5 Black Birds with Yellow Beaks

Several black birds have yellow beaks, making it easy to spot them, despite their often-elusive nature. But several black birds with yellow beaks look very similar, so how can you tell them apart?

I’ll discuss 5 common black birds that sport a yellow beak, and help you identify and distinguish them from one another when visiting your backyard.

Common Blackbird

Also known as the Eurasian Blackbird, this yellow-billed bird is native to parts of Europe, North Africa and West Asia. It has been introduced to parts of Australia and New Zealand.

Apart from its bright, yellow beak, the Common Blackbird also has a yellow ring around its eyes. Other than these, the plumage of the Eurasian Blackbird is a deep, glossy black.

In summer, juveniles can feature a duller black plumage with pale spotted backs and breasts. Adult males are slightly heavier than females (4 ounces vs 3.5 ounces on average). They measure 12-14 inches in length without the tail feathers.

This black bird enjoys a variety of habitats including inland woods, coastal wetlands, gardens, parks, riverbanks, farmlands with hedges, and any other wooded area.

You’ll spot the Common Blackbird feeding on lawns and in the field, pulling earthworms out of the ground or feeding on insects. As an omnivorous bird, it also feeds on seeds and berries.

Among its natural predators, the most common are domestic cats, foxes, and predatory birds like the sparrowhawk.

European Starling

Native to Europe, the European Starling has been introduced to other parts of the world and now we think of them as globally distributed.

In North America, they were first introduced in 1890, when 100 European Starlings were released in New York. Today’s European Starlings located in North America are believed to be the descendants of those 100 starlings.

Unlike the pitch-black Common Blackbird, the European Starling has iridescent plumage, which gives it a colorful appearance.

They also change the colors of their feathers with the seasons, without shedding their feathers. Their feathers turn from spotted and light colors in winter to dark iridescent purple, green feathers in summer.

The European Starling has a stocky appearance and features a short tail. It’s also a strong flier that can reach speeds of around 48 mph.

European starlings can be found living in a wide range of areas including parks, cities and towns, woodlands with trees or shrubs.

They’re also omnivorous birds and ground foragers feeding on fruits, seeds, insects, invertebrates, and even on mice or other bird’s eggs.

Although in many areas they’re deemed invasive. Because they travel in large groups, they’re often extremely noisy and perceived as a nuisance.

Black Thrush

Native to Central America and Mexico, this yellow-billed songbird has deep black plumage. The female thrush, however, has dark brown feathers.

Unlike the European Starling that feels equally at home in a city or a forest, the Black Thrush is predominantly found in forests but will also inhabit parks or gardens near human settlements. They enjoy humid, moist environments.

Although in lowlands, they can be seen foraging the ground, they prefer feeding off fruiting trees and bushes.

Besides fruit, the Black Thrush will also feed on insects, worms, small snakes and lizards, and even amphibians.

Although their population is in a decreasing trajectory, they’re not considered a vulnerable bird species.

Common Myna

Although it’s native to Australia and South Asia, the Common Myna has been introduced to other parts of the world as well, including Hawaii and New Zealand.

Unlike the birds I discussed so far, the Common Myna is much larger and more aggressive.

Although it also has a yellow beak, it’s the yellow mark on its eyes that makes the Common Myna instantly recognizable.

Its feathers are brown with darker tips. The feathers on the head of the Common Myna are also darker, creating a hood of sorts over its head.

They’re an omnivorous bird, feeding on fruit, seeds, grains, and insects such as crickets, locusts, grasshoppers, and beetles.

An interesting trait of the Common Myna is related to their breeding behavior. These birds are believed to pair for life.

They make their nests in a hole in a tree or on a wall. They’re also known to take over nests of other birds, often evicting the chicks of other pairs.

Because of the rapidity at which their populations are increasing, Common Mynas are considered an invasive species and a pest problem in many regions including Australia, where it’s believed to be a threat to biodiversity.

Yellow-billed Magpie

Part of the crow family of birds, the Yellow-billed Magpie is identical to the Black-billed Magpie, except for its yellow beak and yellow streak around its eyes.

Unlike its all-black counterpart, which can be found in most of North America, the Yellow-billed Magpie is isolated to California, and hence adapted to hot summers, better withstanding heat stress than its black-billed counterpart.

Unfortunately, the species has been affected by the West Nile virus, loss of habitat and even rodent poison.

Because they’re foraging birds, they’re often seen on the ground feeding on insects but also acorns and fruit. They also don’t shy away from picking through garbage and hunting rodents.

This yellow-billed bird prefers open woodlands and builds its nests on trees. Its nest is dome-shaped and built on high branches of trees in a spot protected by predators.

As social birds, they are often seen nesting together with other magpies, although they can exhibit territorial behaviors.

A trait that I find especially interesting about these birds is that they’ve been observed to engage in funeral-like rituals for their dead. They’ve been observed to gather around a dead magpie and call out loudly for several minutes.

Wrap Up

This concludes my overview of the 5 black birds with yellow beaks. Hopefully, you can now better identify which yellow-billed you’re seeing next time you spot one.

In fairness, the Black Thrush and the Common Blackbird are the most similar of the 5 black birds with yellow beaks, the others all have distinctive features that makes it easy to tell then apart.

Leave a Comment