5 Black Birds with Yellow Head

Because of the contrast between the dark plumage and the yellow-colored feathers covering the head, these black birds are easy to spot.

In some of these birds, the yellow feathers cover only part of the head, while in other birds the entire head and breast is covered in yellow, creating a hooded effect.

Here are my top choices when it comes to black birds with a yellow head:

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Male Yellow-headed Blackbirds are a striking sight – the bright yellow feathers cover the head all the way to the breast of the bird and contrast beautifully with the deep black plumage on the rest of the body. There’s also a touch of white on the wings.

As is the case with many other birds, the male Yellow-headed blackbird is more colorful compared to the female.

Females are brown instead of the deep black plumage and even their yellow head is a lighter shade of yellow. In females, the yellow feathers also cover a lesser part of the head compared to the male Yellow-headed blackbird.

Relatively large blackbirds, they have a length of around 8.3-10.2 inches. They breed in loose colonies and male Yellow-headed blackbirds will mate with several females.

These blackbirds feed on insects, grains, and seeds. As a ground forager it often overwinters in farm fields or agricultural fields.

They prefer marshes to set up their nests in various marsh shrubs. Because they nest close to the water, nestlings can often fall into the water.


A grasslands ground forager, the Bobolink is another black bird that sports a pale yellow or creamy nape.

Other parts of its body aren’t fully black either – its lower backs, rumps and scapulars are white. They molt twice a year, changing their feathers completely.

They feed on seeds, insects and other grains. They breed in North America and migrate to South America for the winter.

Because they’re migratory songbirds, they can travel distances of as much as 12,500 miles (20,000 km). Throughout their lifetimes, they can travel as much as 5 times the circumference of the earth.

They build their nests in fields overgrown with vegetation. They build their nests on the ground, hidden in the vegetation. Female Bobolink birds usually lay 5 or 6 eggs.

Unfortunately, the Bobolink is an at-risk species in Canada and Nova Scotia. One factor that endangers their population is early hay harvesting, which doesn’t allow enough time for juvenile birds to fledge.

Golden-cheeked Warbler

Photo by Isaac Sanchez CC BY 2.0

A small bird, measuring only 4.7-5.1 inches in length, the Golden-cheeked Warbler is another example of a black bird with a yellow head.

Just like the Bobolink, this bird too has white markings on its otherwise black plumage. It has a white belly and white streaks on its wings.

The bird can be found in state parks throughout Texas and it’s considered to be endemic to Texas and Mexico.

The Golden-cheeked Warbler is an active forager, and its diet is entirely made up of insects. It feeds on caterpillars, spiders and various other insects. It can pluck them out of tree branches but is also able to catch them mid-flight.

They build their nests primarily in juniper trees. Their preference for juniper is even reflected in their nest-building habits, all nests contain juniper bark. The female builds the nest alone.

Golden-cheeked Warblers are rarely spotted in suburbs, preferring juniper-oak woodlands as their habitat.

The Golden-cheeked Warbler is facing rapid loss of habitat, reducing their population to the point where it’s on the conservation red watch list.

Hermit Warbler

Another warbler with a yellow head, the Hermit Warbler is around 5.5 inches in length and features a golden yellow head with a black throat, dark gray back and a beady black eye. There are also some white markings on the wings.

The preferred habitat of the Hermit Warbler is coniferous forests in mountainous areas. It enjoys pine, redwood, fir, Douglas-fir, sequoia and spruce trees.

The Hermit Warbler spends its summers in the west coast of the United States and migrates south during the winter to Central America and as far as Panama.

Just like other warbler, this too feeds on a diet of insects and spiders. It probes for food on the branches of trees. It’s often seen hanging upside-down from the branches of pine trees.

The bird builds its nest high, near the tip of conifer branches. The nest is built out of twigs, pine needles, grass, and stems.

The Hermit Warbler is closely related to the Golden-cheeked Warbler I described above, but also to the Townsend’s Warbler I’m going to discuss next.

Townsend’s Warbler

The Townsend’s Warbler can be found foraging in the dense foliage of coniferous treetops. It’s a small bird with only 4.7-5.0 inches in length. It’s a colorful songbird with an enchanting singing voice.

The color pattern of the plumage certainly deserves recognition – the black head and throat contrasts well with the bright golden cheeks, yellow breast, and black cheek patches.

The back feathers are olive-green and there are also white wing bars and bold black flank streaks to complete the look.

During breeding they prefer the coniferous forests of northwestern coast of North America, when migrating they can be found in the highlands of Mexico and Central America. Some Townsend’s Warblers will winter in south-western United States.

Like other warblers, the Townsend’s will feed on small insects and larvae. In winter, they feast on the sugary excretions of scale insects.

Female Townsend’s Warblers usually construct the nest. They might start out building it in one tree, then have a change of heart and move the nest to a different tree.


If you want to spot black birds with yellow heads, you may need to head out to the forest since many of them prefer to keep away from urban settlements. They’re either foliage gleaners or ground foragers.

Some of these birds are endangered because of extensive loss of habitat or agricultural practices that threaten their population.

Because of their relatively small size, they may be difficult to spot, unless they’re in larger flocks.

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