7 Small White and Black Backyard Birds

Black and white are common colors among the avian life, so it’s not surprising at all that you’re seeing many small white and black birds in your backyard.

Sometimes the white is pristine, and the black is a deep shade, other times the delineation between the two colors is not always so clear.

If you’re trying to identify which birds with black and white plumage are visiting your backyard, I’ve put together a list of some of the most common small birds that feature both white and black feathers in their plumage.

Downy Woodpecker

This small bark forager is one of the most common backyard visitors. You’ll notice them either hunting for insects or feeding at bird feeders.

Of all the woodpeckers to visit feeders, the Downy Woodpecker is the most likely you’ll spot. The color pattern of the plumage gives the impression of being checkered. The belly is white, wings are black with white markings, while the face is boldly striped.

The Downy Woodpecker is not entirely black and white – the flaming red patch on the back of the head is an instantly recognizable marking of this bird.

Similar in size to chickadees and nuthatches, the Downy Woodpecker often joins their flocks in winter, which makes it easier for them to find food but also to stay clear of predators.

When visiting bird feeders, Downy Woodpeckers prefer suet feeders. Black oil sunflower seeds, chunky peanut butter, or crushed peanuts, as well as millet are all eaten by Woodpeckers.

Despite them feeding on seeds, Downy Woodpeckers eat insects as their primary source of food. They forage for insects such as beetle larvae inside wood or tree barks. They also eat ants and caterpillars. They also eat a lot of pest insects.

Other than insects and seeds, they also eat berries, acorns, and grains. They might even occasionally drink from hummingbird and oriole feeders.

Black Phoebe

If you view the Black Phoebe from above, you might mistakenly think it’s a black bird. However, the white edgings on the wings and the white belly tell a different story.

As a plumb bird with beady black eyes and a rounded head, the Black Phoebe has an endearing look for which you’re sure to welcome its visits to your backyard.

These birds prefer habitats near water where insects are abundant, so they can catch insects with short flights.

Look for them along rivers, streams, or lakes. They’ll even appear near cattle tanks. If your property is anywhere near these, you’ll surely have Black Phoebes visiting.

They’re not shy around humans and although bird feeders aren’t appealing to them, they might have a change of heart if you place mealworms in your feeders.

They build cup-shaped mud nests against walls, bridges, overhangs, or even the underside of your roof.

If your backyard has a source of water, Black Phoebes may use your garden as a place to catch insects.

Because Black Phoebes stay low to the ground, the easiest way to spot them is to look for them on low branches, rocks and shrubs alongside water sources.

White-breasted Nuthatch

Another white and black bark forager, the White-breasted Nuthatch is exactly so – it has a white breast and throat and gray back with clear black markings.

They’re common in forest habitats but they can easily be attracted to bird feeders with peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet.

As bark foragers, Nuthatches are agile and extremely active, fueled by their appetite for various insects.

The insects they most commonly eat include wood-boring beetle larvae, weevil larvae, treehoppers, scale insects, other types of insect larvae, and even spiders.

They get their name from the way they use their bills to “hatch out” seeds from acorns and nuts. Besides acorns, hawthorn, and sunflower seeds, they also occasionally eat corn.

For building their nests, they prefer wood cavities and abandoned woodpecker holes. They line these cavities with fur, fine grass, shredded barks, feathers, etc. Once the female builds the nest, they’ll reuse it in the years to follow.

If your backyard has deciduous or coniferous trees, you can help Nuthatches choose your property as their breeding site by setting up nest boxes for them.

You’ll find these active and agile birds foraging up and down tree trunks and branches. They can be observed storing seeds for later under loose tree barks.

Black-Capped Chickadee

A small bird with a black cap, gray and white body, this Chickadee species is another cute presence in your backyard. They even use nest boxes especially when they’re filled with sawdust or wood shavings.

As for feeders, they don’t tend to stick around much. They usually just grab some seeds and take them elsewhere to eat.

They’ll even build seed reserves by hiding them in several different places. Luckily, they’re not the type to forget their hiding places.

You can even place nest boxes if you want to attract Black-capped Chickadee pairs. It’s best to place nest boxes around 60 feet into a wooded area, just make sure there are no branches or leaves obstructing the entrance.

Birch, alder and willow trees can offer natural nesting habitats for Chickadees.

These birds aren’t fussy about the type of feeders they’ll visit. From hanging feeders to platform feeders, they don’t mind the feeder type as long as there are mealworms, peanuts, sunflower seeds, nyjer, or suet available.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Only the male of the species features black and white plumage along with a rosy red patch on the breast. The head and back are black while the underpants of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak are white. White patches can be noticed on both the wings and tail.

Another feature of this bird is its triangular beak, which is relatively large compared to the head of the bird.

The breeding grounds of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are the eastern deciduous or coniferous forests. They prefer forest edges, parks, and regenerating woodlands.

As migratory birds, they take flight to Central and South America for the winter, so you won’t see them around winter.

As foliage gleaners they feed on insects but also frequent fruiting trees, they’ll eat berries and seeds as well.

When they visit feeders, they enjoy safflower seeds, sunflower seeds, and raw peanuts.

While both sexes of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak are dedicated parents, taking turns in incubating the eggs, they’re not as good at building a nest.

The nest is often poorly put together so much so that eggs might be visible from below. It doesn’t help that they choose trees as nesting sites.

Acorn Woodpecker

An inhabitant of western oak woodlands, the Acorn Woodpecker is another small black and white backyard bird that you might see if you live near oak woods that are within their range.

These birds live in large groups and hide thousands of acorns in holes on the trunk of trees. One potential danger with these woodpeckers is that they might start making holes in your wood siding. And once they start, it’s extremely difficult to get rid of them.

Therefore, if you’re worried about the potential damage they might inflict on your wood siding, it may be a good idea to avoid putting out feeders.

You won’t have trouble identifying the Acorn Woodpecker – they have a creamy white face, black head with a red cap, and a black bill with a black patch around it.  They also have a white patch on each wing and another white patch on the tail.

Acorn Woodpeckers will use a tree as a pantry of sorts filling it with holes and acorns for almost the entire length of the trunk. This is called a granary tree and it’s used by the communal groups of these woodpecker species.

Black and White Warbler

Boldly striped in black and white, this warbler is a medium-sized one that’s about the size of a Black-capped Chickadee. It has a long bill that’s slightly down curved.

You can observe them in deciduous and mixed forests foraging for insects by creeping up and down tree barks. Despite their bark forager nature, they build their nests on the ground, usually at the base of a tree.

They’re territorial of their breeding grounds, chasing off intruders and aggressively defending their territories.

If you have oak trees in your garden or pine trees, you might attract them more easily. They also enjoy running water like that of bird bath fountains. Just make sure to place it in a more bushy area so that they’ll feel safe around it.

You can also notice them during their migration among other migrant warblers.


Relatively easy to identify after their color patterns, there are several small white and black birds that will visit your garden either attracted by bird feeders, nest boxes, or the trees in your yard.

Some birds are best kept at bay because of the damage they can cause both in your trees and in your wood siding. The Acorn Woodpecker is one such bird that’s best to not attract to your backyard.

Of course, sometimes it’s not in your control which birds will frequent your yard, but a little landscaping and planning can help attract the right kind of birds.

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