Stripes in bird plumage can be a big help when trying to identify a particular species. Black birds with white stripes on their wings is a common combination, but birds on all colors can be found with white wing stripes. In this article we will look at 16 examples of birds with a prominent white wing stripe.
16 Types of Birds with White Stripes on Their Wings
While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of all the birds with white stripes on their wings, it should give you a good idea of the variety of species out there that share this coloration. Let’s dive in!
1. Northern Mockingbird
Scientific name: Mimus polyglottos
Spot this master of mimicry across the United States and throughout Mexico. Northern mockingbirds are fantastic imitators of other birds’ songs. They routinely learn new songs throughout their lives and regularly sing between 10 and 15 repetitions of other birds’ songs.
Mockingbirds white stripe is most visible when their wings are outstretched. So they are easier to notice and identify when in flight or if they are doing their “wing flash” display. They’re more likely to come to your backyard if you have an open lawn or berry bushes, but will also sometimes visit bird feeders.
2. Painted Redstart
Scientific name: Myioborus pictus
Black, white, and scarlet, the painted redstart is a flashy figure as it forages for insects on the forest floor. These songbirds prefer forests in the Southwest, especially Arizona and New Mexico. They use their tails and wings to flush insects from ground foliage so that they can eat them.
Interestingly, both females and males look similar, which is unusual for most warblers. You can attract them to your backyard with sugar-water feeders – similar to orioles. They also like suet in the colder months.
3. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Scientific name: Pheucticus ludovicianus
If you live in the eastern or midwestern United States, it’s possible that you might see a rose-breasted grosbeak during nesting season or even while they are migrating. Rose-breasted grosbeaks spend spring and summer in the forests of the Northeast and Midwest. They migrate through the south down into Central and South America, where they spend their winters.
Because they hide in foliage so well, it’s easier to hear this songbird than it is to spot it. Only males have black wings with white stripes. Females and immature male birds are brown with white streaks. They will visit backyard bird feeders for sunflower seed.
4. White-headed Woodpecker
Scientific name: Dryobates albolarvatus
The white-headed woodpecker cuts a unique figure because of its coloring. Only males have a tiny red patch at the crown of the head. Both males and females have a white patch on their wings, however.
Spot this woodpecker year-round in the pine forests of the Pacific Northwest and northern California. They may visit suet feeders if you live in this area. Both sexes cooperate when nesting and raising young. They communicate by drumming softly on the nest cavity, even when they can’t see each other.
5. Loggerhead Shrike
Scientific name: Lanius ludovicianus
This round, gray and black bird has black wings with a characteristic white stripe. Although when their wings are folded, it can appear more like a white spot.
The shrike has a curious habit of impaling its prey (insects, reptiles and even small mammals) on sharp sticks, grasses, thorns, and even barbed wire. This preserves their food so they can return later to eat their snacks.
The Loggerhead Shrike’s hiccupy song can be heard throughout most of the United States, except for the Northeast and coastal Washington. It breeds throughout the plains states and some of the Midwest, but stays year-round in the Rockies, the Southwest, and the Southeast.
6. Lark Bunting
Scientific name: Calamospiza melanocorys
A native of the states of the Great Plains, the lark bunting stands out as a striking figure against grasslands and dry foliage. Only males are the characteristic black with the bright white wing stripe. Females and immature males are dusky brown with white edges.
You’ll need a large yard to attract lark buntings, but if you do, you’ll want to scatter seed on the ground in an open, sandy area.
7. White-winged Crossbill
Scientific name: Loxia leucoptera
The white-winged crossbill is hard to miss due to its crossed-over bill. They use this unique adaptation to split open pinecones in the coniferous forests of Canada and the northern United States.
Males are red, while females are yellow, but both sport dark wings with white stripes. They have been known to breed throughout the year. As long as there is a stable food source, they will make a nest.
8. Belted Kingfisher
Scientific name: Megaceryle alcyon
Many watchers of the belted kingfisher say that the bird has too big a head for its body. This feisty bird puts that large beak and head to good use. It perches on branches at the edge of streams, ponds, and lakes, where it stays perfectly still until it can dive into the water to grab prey.
You’ll be able to spot a belted kingfisher across the United States. The birds live year-round throughout most of the country. Some spend winters in the Southwest and breed throughout Canada.
They sport a large white stripe at the end of their wings, but it is usually only visible during flight.
9. American Avocet
Scientific name: Recurvirostra americana
The American avocet has quite a unique look with its long and slender upturned bill. Avocets are waders that probe coastal waters and inland wetlands for aquatic invertebrates. While their head and neck change from rusty in the summer to pale in the winter, they retain their dark wings with large white stripe.
The American avocet has been protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. 703-712) since 1918, due to a sharp decline in their numbers during the first part of the 1900s. But, their habitats are still under threat due to toxins.
10. Black-billed Magpie
Scientific name: Pica hudsonia
The beautiful black-billed magpie has the shape of a jay but the size of a crow. Black head, chest and back, bright white shoulder and sides, metallic blue along their wings and their long tail. While only their white shoulder stripe is visible with folded wings, they display bright white wingtips in flight. They have a varied diet of fruit, grain, insects, small mammals, carrion and eggs.
Magpies are sometimes seen hanging out on the backs of large mammals like moose or deer, picking through their hair looking for ticks. These flashy birds aren’t shy and are often seen perched in trees or on fenceposts. They can be quite loud, especially in groups.
Black-billed magpies can be found year round in the western U.S., Canada and into Alaska.
11. Black-and-White Warbler
Scientific name: Mniotilta varia
It’s not hard to see why this warbler made our list. This aptly named bird takes white stripes to the extreme with its fully black and white striped body. The black-and-white warbler is one of the first warblers to arrive in the spring, and spends its summers in the northeast.
Unlike other warblers that remain high up in trees and hidden among leaves, this warbler is happy to forage along tree trunks and limbs. This often make them much easier to spot.
12. Bullocks Oriole
Scientific name: Icterus bullockii
The Bullock’s Oriole is the most common oriole in the western United States. Populations are most concentrated along the Pacific Coast and the Rockies. They are slightly less common in the Great Plains. They come to the U.S. during the spring and summer breeding season, then head back down to Mexico for the winter.
Males are bright yellowish-orange, with black on the top of their head and a black line through the eye. Their wings are black with a large white patch. Females look quite different, with a gray back, white belly, and pale yellowish-orange head and tail.
The bullock’s oriole prefers larger trees than the orchard oriole. They like the trees to be spaced apart or clustered together in a clump with more open land surrounding them. Sycamore, willow and cottonwood are common trees they choose for nesting.
13. Williamson’s Sapsucker
Scientific name: Sphyrapicus thyroideus
Williamson’s sapsuckers are only found in a handful of midwestern states. They feed primarily on the sap of coniferous trees, extracting it by drilling sap-wells. Uncommon in backyards, Williamson’s sapsuckers are primarily found in mountainous forests. They roost in natural or excavated cavities and prefer nesting in a larger, older trees.
Males and females look very different. Males have dark bodies with a long white wing stripe, bright yellow bellies, and speckled sides. Females have brown heads with black and white barred bodies.
Scientific name: Dolichonyx oryzivorus
Male bobolinks have black bodies with a white rump, white striping on the wings, and a yellow head cap. Females, which are yellow and brown, lack the large white wing stripes and have little in common with the male’s breeding plumage.
In the U.S. you can find bobolinks during the summer in northern states from New England to Montana. Bobolinks make an impressive migration from southern South America to the U.S. and Canada. It is believed they are aided in navigation by both the stars and earth magnetic field.
15. Common Nighthawk
Scientific name: Chordeiles minor
When perched on a branch, the common nighthawk is very hard to find. Their speckled brown and white plumage blends in perfectly, and their low profile makes them look like just a lump on a branch. So you are most likely to notice them in flight, where their long slender wings with bright white stripe make them quite noticeable.
Look for them throughout the U.S. at dawn and dusk during the summer months as they dip and dive in the air hunting for insects.
16. Steller’s Sea Eagle
Scientific name: Haliaeetus pelagicus
Let’s end this list with a bird much larger than the others! Steller’s sea eagles are not native to or common in North America, but have appeared in Alaska on rare occasions.
These large birds have a mostly brown body, with a white tail, leg, and shoulder stripe. Steller’s sea eagles are very large overall, outweighing bald eagles. They are the largest among all the sea eagles.
These eagles rely on large bodies of open water for their main prey, fish. They primarily eat salmon, and their nests are often found close to areas where salmon spawn. They either perch and wait for prey, swooping down to snatch it with their talons, or stand in shallow water and grab fish as they pass.