12 Amazing Black Birds With Yellow Heads (Photos+Fun Facts)

Yellow is an attention-grabbing color associated with the sun while the black color is a symbol of elegance and mystery.

That’s why seeing a black bird with a yellow head can instantly brighten your day and inspire confidence, joy, optimism, sophistication, and growth in you. 

The list of yellow-headed black birds includes the well-known yellow-headed blackbird, beautiful regent bowerbird, birds of prey like the lesser and greater yellow-headed vulture, golden crested myna, and many others. 

Here is the list of the top 12 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
Color: Black with golden yellow head
Found In North America

Yellow-headed blackbird, the most famous of the black birds with yellow heads, can generally be found from the Mississippi River westward.

This medium-sized blackbird is easy to recognize by its black plumage color, golden yellow head, and white spots on black wings. Bill, legs, and feet are black.

The bird is pretty on the eye, but not on the ears – people describe its singing as the worst of any North American bird, sounding like a rusty farm gate opening.

Yellow-headed blackbirds are migratory birds that form large groups in winter, with some flocks estimated to be with hundreds of thousands of individuals. 

During summer, they are in the west-central United States and Canada. During winter, yellow-headed blackbirds can be seen in the western United States from California to Texas and south to Mexico and Central America.

These birds are omnivores, often foraging on the ground. They eat seeds, spiders, grasshoppers, grains, and nuts – aquatic insects in the summer and seeds in the winter.


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
Color: Coal-black with a bright yellow head
Found In: Australia

This medium-sized bird is native to Australia and can be found throughout the rainforests and leafy coasts of eastern Australia, all the way up in central Queensland. Its name commemorates a prince regent of the United Kingdom.

Incredibly beautiful and intelligent, male regent bowerbirds are black with stunning bright gold on their head and wings. Females have a dull, speckled olive color.

Male regent bowerbirds are known for building bowers, the ground structures to attract females. They will decorate their bowers with colorful objects, different types of fruits, snail shells, and pieces of blue plastic. 

Males will also mix a muddy greyish blue or pea green “saliva paint” in their mouths and use it to decorate their bowers. Some authors claim that these birds sometimes use bundles of leaves to apply the paint which would be one of the few uses of tools in birds. However, this idea has recently been criticized.

Male regent bowerbirds are polygynous, they will mate with several females and then let them build the nest and raise the chicks alone.


3. Bobolink

bobolink

Scientific name: Dolichonyx oryzivorus
Lifespan: 2-9 years in the wild
Wingspan: 10.6 in
Color: Black with a buffy-yellow head
Found In: North and South America

Bobolinks are easy to recognize by their large, somewhat flat heads, short necks, and short tails. These small songbirds are sometimes called “rice birds” for their tendency to feed on cultivated grains during winter. They are omnivores that mainly eat seeds and insects.

Male bobolinks are mostly black with buff-yellow backs of their heads (on the napes), white scapulars, lower backs, and rumps. Females are mostly light brown with black streaks on the back and flanks.

These long-distance migrants travel over 12,000 miles to and from central South America each year – during a lifetime, one bobolink may travel the same distance as four or five laps around the planet. 

Bobolinks are polygynous but also often polyandrous. This means that each clutch of eggs laid by a single female may have multiple fathers.

A group of bobolinks is known 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
Color: Jet black with a glistening golden head
Found In:  Northern South America

The golden-headed manakin is a small plump bird that can be found in wet and dry forests, secondary growth, and plantations. 

Males have a distinctive jet black color with a glistening golden crown and nape. Females and juveniles are olive-green and have pink legs. 

It is one of the most interesting black birds with yellow heads that breeds in tropical South America. 

Males have fascinating breeding season displays. They will gather in permanent leks, usually with 6 to 15 birds. Each bird will occupy a horizontal perch and use different displays to attract females. Males will jump, slide and dart from perch to perch, often whirring their wings and making buzzing zit-zit calls.

These birds are omnivores that eat fruit and some 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
Color: Black with yellow head
Found In: Mexico, Central America, and South America

Also known as the savannah vulture, the lesser yellow-headed vulture is the lightest and smallest of the extant New World vultures. It can be found in savannas, wetlands, and other open areas. Despite its “smaller size”, it is a fairly large bird that looks similar to a greater yellow-headed vulture. 

Talking about the appearance, the lesser yellow-headed vulture has black plumage with a green sheen, a yellow featherless head and neck, and red eyes. The eye has a single incomplete row of eyelashes on the upper lid and two rows on the lower lid. 

This vulture’s habitats include seasonally wet or flooded lowland grassland, swamps, and heavily degraded former forests of Mexico, Central, and South America.

They are one of the few bird species in the world known for the keen sense of smell they use to locate food. The lesser yellow-headed vultures are scavenging raptors that mostly feed on carrion. They prefer to eat fish, but will also hunt for food, especially small aquatic animals in marshes.

Lesser yellow-headed vultures do not build nests but 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
Color: Dark glossy black with a deep yellow head
Found In: South America

The greater yellow-headed vulture has a glossy black plumage with a yellow unfeathered head that has shades of blue and red in it. Once considered the same species like the lesser yellow-headed vulture, this large bird is also known as the forest vulture. 

Greater yellow-headed vultures are one of the black birds with yellow heads that can be found in the Amazon Basin of tropical South America, in undisturbed tropical forests and heavily forested areas where they can shelter. 

They also feed on carrion located using their strong sense of smell. Greater vultures are quiet, and rarely engage in aggressive behavior while feeding close to each other, and to other vulture species. 

These birds are often found solitary or in pairs, rarely in groups, except when they find a carcass.


7. Violet Turaco

violet turaco close up

Scientific name: Musophaga violacea
Lifespan: up to 30 years
Wingspan: 8-9 in
Color: Violet-black with red and yellow head
Found In: West Africa

The violet turaco, also known as the violet plantain-eater, is a large bird that got the name for its rich purple-black plumage. It has crimson wing and head patches that come from a copper-based pigment called the “turacine”, giving it the name “turaco”. 

Violet turacos are easy to recognize by the crimson on their heads, yellow foreheads, and bright orange beaks.

Read More: 30+ examples of birds that have orange beaks

They are omnivores that feed on fruits, leaves, buds, flowers, seeds, insects, snails, and slugs. 

Violet turacos mostly inhabit tropical savannas, wetlands, woodlands, and forests.


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 
Color: Glossy black with a bright yellow head
Found In: Asia

Golden crested myna is a conspicuous glossy black bird with a bright yellow head and wings. Males have a more extensive yellow on the head than females. Both sexes have orange beaks.

Their main habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest, but golden crested mynas can be also found in heavily degraded former forests.

These birds mostly feed on insects and fruits, sometimes on small fish and lizards.

The word “myna” means “bubbling with joy”, coming from a Sanskrit “madana” meaning joyful or delightful, which is derived from the root meaning “bubbles.”


9. Cockatiel

cockatiel

Scientific name: Nymphicus hollandicus
Lifespan: 16-25 years in captivity
Wingspan: 15-20 in
Color: Black-gray with bright yellow head
Found In: Australia

The smallest member of the cockatoo family, cockatiels are known for the tuft of feathers on top of their head, called a crest. Endemic to Australia, these birds come in many color mutations, 22 to be precise. 

In the wild, the normal grey cockatiels are dark gray-black with a bright yellow head, orange cheeks, and white stripes on each wing.

These birds are intelligent, friendly, and easy to take care of – making them ideal starter birds for new pet owners.

Cockatiels enjoy looking at their reflection in the mirror and will sometimes dance to the music. 

When a cockatiel loses a partner, it may eat very little or may even stop eating because of loneliness. In the wild, males will stay with their partners and chicks, keeping them safe from larger birds and predators.


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
Color: Black and yellow
Found In: South America

Saffron-cowled blackbird is a striking, black-and-yellow marshbird found in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Males have bright golden-yellow heads and black napes, upperparts, tails, and loral lines. Females are with olive-brown crowns and upperparts.

Saffron-cowled blackbirds are found in marshes and natural grasslands, where they mostly forage in flocks on the ground. They are carnivorous and feed on insects and spiders.

The population of this beautiful bird is in decline due to habitat loss and it is listed as endangered species by IUCN.


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
Color: Rich black and white with bright yellow head (face)
Found In: North and Central America

This endangered bird is the only bird species whose population nests entirely in the state of Texas. In July, golden-cheeked warblers leave to spend the winter in Mexico and Central America and return to the state in March to raise their chicks.

They are easy to recognize by their rich black plumage and golden heads and cheeks. Underparts, including the tail, are white.

If you go looking for one of North America’s prettiest birds, arm yourself with patience, as golden-cheeked warblers are a bit harder to find since they often forage inside vegetation. You should know that because they are an endangered species, it is prohibited to attract males using song playback.

These birds are insectivores and feed on various forms of insects, spiders, and caterpillars.


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
Color: Grayish-black and white with chrome yellow head
Found In: West Africa

Although not completely black, this large and unusual bird has greyish-black color and a bright chrome yellow and black featherless head. The underparts are white and the neck and tail are long and used for balance.

The white-necked rockfowl is mainly found in rocky forested areas at higher altitudes in West Africa, near flowing streams and rivers with access to wet mud for constructing its nest. 

The white-necked rockfowl is monogamous and pairs nest either alone or close to other pairs, sometimes in colonies with as many as eight nests.

It is considered one of Africa’s most desired birds by birders and its population has been declining rapidly, with an estimate of fewer than 10,000 individuals in existence today.

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’s another popular read on birds: 17+ incredible birds that have green heads

Similar Posts