green sheen, while its defining feature is the vibrant yellow featherless head and neck. Its piercing red eyes stand out against its plumage. Interestingly, the vulture’s upper eyelid has a single incomplete row of eyelashes, while the lower lid has two rows.

This species inhabits seasonally wet or flooded lowland grasslands, swamps, and heavily degraded former forests across Mexico, Central, and South America. Known for their keen sense of smell, Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures possess the ability to locate food, making them one of the few bird species worldwide with this exceptional olfactory capability.

As scavenging raptors, they primarily feed on carrion, showing a preference for fish and small aquatic animals in marshes. Unlike many other bird species, Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures do not build nests. Instead, they lay eggs on the ground, cliff ledges, caves, or tree hollows.

6. Greater Yellow-headed Vulture

greater yellow headed vulture
TonyCastroCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons (edited)
  • Scientific name: Cathartes melambrotus
  • Lifespan: n/a
  • Wingspan: 65-70 in
  • Found In: South America

The Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, a close relative of the Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, exhibits a glossy black plumage adorned with a prominent yellow unfeathered head. The head displays shades of blue and red, further enhancing its striking appearance.

This large bird, also known as the forest vulture, can be found in undisturbed tropical forests and heavily forested areas that provide ample shelter. Like its lesser counterpart, the Greater Yellow-headed Vulture relies on its remarkable sense of smell to locate carrion as its primary food source.

Despite their association with scavenging, these vultures are relatively quiet and seldom engage in aggressive behavior while feeding, even when in close proximity to other vulture species. Greater Yellow-headed Vultures are typically solitary or found in pairs, only forming groups when a carcass is discovered.

Read More: 20+ examples of stunning large black-colored birds

7. Violet Turaco

violet turaco close up
  • Scientific name: Musophaga violacea
  • Lifespan: up to 30 years
  • Wingspan: 8-9 in
  • Found In: West Africa

The Violet Turaco is a large bird native to West Africa. It derives its name from its rich purple-black plumage, with crimson wing and head patches, which stem from a copper-based pigment known as “turacine.” These vibrant colors contribute to the turaco’s distinctive appearance.

Easily identifiable by their crimson heads, yellow foreheads, and bright orange beaks, Violet Turacos exhibit omnivorous feeding habits. Their diet includes fruits, leaves, buds, flowers, seeds, insects, snails, and slugs.

These magnificent birds primarily inhabit tropical savannas, wetlands, woodlands, and forests. With a potential lifespan of up to 30 years and a wingspan ranging from 8 to 9 inches, Violet Turacos bring a burst of color to the diverse avian fauna of West Africa.

8. Golden Crested Myna

golden crested myna
lwolfartistCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons (edited)
  • Scientific name: Ampeliceps coronatus
  • Lifespan: 15-20 years
  • Wingspan: n/a 
  • Found In: Asia

The Golden Crested Myna is a glossy black bird distinguished by its bright yellow head and wings. Males typically exhibit a more extensive yellow coloration on their heads compared to females, while both sexes possess orange beaks.

While their primary habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, Golden Crested Mynas can also be found in heavily degraded former forest areas. These birds have a varied diet, consisting mostly of insects and fruits, with occasional consumption of small fish and lizards.

The term “myna” carries a joyful connotation, originating from the Sanskrit word “madana,” meaning joyful or delightful. This Sanskrit term is derived from the root word that signifies “bubbles,” aptly capturing the lively and exuberant nature of these charismatic birds.

Read More: Examples of black-colored birds with yellow on wings

9. Cockatiel

  • Scientific name: Nymphicus hollandicus
  • Lifespan: 16-25 years in captivity
  • Wingspan: 15-20 in
  • Found In: Australia

Cockatiels are the smallest members of the cockatoo family, known for their distinctive crests, or tufts of feathers, on top of their heads. These birds are endemic to Australia and come in a variety of color mutations, with 22 known variations.

In the wild, the normal grey cockatiels exhibit dark gray-black plumage with a bright yellow head, orange cheeks, and white wing stripes. They are intelligent, friendly, and relatively easy to care for, making them popular pets, especially for first-time bird owners.

Cockatiels have playful tendencies and enjoy looking at their own reflection in a mirror. They may even dance to music, displaying their entertaining nature.

Interestingly, when a cockatiel loses its partner, it may experience feelings of loneliness and grief, leading to reduced appetite or even refusal to eat. In the wild, males stay with their partners and chicks, protecting them from larger birds and predators.

Read More: Examples of black birds with red wings

10. Saffron-cowled Blackbird

saffron cowled blackbird
Dario NizCC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons (edited)
  • Scientific name: Xanthopsar flavus
  • Lifespan: n/a
  • Wingspan: n/a
  • Found In: South America

The Saffron-cowled Blackbird is a striking marshbird found in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Males exhibit bright golden-yellow heads and black upperparts, tails, napes, and loral lines. Females, on the other hand, have olive-brown crowns and upperparts.

These yellow-headed blackbirds inhabit marshes and natural grasslands, where they typically forage in flocks on the ground. Their diet primarily consists of insects and spiders, making them carnivorous birds.

Unfortunately, the population of the Saffron-cowled Blackbird is in decline due to habitat loss, resulting in its endangered status according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Want to see what black birds look like with red plumage? Check this article.

11. Golden-cheeked Warbler

golden cheeked warbler
Steve Maslowski/U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons (edited)
  • Scientific name: Setophaga chrysoparia
  • Lifespan: up to 10 years
  • Wingspan: 8 in
  • Found In: North and Central America

The Golden-cheeked Warbler is an endangered bird species that exclusively nests in the state of Texas, making it unique among North American birds.

These warblers migrate to Mexico and Central America during the winter months, returning to Texas in March to raise their chicks. Easily identifiable by their rich black plumage and golden yellow heads and cheeks, Golden-cheeked Warblers have white underparts, including the tail.

Although they are visually striking, these birds can be challenging to find as they often forage within vegetation. Due to their endangered status, it is prohibited to attract males using song playback.

Golden-cheeked Warblers are insectivores, feeding on a variety of insects, spiders, and caterpillars as their primary food sources.

We also have an article with examples of black and blue birds. Read it here.

12. White-necked Rockfowl

white necked rockfowl
White-necked_Rockfowl_(Picathartes_gymnocephalus).jpg: Michael Andersen from Lawrence, United States derivative work: Sabine’s SunbirdCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons (edited)
  • Scientific name: Picathartes gymnocephalus
  • Lifespan: n/a
  • Wingspan: n/a
  • Found In: West Africa

The White-necked Rockfowl, also known as the Picathartes, is a large and distinctive bird with grayish-black plumage and a bright chrome yellow and black featherless head. Its underparts are white, and it possesses a long neck and tail, which aid in balancing.

These birds primarily inhabit rocky forested areas at higher altitudes in West Africa, often near flowing streams and rivers where they can access wet mud for constructing their nests. White-necked Rockfowls are monogamous, with pairs nesting either alone or in close proximity to other pairs, occasionally forming colonies with up to eight nests.

Considered one of Africa’s most sought-after birds by birdwatchers, the White-necked Rockfowl has experienced a rapid decline in population. It is estimated that fewer than 10,000 individuals of this species exist today, emphasizing the need for conservation efforts to protect these unique birds.

Read More: 13+ examples of blue birds in Pennsylvania

In Summary 

This concludes our list of black birds with yellow heads. 

Examples of yellow-headed black birds include the bobolink, lesser yellow-headed vulture, greater yellow-headed vulture, beautiful regent bowerbird, famous yellow-headed blackbird, and many others.

Next time, should you see these birds in person, you should be able to recognize any of them with ease!

And if you enjoyed our article, here are our other popular reads on birds: 17+ incredible birds that have green heads and 20+ birds that have green and yellow plumage

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