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What bird has a black feather with white spots?

What bird has a black feather with white spots?

There are several species of birds that have black feathers with white spots. To identify the specific bird species, we need to consider the size, shape, and pattern of the white spots as well as the birds’ geographic location and habitat. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common black and white spotted bird species and how to identify them.

Birds With Black and White Spotted Plumage

Here are some of the most common birds that have black feathers with white spots:

Bird Species Description
Common Starling Small songbird with short tail. Spots are small and dense, giving a scaled appearance.
Eurasian Magpie Large songbird with long tail. Spots are large and sparse.
Laughing Dove Small plump dove. White spots on wings only.
Spotted Dove Small slim dove. White spots on neck and wings.
Cattle Egret Medium heron. Spots on breeding adults only.
Pied Butcherbird Medium songbird. Black with white bib and spots on wings.

As you can see, several bird species have black and white mottled or spotted plumage. The size, shape and location of the spots can help identify the exact species. Next, let’s go through some of these birds in more detail.

Common Starling

The Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) is a small chunky songbird found throughout most of Europe, Asia and North America. It has black plumage that is covered in small white spots, giving it a speckled or scaled appearance. The spots are particularly dense around the throat and breast.

Starlings have short, triangular bills and short tails. Their wings appear pointed when folded. They have pale yellow or greyish-yellow bills in the breeding season which darken towards winter. Their legs are reddish-brown.

Male and female starlings look alike. Juveniles are brown-grey with some spotting, which becomes more defined as they mature.

Starlings are highly social and gather in large flocks, often seen swarming city centers. They nest in cavities in trees, cliffs or building crevices. Though native to Europe, starlings were introduced to North America and Australia where some populations are now considered invasive pests.

Eurasian Magpie

The Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica) is a large, striking songbird found throughout Europe and Asia. It has glossy black plumage with white shoulder patches and large white spots on the wings and back.

Magpies have very long tails, equal to half their body length. Their wings appear rounded when folded. They have sharp, sturdy black bills and dark legs.

Male and female magpies are identical in appearance. Juveniles have fewer white spots which increase as they mature.

Magpies are highly intelligent birds that live in small family groups. They build large, domed nests high up in trees. Though native to Eurasia, magpies have been introduced to some parts of North America.

Laughing Dove

The Laughing Dove (Spilopelia senegalensis) is a small, stocky dove found widely in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Asia. It gets its name from its distinctive “cook-a-doodle-doo” call that sounds like laughter.

The Laughing Dove has vinous-pink underparts and neck with a blue-grey head and back. Its wings and tail are slate-grey with black and white spotting on the wings only. The breast and neck lack spotting.

Laughing Doves have short legs and a slim black bill. They forage on the ground for seeds and grains and nest low in bushes and trees. Their populations readily adapt to living alongside humans in urban areas.

Spotted Dove

The Spotted Dove (Spilopelia chinensis) is a slim, elegant dove native to Asia. It has light brown to grey plumage on its head, back and wings with black and white spotting. The spots are particularly prominent on the neck and wing feathers. The underparts are pinkish with dark scaling.

Spotted Doves have long, tapered tails and red eyes. The bill and legs are reddish-orange. They are ground feeders and often seen foraging on open grassy areas. They build flimsy nests in trees and readily colonize urban areas.

Spotted Doves have been introduced to many regions outside Asia, including the United States and Australia, where some populations have become invasive.

Cattle Egret

The Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) is a medium-sized heron that associates closely with livestock. It is found in open grasslands and agricultural areas throughout the tropics and subtropics.

Cattle Egrets have all white plumage in the non-breeding season. In breeding condition, they develop a buffy orange crown, breast and back. The neck, wings, belly and tail remain white. Black spots develop on the back and wings. The bill and legs turn bright red.

These egrets forage by walking alongside livestock, catching insects stirred up by their movement. They also forage actively in wetlands for fish, frogs and crustaceans. They nest colonially in trees and shrubs near water.

Pied Butcherbird

The Pied Butcherbird (Cracticus nigrogularis) is a medium-sized songbird found in Australia. As the name suggests, it has black and white plumage resembling a butcher’s apron.

The head, throat and wings are black, with a large white bib across the chest and belly. The back and rump are also white with sparse black spotting. The wings have rows of small white spots. The legs and eyes are yellow and the bill is grey.

Pied Butcherbirds have melodious, flute-like calls. They get their name from their habit of impaling prey on thorns or crevices before dismembering them. They feed mainly on small vertebrates but also some insects and fruit.

Identifying Black and White Spotted Birds

When trying to identify a black and white spotted bird species, consider the following key points:

– Overall size – Is it a small songbird or larger bird like a dove, egret or magpie?

– Bill shape – Pointed, stubby, curved or straight?

– Tail length – Long, short or medium length?

– Spot size – Small and dense or large and sparse?

– Spot location – Wings, head, back, chest, neck?

– Geographic location – Which part of the world was the bird seen?

– Habitat – Was it in a wetland, grassland, urban area?

With careful observation and noting these features, you can positively identify the correct species of black and white spotted birds found in your area. Field guides, apps and experts can help confirm difficult identifications.


In summary, several bird species have black plumage with white spots, but features like size, proportions, spot patterns and geographic range help identify the exact species. Some common black and white spotted birds include the Starling, Magpie, Laughing Dove, Spotted Dove, Cattle Egret and Pied Butcherbird. Carefully observing field marks and habitat can allow correct identification of these beautiful spotted birds. Proper identification helps track bird distributions and supports conservation of local species.