Why are flocks of black birds in my yard this winter? Here’s what the experts say

Flocks of black birds have been spotted in backyards and parks over the past few weeks in the Triangle, causing many of us to do a double take when we leave our homes or pass a large, grassy field.

Some believe these flocks signal changes in certain weather. But our expert at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology says that’s not true, as birds don’t predict the weather.

“These species form large groups on the wintering grounds and during migration, and they roam widely when foraging for food or when roosting together,” Pat Leonard, media relations manager for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, previously told The News & Observer.

Which black birds are in my backyard?

If you’re seeing flocks of black birds in the Triangle, Leonard thinks they are likely European Starlings, Common Grackles or Brown-headed Cowbirds.

All of these birds forage on the ground, Leonard said, which can contribute to seeing large numbers of them in grassy spaces.

To see photos of each bird, visit and search the species name.

Many North Carolinians will also spot flocks of American Robins, the most abundant bird in North America (and a permanent resident of our state).

In fall and winter, local birds will flock together, while many in the north will move down south to spend the cold months, according to the Carolina Bird Club. When spring comes, adult American Robins will be found feeding worms to their spotted young on lawns.

Flocks numbering in the thousands are usually found in February and March.

Triangle Asked & Answered: What do you want to know?

Have a question about something in our community? The News & Observer’s Service Journalism team wants your questions for our Triangle Asked & Answered series. Reach out to us by filling out this form or by sending an email to

These 2 NC cities top a list of places with ‘spacious homes’ & ‘nicely sized yards’

Does NC’s halo moon this week mean snow is coming soon? What experts say