26 Black and White Birds in the UK (With Pictures)

26 Black and White Birds in the UK (With Pictures)

The UK isn’t known for its colorful birds, but when it comes to black and white birds, the UK is a paradise for bird lovers who prefer simpler color combos.

In this article, you’ll get to know the basic information about an amazing total of 27 black and white birds you can spot in the UK (this list does not include rare vagrants, colorful birds that have a few black and white bits or gray and white birds like the Jackdaw).

Whether in your garden, by the sea, or hiking in some woodlands, keep your eyes open for these great birds!

Note: In some cases, only the males of a species are black and white, while the females are gray or brown.

1. House Martin

  • Scientific Name: Delichon urbicum
  • Lifespan: Approximately 3-5 years
  • Size: About 13 cm (5 in)
  • Weight: 15-20 g (0.5-0.7 oz)
  • Wingspan: 26-29 cm (10-11.5 in)
  • Population: 510,000 breeding pairs
  • Usual Habitat: Urban and suburban areas, often nesting on buildings
  • Status: Red

House martins are popular spring, summer, and autumn birds who travel to Africa in the second half of autumn to escape the British winter (who can blame them?).

House Martin

These little birds are fast and constantly on the hunt for insects. A recent decline in their numbers has put them on the red list for birds in the UK.

2. Hooded Crow

  • Scientific Name: Corvus cornix
  • Lifespan: 6-8 years
  • Size: Approximately 48 cm (19 in)
  • Weight: Around 400 g (14 oz)
  • Wingspan: 85-100 cm (33-39 in)
  • Population: 285,000 breeding territories
  • Usual Habitat: Open country, farmlands, and urban areas
  • Status: Green

Hooded crows have only been recognized as their own species since 2002 (before that, they were considered Carrion Crows)!

Hooded Crow

These beauties, whose bodies can sometimes be well over 50% white, are very clever and territorial, so you won’t find them in big flocks.

3. Rook

  • Scientific Name: Corvus frugilegus
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Size: Around 45 cm (18 in)
  • Weight: Approximately 400 g (14 oz)
  • Wingspan: 81-100 cm (32-39 in)
  • Population: 1,100,000 breeding pairs
  • Usual Habitat: Farmlands, woodlands, and urban areas
  • Status: Green

The Rook stands out because it’s a black bird with a comparably big white beak (not always fully white). Unlike the Hooded Crows, Rooks are very sociable and nest in colonies.


They are a common sight on farm fields. Even though they are still very numerous, their numbers have declined by around 20% from 1995 to 2020.

4. Magpie

  • Scientific Name: Pica pica
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years (in the wild)
  • Size: About 44-46 cm (17-18 in)
  • Weight: 150-250 g (5-9 oz)
  • Wingspan: 52-60 cm (20-24 in)
  • Population: 600,000 breeding territories
  • Usual Habitat: Woodlands, parks, and gardens
  • Status: Green

Magpies in the UK (not to be confused with Australian Magpies, which are much chunkier birds) are a very common sight and a beloved bird.


Their long tails and beautiful mix of black, white, and some blue make them a sight to behold when you’re lucky enough to come across a smaller flock.

5. Long-tailed Tit

  • Scientific Name: Aegithalos caudatus
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Size: 14cm (5.5in)
  • Weight: 5-8g (0.18-0.28oz)
  • Wingspan: 22-24cm (8.7-9.4in)
  • Population: 340,000 breeding territories
  • Usual Habitat: Woodlands, hedgerows, and gardens
  • Status: Green

The Long-tailed Tit is one of the smallest birds in the UK and can easily be recognized by its long tail and its bouncy flight pattern.

They might be small, but you’ll often hear them before you see them because their voices are surprisingly loud, considering these birds’ small bodies!

6. Coal Tit

  • Scientific Name: Periparus ater
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Size: 11.5cm (4.5in)
  • Weight: About 9g (0.32oz)
  • Wingspan: 18-20cm (7-7.9in)
  • Population: 670,000-680,000 breeding territories
  • Usual Habitat: Woodlands, coniferous forests, and gardens
  • Status: Green

Coal Tits are also one of the ten smallest bird species in the UK and are very cute. They love conifers, so you’ll have good chances of spotting them in areas with many conifer trees.

Coal Tit

Coal Tits are active little birds and constantly hunting for insects or seeds.

7. Great Spotted Woodpecker

  • Scientific Name: Dendrocopos major
  • Lifespan: 5-6 years
  • Size: Approximately 23 cm (9 in)
  • Weight: About 70-90 g (2.5-3.2 oz)
  • Wingspan: 34-39 cm (13-15 in)
  • Population: 140,000 breeding pairs
  • Usual Habitat: Woodlands and gardens
  • Status: Green

If you hear some knocking on wood in the woods, you’ll know a Woodpecker is close – but you’ll not always be able to spot them! If you do, you’ll see a stunning bird that is mainly black and white, with the males displaying a red dot on the back of their heads and some red plumage under their tails.

Great Spotted Woodpecker

These birds are doing extremely well: Their numbers have increased by over 400% (!!) between 1995 and 2020.

8. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

  • Scientific Name: Dryobates minor
  • Lifespan: 2-3 years
  • Size: Around 15 cm (6 in)
  • Weight: Approximately 20-30 g (0.7-1.1 oz)
  • Wingspan: 25-30 cm (10-12 in)
  • Population: 800-1000 breeding pairs
  • Usual Habitat: Woodlands and parks
  • Status: Red

The lesser spotted Woodpecker isn’t doing as well as its big “brother”. From 1967 to 2020, the number of this species has declined by 91%.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Look-wise, this bird is similar to the Great Spotted Woodpecker but sparrow-sized and even harder to spot. Why exactly this species is declining isn’t 100% sure.

9. Gannet

  • Scientific Name: Morus bassanus
  • Lifespan: Approximately 20-30 years
  • Size: About 90-110 cm (35-43 in)
  • Weight: 2.2-3.6 kg (4.9-7.9 lbs)
  • Wingspan: 165-180 cm (65-71 in)
  • Population: 220,000-295,000 nest sites
  • Usual Habitat: Coastal cliffs and open seas
  • Status: Amber

Gannets are impressive, beautiful seabirds, and you can visit some colonies via special tours in the UK (most colonies are on protected land, which you should only access with guides).


There aren’t many of these colonies, but most are huge, noisy places with hundreds of birds placing their nests fairly close to each other.

10. Black-legged Kittiwake

  • Scientific Name: Rissa tridactyla
  • Lifespan: 15-25 years
  • Size: Approximately 37-41 cm (15-16 in)
  • Weight: 305-525 g (11-18.5 oz)
  • Wingspan: 91-96 cm (36-38 in)
  • Population: 380,000 pairs
  • Usual Habitat: Coastal cliffs and islands
  • Status: Red

It’s easy to confuse Kittiwakes with a common gull, but they’re different, though they fall into the same category, species-wise. Their legs and feet are black, and these gentle birds aren’t as keen on getting close to humans as other gull types.

Black-legged Kittiwake

Another thing that sets them apart is the fact that you’re not going to see them on land during winter: They’ll spend their time out at sea, leading an adventurous, maritime life!

11. Oystercatcher

  • Scientific Name: Haematopus ostralegus
  • Lifespan: Approximately 15-30 years
  • Size: About 40-45 cm (16-18 in)
  • Weight: 350-550 g (12.3-19.4 oz)
  • Wingspan: 83-90 cm (33-35 in)
  • Population: 96,000 breeding pairs
  • Usual Habitat: Coastal areas, estuaries, and shorelines
  • Status: Amber

Oystercatchers are waders with bright orange legs and a beak that’s just as bright. Plus, you’ll also find their red eyes pop against their black and white feathers!


While there are less than 100,000 breeding pairs in the UK, you’ll find a larger number of these birds in winter as the UK Oystercatchers receive a visit from their Norwegian neighbors who love to spend winter in the UK.

11. Puffin

  • Scientific Name: Fratercula arctica
  • Lifespan: About 20 years
  • Size: Around 28-34 cm (11-13 in)
  • Weight: 300-500 g (10.6-17.6 oz)
  • Wingspan: 47-63 cm (18.5-25 in)
  • Population: 580,000 breeding pairs
  • Usual Habitat: Coastal cliffs and islands
  • Status: Red

Puffins are cute birds but sadly in decline. They nest in burrows (which they sometimes steal from rabbits or other birds!) and are often called “the clown among seabirds” because of their looks and behavior.


Many people love puffins, and conservation efforts are underway to help their species.

12. Barnacle Goose

  • Scientific Name: Branta leucopsis
  • Lifespan: Approximately 10-20 years
  • Size: About 55-70 cm (22-28 in)
  • Weight: 1.2-2.3 kg (2.6-5.1 lbs)
  • Wingspan: 130-145 cm (51-57 in)
  • Population: 1,550 breeding pairs
  • Usual Habitat: Coastal areas, tundra, and wetlands
  • Status: Amber

In the past, Barnacle Geese were mainly winter visitors, but in recent years, quite a few of these visiting birds decided the UK isn’t that bad of a place to call home.

Barnacle Goose

The migration of Barnacle Geese is a heavily researched subject and pretty fascinating. These days, however, you can find Barnacle Geese in some areas of the UK all year round.

13. Coot

  • Scientific Name: Fulica atra
  • Lifespan: Approximately 5-7 years
  • Size: About 36-38 cm (14-15 in)
  • Weight: 600-1,000 g (1.3-2.2 lbs)
  • Wingspan: 75-85 cm (30-33 in)
  • Population: 26,000 breeding pairs
  • Usual Habitat: Freshwater lakes, ponds, and marshes
  • Status: Green

Coots are another species whose numbers swell immensely over winter (up to 205,000 birds). These lake and pond dwellers are black with a white upper head and beak.


They have red eyes and enjoy a mainly herbivorous diet, though they will also eat snails and small insects.

14. Goldeneye

  • Scientific Name: Bucephala clangula
  • Lifespan: Approximately 10-15 years
  • Size: About 40-51 cm (16-20 in)
  • Weight: 500-1,200 g (1.1-2.6 lbs)
  • Wingspan: 66-76 cm (26-30 in)
  • Population: 200 breeding pairs
  • Usual Habitat: Freshwater lakes, rivers, and coastal areas
  • Status: Red

The Goldeneye started nesting in the UK in the 1970s, and numbers have slowly increased.


With just 200 breeding pairs, the population of these diving ducks is still fairly small, but you’ll see over 20,000 of these birds in winter when the locals are joined by migrating Goldeneyes.

15. Goosander

  • Scientific Name: Mergus merganser
  • Lifespan: Approximately 5-10 years
  • Size: About 58-72 cm (23-28 in)
  • Weight: 1,200-2,100 g (2.6-4.6 lbs)
  • Wingspan: 80-95 cm (31-37 in)
  • Population: 4,800 breeding pairs
  • Usual Habitat: Freshwater rivers, lakes, and woodland areas
  • Status: Green

The males are the ones who have a black-and-white look, while the females almost look like a different species with their tufted heads and different coloring.


Unlike most other ducks, Goosanders love nesting in tree cavities, and you’ll rarely find them nesting on the ground.

16. Razorbill

  • Scientific Name: Alca torda
  • Lifespan: 13-17 years
  • Size: Approximately 38-43 cm (15-17 in)
  • Weight: 490-800 g (17.3-28.2 oz)
  • Wingspan: 67-72 cm (26-28 in)
  • Population: 165,000 breeding birds
  • Usual Habitat: Coastal cliffs and islands
  • Status: Amber

While these awesome birds are numerous in the UK, you don’t exactly come across them often as they breed on cliffsides and only are on land during their breeding season.


They spend all of the winter out on the Atlantic.

17. Common Tern

  • Scientific Name: Sterna hirundo
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Size: About 30-35 cm (12-14 in)
  • Weight: 45-115 g (1.6-4 oz)
  • Wingspan: 70-80 cm (28-31 in)
  • Population: 11,000 breeding pairs
  • Usual Habitat: Coastal areas, estuaries, and wetlands
  • Status: Amber

Also called “sea swallows” because of their swallow-like tails, the Common Terns are summer visitors and prefer not to be in the UK during winter.

Common Tern

While they tend to hang out around coastal areas, you can sometimes come across these Terns inland, too.

18. Black Guillemot

  • Scientific Name: Cepphus grylle
  • Lifespan: 10-20 years
  • Size: Around 30-35 cm (12-14 in)
  • Weight: 320-450 g (11.3-15.9 oz)
  • Wingspan: 54-58 cm (21-23 in)
  • Population: 20,000 breeding pairs
  • Usual Habitat: Coastal cliffs and rocky shores
  • Status: Amber

Depending on the time of the year, this bird looks a little different. In summer, it’s mainly black with distinct white patches on the wings.

Black Guillemot

In winter, the Black Guillemot’s plumage is almost white! Unlike more adventurous seabirds, the Black Guillemot only moves offshore for a short distance. They prefer a more sedentary lifestyle.

19. Black-headed Gull

  • Scientific Name: Chroicocephalus ridibundus
  • Lifespan: 5-15 years
  • Size: About 38-44 cm (15-17 in)
  • Weight: 150-300 g (5.3-10.6 oz)
  • Wingspan: 94-105 cm (37-41 in)
  • Population: 140,000 breeding pairs
  • Usual Habitat: Lakes, rivers, and coastal areas
  • Status: Amber

Even though these gulls are a common sight for many people, they are in trouble – just like many other gull species in the UK.

Black-headed Gull

What you may not know: These gulls don’t have a black head all year round, and you’ll often confuse them with common gulls because when their head is white, that’s what they look like.

20. Lesser Black-backed Gull

  • Scientific Name: Larus fuscus
  • Lifespan: 10-20 years
  • Size: Approximately 50-58 cm (20-23 in)
  • Weight: 350-900 g (12.3-31.7 oz)
  • Wingspan: 120-145 cm (47-57 in)
  • Population: 110,000 breeding pairs
  • Usual Habitat: Coastal areas, marshes, and landfill sites
  • Status: Amber

The Lesser Black-Backed Gull isn’t shy and can often be found in towns and cities to try and find food because humans make it harder to find natural sources.

Lesser Black-backed Gull

These are gulls you’ll see swooping down on landfills to try and find some tasty morsels. Sadly, their numbers are declining because that’s not the lifestyle they’re meant to live.

21. Great Black-Backed Gull

  • Scientific Name: Larus marinus
  • Lifespan: Approximately 20-30 years
  • Size: About 72-78 cm (28-31 in)
  • Weight: 1.5-2.3 kg (3.3-5.1 lbs)
  • Wingspan: 145-170 cm (57-67 in)
  • Population: 15,000 breeding pairs
  • Usual Habitat: Coastal areas, cliffs, and islands
  • Status: Amber

The Great-Black-Backed Gull is a much bigger version of the Lesser Black-Backed Gull.

Great Black-Backed Gull

You’re not going to mistake one for the other, and you generally won’t find these birds far from the coast or joining the Lesser ones on landfill sites.

22. Avocet

  • Scientific Name: Recurvirostra avosetta
  • Lifespan: 5-10 years
  • Size: Around 42-45 cm (16-18 in)
  • Weight: 250-400 g (8.8-14.1 oz)
  • Wingspan: 68-77 cm (27-30 in)
  • Population: 1,950 breeding pairs
  • Usual Habitat: Coastal mudflats, salt pans, and lagoons
  • Status: Amber

The Avocet, a pretty wader, has an interesting history in the UK and is on the logo of the RSPB, which is why many people are familiar with the bird’s shape – without knowing much about it.


The Avocet is the UK’s symbol for bird conservation and is, fortunately, increasing in numbers again.

23. Tufted Duck

  • Scientific Name: Aythya fuligula
  • Lifespan: 10-20 years
  • Size: Approximately 40-47 cm (16-18.5 in)
  • Weight: 600-1,000 g (21.2-35.3 oz)
  • Wingspan: 65-75 cm (26-30 in)
  • Population: 17,000-18,000 breeding pairs
  • Usual Habitat: Lakes, ponds, and wetlands
  • Status: Green

Tufted Ducks (with a tuft on their heads) are found on various lakes and ponds, even city lakes. They aren’t particularly shy and display plenty of character.

Tufted Duck

In winter, over 100,000 additional Tufted Ducks land in the UK to escape from colder places like Russia.

24. Lapwing

  • Scientific Name: Vanellus vanellus
  • Lifespan: 5-10 years
  • Size: Approximately 28-33 cm (11-13 in)
  • Weight: 140-280 g (4.9-9.9 oz)
  • Wingspan: 67-77 cm (26-30 in)
  • Population: 98,000 breeding pairs
  • Usual Habitat: Farmlands, wet grasslands, and lakesides
  • Status: Red

The Lapwing is another wader on the list of black and white birds in the UK. Sadly, these waders aren’t a very common sight any longer.


Their numbers are in decline because changes in land management led to a reduction in suitable breeding sites. In addition, they are also victims of increased predation.

25. Eider

  • Scientific Name: Somateria mollissima
  • Lifespan: Approximately 20-30 years
  • Size: About 50-71 cm (20-28 in)
  • Weight: 1.2-3.6 kg (2.6-7.9 lbs)
  • Wingspan: 80-110 cm (31-43 in)
  • Population: 37,000 breeding birds.
  • Usual Habitat: Coastal areas, rocky shores, and islands
  • Status: Amber

If you’re looking for a regal duck, the Eider is it. You’re not going to find them on lakes, though. No, these ducks are sea ducks. In addition to that, they’re the UK’s heaviest duck.


Strangely enough, they’re also the FASTEST ducks in the UK, even though they’re much heavier than others. The females look nothing like the males.

26. Manx Shearwater

  • Scientific Name: Puffinus puffinus
  • Lifespan: Approximately 30-40 years
  • Size: About 30-35 cm (12-14 in)
  • Weight: 350-400 g (12.3-14.1 oz)
  • Wingspan: 76-89 cm (30-35 in)
  • Population: 300,000 breeding pairs
  • Usual Habitat: Breeds on remote islands and cliffs, forages over open seas
  • Status: Amber

While there are many of these seabirds in the UK, you’re unlikely to see them as they spend most of their time over open waters.

Manx Shearwater

These graceful birds glide close to the sea’s surface, and when they come to land for breeding, their colonies are located at mainly inaccessible locations (to humans, that is), which is a good thing because otherwise, these birds might not do that well!


As you can see, there’s no shortage of black and white birds in the UK. Remember, this list doesn’t include rare vagrants and rare winter visitors (like the Smew). There are also quite a few birds in the UK that are gray and white or black and gray (like Jackdaws).

Enjoy the world of black and white birds, as these are numerous in the UK!

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