Birds come in a wide range of physical traits. Considering the vast number of bird species there are in the world, even a very specific trait, such as black plumage with red-colored eyes, can be seen in several bird species. In this article, we’ll be going over birds that share black plumage and red eyes, which is usually due to either natural selection, sexual selection, or a combination of both.
1. American Coot
|Scientific Name||Fulica americana|
|Range||North and Central America, Venezuela, Colombia, Iceland, Great Britain|
The American coot is a plump bird that behaves very similarly to a duck (it’s only distantly related to ducks). It consists of dark gray plumage overall with a black head, a white bill, a small tail, short wings, and dark red eyes. Its feet are large and yellow-green in color.
The American coot can be found foraging for aquatic vegetation near water, such as ponds, city parks, marshes, and lakes.
The American coot is an omnivore; hence it eats both plants and animals. Plants typically include the stems, leaves, and seeds of pondweeds, sedges, grasses, and others, along with an abundance of algae. Animals usually consist of invertebrates and small vertebrates such as fish and tadpoles.
2. Junin Grebe
|Scientific Name||Podiceps taczanowskii|
The Junin grebe is a critically endangered grebe that is only found on Lake Junin in Peru. Adults consist of black and white plumage with dark red eyes, while juveniles have a more brownish tinge. Compared to the similar silvery grebe, the Junin grebe is larger with a longer and paler bill, a thinner neck, and darker flanks.
Typical habitats for the Junin grebe include the bays and channels around the edge of Lake Junin. The lake itself is fairly shallow and has reed marshes around it. The bird often goes to the reeds for nesting.
This bird feeds mainly on Orestias fish, which becomes scarce when the reed marshes dry out, in which case they’ll feed instead on invertebrates and their larvae.
3. Spotted Towhee
|Scientific Name||Pipilo maculatus|
|Range||Southern Canada, Western United States, Mexico|
The spotted towhee is a large sparrow that consists of black plumage above with white spots on the wings and back, bright rusty sides, a white belly, and bright red eyes. They have white corners on the tail, which is noticeable in flight. Females are grayer than males.
The spotted towhee usually lives in scrubby areas and forest edges with thickets. They can also be found in the undergrowth in open woods. In the west, you may find this bird in the chaparral, mountain manzanita thickets, scrub oaks, or pinyon-juniper woods that has dense understory.
The spotted towhee mainly eats insects, seeds, and berries, the exact diet of which varies depending on the season. They eat insects, such as beetles, caterpillars, moths, and true bugs during the summer. This changes to include seeds, acorns, berries, and small fruits during the fall and winter months.
|Scientific Name||Phainopepla nitens|
|Range||Southwestern United States, Mexico|
The phainopepla is a unique-looking bird with a sleek body, shaggy crest, a considerably long tail, and dark red eyes. The males have black plumage that appears iridescent, with white wing patches that can be seen in flight. Females and juveniles are dark gray.
The phainopepla inhabits areas with scrubby oak and mesquite (small leguminous) trees. They can also be found in desert washes containing acacia, palo verde, ironwood, and smoke trees.
The phainopepla primarily eats fruit, such as the desert mistletoe berries, from fall to spring, as well as boxthorn, elderberry, redberry, juniper, and sumac fruits. They also occasionally consume flying insects which they capture in flight.
5. Western Grebe
|Scientific Name||Aechmophorus occidentalis|
|Range||North America, Mexico|
The western grebe is a large grebe with a long, dark gray body, a long neck, a very long and thin yellow bill, a black cap, and red eyes. There can sometimes be a small white spot in front of the eyes. Similar in appearance to Clark’s grebe, but is darker overall on the sides and face and has a duller colored bill.
The western grebe breeds on marshy lakes, where it often builds a floating raft made of vegetation. At other times, they can be found in saltwater bays, lakes, and the open ocean.
The usual diet of the western grebe includes fish, salamanders, crustaceans, marine worms, grasshoppers, and other aquatic insects and their larvae. When hunting, they will dive down deep and will either jab their prey with their bills or capture it with their mandibles.
6. Greater Coucal
|Scientific Name||Centropus sinensis|
|Range||India, Nepal, Pakistan, Southeast Asia|
The greater coucal is a large bird that looks like a hybrid of a crow and a pheasant. It is mainly black with rust-colored wings, iridescent underparts, a long and bushy black tail, and dark red eyes. Juveniles are duller in color and have white bars on the tail and underparts, as well as scattered black streaks on their wings and underparts.
Typical habitats of the greater coucal include mangrove forests, shrublands, and grasslands near rivers, marshes, and creeks. They don’t migrate and are generally found in all habitats (except dense forests) in their range. They may also occasionally visit urban areas and rural gardens.
The greater coucal mainly eats animals, such as a wide range of insects, caterpillars, snails, and small vertebrates. They may also occasionally consume bird eggs, nestlings, fruit, and seeds if they happen to come across them.
7. Bronzed Cowbird
|Scientific Name||Molothrus aeneus|
|Range||Southern United States, Central America|
The bronzed cowbird is a small icterid consisting of dark brown to black plumage, a thick neck, a short heavy bill, and bright red eyes. Males have iridescent bluish wings along with the ability to puff out their neck feathers and hover in circles around the female as a display of courtship. Females are mainly matte black throughout without the presence of iridescence.
The bronzed cowbird can be found in a variety of open or semi-open habitats, such as pastures, forest edges, yards, and agricultural areas. They are frequent visitors of bird feeders.
The bronzed cowbird eats a combination of grains, grass, and animals. Grains can include things such as milo, oats, corn, and rice. They especially prefer the seeds of forbs and grasses, along with insects and arthropods. They usually eat by foraging on the ground, walking rapidly, and taking food via the bill, though sometimes they’ll strip grain straight from the stalk.
8. Common Loon
|Scientific Name||Gavia immer|
|Range||North America, Europe, Occasionally in Mexico|
The common loon is a large loon with breeding adults consisting of a black-and-white patterning across the body, a completely black and glossy head, dark red eyes, and a checkered back. Nonbreeding adults have plain gray plumage above and white plumage below, with a jagged border between the gray and white on the neck. Their bill is typically held straight.
The common loon breeds on lakes and ponds in the boreal forest while spending the majority of its time during the winter on nearshore ocean waters and sheltered bays.
The common loon’s diet consists mainly of small fish, crustaceans, mollusks, aquatic insects, leeches, and frogs. The fish are typically no longer than 10 inches and can include species such as minnows, suckers, perch, and rock cod.
9. Red-Eyed Puffback
|Scientific Name||Dryoscopus senegalensis|
The red-eyed puffback is a small bird consisting of a bicolored appearance, meaning they’re completely white below while nearly completely iridescent black above except for a white rump, red eyes, and a female’s white lores. It can be differentiated from other bicolored birds in the region by its behavior, its red eyes, hoarse voice, and small bill.
The red-eyed puffback mainly inhabits the thickets in secondary forests and forest edges, where they are often seen high above in the canopy. Their overall larger habitats include subtropical and tropical moist lowland forests.
The red-eyed puffback mainly feeds on fruit and insects, which they glean from leaves and branches.
10. Spangled Drongo
|Scientific Name||Dicrurus bracteatus|
|Range||Papua New Guinea, Australia|
The spangled drongo is a songbird with black plumage throughout, a slightly curved bill, and a long, cleft tail that curves upwards at the end. Adults have red eyes, while juveniles have black eyes. Their plumage can appear iridescent under the right angle of light.
The spangled drongo inhabits a wide range of habitats, such as wet forests, other woodlands, mangroves, and urban parks. They usually avoid dense forests and rainforest interiors.
The spangled drongo mainly eats insects, which are taken from foliage and under tree bark, fruit, and flower nectar.
11. White-Winged Chough
|Scientific Name||Corcorax melanorhamphos|
|Range||Australia (Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia)|
The white-winged chough is a large crow-sized bird that consists of black plumage throughout, a slightly curved bill, and dark red eyes. White in their primaries can be seen in flight when the wings are spread out.
The white-winged chough can be found in open forests and woodlands, where they prefer wetter areas with plenty of leaf litter and mud, used for feeding and nest building, respectively.
The white-winged chough’s diet consists mainly of invertebrates, such as spiders, caterpillars, centipedes, and beetles, which they seek and grab from the soil, leaf litter, and bark. They will also consume seeds that they come across.
12. Asian Koel
|Scientific Name||Eudynamys scolopaceus|
|Range||Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China, Southeast Asia|
The Asian koel is a large cuckoo with adult males consisting of an iridescent black plumage with a pale lime-green bill and females and juveniles consisting of dark brown plumage with white spots on the wings and streaks on the head and throat. Adults have bright red eyes.
The Asian koel is very secretive and prefers to stay in the interiors of dense trees in woodlands, cities, and fields. They can also be found in shrubby areas containing scattered trees, gardens, and plantations.
The Asian koel is an omnivore, preferring to feed on a combination of fruit, insects, lizards, and the eggs of birds and other animals. As adults, they mainly depend on the fruits of fig trees and other trees, which they’ll vigorously defend from other birds.
13. African Black Oystercatcher
|Scientific Name||Haematopus moquini|
|Range||Namibia, South Africa|
The African black oystercatcher is a stout coastal shorebird with glossy black plumage with reddish-pink legs, red eyes, red eye-rings, and a red bill. Juveniles are paler with a pink-brown bill and grayish-pink legs. It can be differentiated from the Eurasian Oystercatcher by its white belly and throat.
The African black oystercatcher is usually found on rocky coastlines and sandy shores along the mainland and islands. They may also sometimes be found in estuaries and lagoons.
The African black oystercatcher’s diet mainly consists of bivalves (mussels, oysters, clams), limpets, worms, whelks, and crustaceans.
14. African River Martin
|Scientific Name||Pseudochelidon eurystomina|
|Range||Gabon (Central Africa), Republic of the Congo|
The African river martin is a mysterious and distinctive martin that consists of black plumage throughout, bright red eyes, and an orange-red bill. In flight, its large head, short tail, and triangular-shaped wings become evident.
The African river martin can be found in small to large groups along forested rivers, swamps, coastal scrub, and seasonally flooded woodland.
The African river martin catches a variety of insects in the air, especially flying ants and beetles, which are caught on the wing.
15. Asian Fairy-Bluebird
|Scientific Name||Irena puella|
|Range||Southeast Asia, Southwestern India|
The Asian fairy-bluebird is a stout, medium-sized passerine bird with dark red eyes. Males consist of black and electric blue plumage, while females are dark turquoise with dark wingtips. The contrast in color is less evident among the females.
Typical habitats for the Asian fairy-bluebird include lowland and foothill evergreen forests, especially near the forest crown and forest edge, where they aren’t disturbed by human development. They may also occasionally visit rural areas with human presence, such as gardens and plantations.
The usual diet for the Asian fairy bluebird includes fruit (especially figs and berries), nectar, and a limited number of insects.
There is no shortage of variety among birds in nature. Even something as specific as black plumage with red eyes can generate a plethora of bird species from all over the world. Though it can be difficult to spot at first glance, as long as you have our guide and the proper equipment, you should have no trouble finding these birds in the wild.
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