Colorado is a state of contrasts, from the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the arid deserts of the southwest. This diversity is reflected in the state’s birdlife, which includes a wide variety of species.
One of the most exciting groups of birds in Colorado is the blackwater bird. These birds are found in wetlands, lakes, and rivers, and they are often seen wading in the water or perched on posts or trees.
Colorado is home to a variety of blackwater birds, including black-crowned night herons, common loons, and American bitterns. These birds can be found in a variety of habitats, from wetlands to lakes. Learn more about these amazing birds and where to see them in the wild.
Black Water Birds in Colorado
Blackwater birds are a diverse group, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some of the most common black water birds in Colorado include:
- American Coot
- Canada Goose
- Hooded Merganser
- White-faced ibis
- Double-crested Cormorant
- Common Loon
- Pied-billed Grebe
- Black-necked Stilt
- Lesser Scaup
- Ring-necked Duck
- Ruddy Duck
- Surf Scoter
- Black Oystercatcher
Let’s explore their size, colour, appearance, habitat, diet, etc.
1. American Coot
The scientific name of American Coot is Fulica americana. The American Coot is a medium-sized water bird with black plumage, a distinctive white bill, and bright red eyes.
These black birds in Colorado are often seen swimming in flocks, and their distinctive calls can be heard in the spring and summer.
It has lobed toes that enable it to swim and walk on floating vegetation. American Coots can be found in various freshwater habitats, including lakes, ponds, marshes, and reservoirs throughout Colorado.
They are known for their strong swimming and diving abilities. American Coots are also social birds and often form large flocks.
2. Canada Goose
The scientific name is Branta canadensis. Canada Geese are large birds with black heads and necks, a white chinstrap, and a brownish-grey body.
They have a distinctive “honking” call. Canada Geese can be found in various habitats, including lakes, rivers, ponds, and grassy areas throughout Colorado.
These birds are highly adaptable and often form large flocks. They are known for their V-shaped flying formations during migration.
The scientific name is Bucephala albeola. The Bufflehead is a small diving duck with black and white plumage.
Males have a large white patch on the back of their heads, while females have a smaller white patch.
Buffleheads can be found in freshwater lakes, ponds, and rivers in Colorado during the winter months.
They are excellent divers and feed on aquatic insects, crustaceans, and small fish. Buffleheads are known for their agility and rapid wingbeats.
4. Hooded Merganser
The scientific name is Lophodytes cucullatus. The Hooded Merganser is a small duck with a distinctive black and white crest on its head.
Males have a black body with white patches, while females have a brownish-grey body.
Hooded Mergansers prefer wooded swamps, marshes, and small lakes with abundant vegetation in Colorado.
They are skilled divers and feed on small fish, crustaceans, and aquatic invertebrates. Hooded Mergansers also nest in tree cavities.
5. White-faced ibis
The scientific name is Plegadis chihi. The White-faced Ibis is a medium-sized wading bird with dark plumage, a long curved bill, and red eyes.
It has iridescent green and purple feathers on its wings. White-faced Ibis can be found in wetland areas, including marshes, ponds, and flooded fields throughout Colorado.
They feed on insects, small fish, and crustaceans by probing their long bills into the water or mud. White-faced Ibis often forage in flocks and fly in V-shaped formations.
6. Double-crested Cormorant
The scientific name is Phalacrocorax auritus. The Double-crested Cormorant is a large water bird with dark plumage, a long neck, and a distinctive hooked bill.
These Large black birds in Colorado are beautiful and skilful water birds. During the breeding season, it has two tufts of feathers on its head.
Double-crested Cormorants can be found in various freshwater habitats, including lakes, rivers, and reservoirs in Colorado.
They are skilled divers and feed on fish. After fishing, Cormorants can be seen perched with their wings outstretched to dry them.
7. Common Loon
The scientific name is Gavia Immer. The Common Loon is a large diving bird with a black head, neck, and back, and a white underbelly.
It has a dagger-like bill and distinctive red eyes. Common Loons can be found in large lakes and reservoirs in Colorado during the breeding season.
They are excellent divers and feed on fish. Loons have a haunting, tremolo-like call that is often associated with wilderness areas.
8. Pied-billed Grebe
The scientific name is Podilymbus podiceps. The Pied-billed Grebe is a small diving bird with a black bill and a brown body.
It has a distinctive black ring around its bill during the breeding season. Pied-billed Grebes can be found in freshwater lakes, ponds, and marshes throughout Colorado.
They are adept swimmers and divers, using their lobed toes for propulsion. Pied-billed Grebes feed on small fish, insects, and aquatic invertebrates.
9. Black-necked Stilt
The scientific name is Himantopus mexicanus. The Black-necked Stilt is a slender wading bird with black and white plumage.
It has long, thin red legs and a long, thin black bill. Black-necked Stilts can be found in shallow marshes, mudflats, and salt ponds in Colorado.
They have long legs adapted for wading in shallow water, where they feed on small invertebrates, insects, and crustaceans.
Black-necked Stilts are known for their distinctive high-stepping walk.
10. Lesser Scaup
The scientific name is Aythya affinis. The Lesser Scaup is a medium-sized diving duck with black plumage, a purplish head, and yellow eyes.
Females have a brown body with white patch around the bill.
Lesser Scaups can be found in freshwater lakes, ponds, and reservoirs during migration and winter in Colorado.
They are excellent divers and feed on aquatic plants, insects, and small molluscs. Lesser Scaups form large flocks on their wintering grounds.
11. Ring-necked Duck
The scientific name is Aythya collaris. The Ring-necked Duck is a medium-sized diving duck with a black head, neck, breast, and a grey body.
Males have a distinctive white ring around the bill. Ring-necked Ducks can be found in freshwater lakes, ponds, and marshes during migration and winter in Colorado.
They are skilled divers and feed on aquatic insects, small fish, and plant material. Ring-necked Ducks often dive underwater for extended periods.
The scientific name is Anhinga Anhinga. The Anhinga is a large water bird with black plumage, a long neck, and a sharp, pointed bill.
It has a slender body and long, webbed feet. While Anhingas are not commonly found in Colorado, they can occasionally be seen in the southeastern parts of the state near suitable water bodies.
They are excellent divers and swim underwater to catch fish.
Anhingas are often seen perched with their wings spread wide to dry.
Stercorarius, also known as skuas or jaegers, are large seabirds found in coastal areas. They have dark feathers and a robust build.
Stercorarius birds have dark plumage and muscular bodies. They live in open oceans and coastal regions. Stercorarius are skilled hunters and can be aggressive.
They often steal food from other seabirds. Their diet consists of fish, squid, and occasionally other seabirds’ eggs and chicks.
Stercorarius birds migrate between their breeding grounds in the Arctic or subarctic regions and their wintering grounds in more temperate or tropical waters.
14. Ruddy Duck
Ruddy Ducks are small blackwater birds found in Colorado. The males have chestnut bodies and blue bills, while the females are grey-brown.
They live in wetland areas like ponds and marshes. Ruddy Ducks dive underwater to find food like plants and insects.
During the breeding season, the males do unique displays. They are not in danger, but their habitat can be harmed.
Look for them in wetlands with plants and water. Remember to observe from a distance and not disturb them.
Redheads are medium-sized ducks with reddish heads and grey bodies. They live in lakes and ponds in Colorado.
Redheads dive underwater to find plants and insects for food. They migrate to different areas depending on the season.
They are not in danger, but their habitat can be harmed.
Look for them in larger bodies of water during winter. Remember to watch from a distance and not disturb them.
16. Surf Scoter
The Surf Scoter is a medium-sized black sea duck with a white patch on its head.
It lives along the coast but can be seen in Colorado on larger lakes during migration.
It dives underwater to find food like molluscs. Look for them in flocks near water. Remember to watch from a distance and not disturb them.
17. Black Oystercatcher
The Black Oystercatcher is a sizeable black shorebird with a long orange bill and yellow eyes.
It lives on rocky coastlines but can occasionally be seen in Colorado near lakes during migration.
It eats shellfish and can be found near the water.
They are sensitive to disturbances, so observe from a distance and avoid bothering them.
Colorado’s blackwater birds are a testament to the diversity of the state’s natural habitats. These birds are a source of wonder and beauty for birdwatchers and nature lovers alike.
If you’re interested in seeing these birds in the wild, there are a few things you can do. First, be sure to visit some of the state’s many wetlands and lakes. These areas are home to a variety of blackwater birds.
Second, be aware of the birds’ migratory patterns. Some of Colorado’s blackwater birds, such as the black-crowned night heron, migrate long distances. If you’re hoping to see these birds, be sure to visit the state during their migration season.
Finally, be patient and observant. Blackwater birds are not always easy to see. But if you’re patient and keep your eyes peeled, you’re sure to have a rewarding experience.