Michigan is a state known for its diverse range of bird species, making it an ideal location for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. From the American Robin to the Cedar Waxwing, Michigan is home to a variety of both native and non-native bird species.
In this article, we will explore the most common birds found in Michigan, including both backyard and wild species. Whether you are a seasoned birdwatcher or a beginner, this guide will provide you with all the necessary information about the birds of Michigan.
11 Types Of Birds In Michigan
The American Robin (Turdus migratorius) is the official state bird of Michigan. It was adopted on April 8, 1931, after a contest was held to determine the state bird.
The American Robin is a migratory songbird known for its red breast, although its chest feathers can vary in hue from peach to red maroon. Both genders of the American Robin look alike, but the female sports paler red on their chest and stomach. The birds feature a black to dark gray head with a broken eye ring.
Typically, these birds have a black bill featuring a brown shade at the base. They have gray upperparts with a white undertail. Their streaked throat and a thin bill of yellow round out the festive nature of this bright, cheery bird.
The American Robin is a common sight in Michigan’s towns, parks, woodlands, and other habitats throughout the state.
The Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) is a small, non-migratory songbird that is widely distributed throughout North America, ranging from the northern United States to southern Canada and all the way up to Alaska and Yukon. It is a passerine bird in the tit family, the Paridae. The Black-capped Chickadee is the state bird of Massachusetts and Maine in the United States.
This bird has a distinctive appearance characterized by its black cap and “bib” with white sides to the face. Its underparts are white with rusty brown on the flanks. Its back is gray, and the tail is normally slate gray.
The Black-capped Chickadee has a short dark beak of 8–9.5 mm (0.31–0.37 in), short, rounded wings 63.5–67.5 mm (2.50–2.66 in), a tarsus of 16–17 mm (0.63–0.67 in), and a long tail at 58–63 mm (2.3–2.5 in).
Here are some additional facts about the Black-capped Chickadee:
– The Black-capped Chickadee is a social bird and forms flocks in the winter that include other bird species.
– Black-capped Chickadees are easily seen at many feeding stations, and in virtually any area with trees. They are often heard before they’re seen. They’re frequently attracted to investigate birders making pishing sounds.
– Black-capped Chickadees are found in deciduous and mixed deciduous-evergreen forests, especially near forest edges. They are commonly found near willows and cottonwoods and like to make their nests in the snags of alder and birch trees. Feeders and nest boxes can be used to attract chickadees to suburban backyards.
– Like many birds, Black-capped Chickadees are omnivorous. They eat a diet of seeds, berries, insects, invertebrates, and occasionally small portions of carrion. Chickadees also love to eat suet and peanut butter offered at bird feeders. However, chickadees have a penchant for storing food and eating it later, so they usually won’t stick around at a feeder for very long.
The House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) is a small, colorful bird that is common throughout North America. Here are some interesting facts about the House Finch:
– House Finches are small-bodied finches with fairly large beaks and somewhat long, flat heads. The wings are short, making the tail seem long by comparison. Many finches have distinctly notched tails, but the House Finch has a relatively shallow notch in its tail. They are sparrow-sized or smaller, measuring 5.1-5.5 inches (13-14 cm) in length and weighing 0.6-0.9 ounces (16-27 g) .
– Male House Finches have a red head, breast, and rump, but do not have red coloring on their brown back or wings. Female House Finches have blurrier streaks and grayer undersides than males. The breast streaks do not converge in a central spot as on many sparrows. They lack clear white stripes on their heads. House Finches have longer tails and appear more slender overall, and also have slightly curved bills, in contrast to the straight bills found in other finch species.
– House Finches are native to open and desert habitats, but have expanded their range, naturally and through introductions, and now can be found in almost any kind of human-altered habitat. They prefer edge habitat and are absent from dense coniferous forests.
– House Finches are familiar birds of human-created habitats including buildings, lawns, small conifers, and urban centers. In rural areas, you can also find House Finches around barns and stables. In their native range in the West, House Finches live in natural habitats including dry desert, desert grassland, chaparral, oak savannah, streamsides, and open coniferous forests at elevations below 6,000 feet.
– The vast majority of the House Finch’s diet is vegetable matter–seeds, buds, berries, and nectar. They feed their young regurgitated seeds. They eat a few small insects, especially aphids, but are primarily seed- and fruit-eaters at all times of the year.
– House Finches forage on the ground, while perching in weeds, or up in trees and shrubs. Except when nesting, they usually forage in flocks. They will come to feeders for seeds, especially sunflower seeds, and to hummingbird feeders for sugar-water.
– House Finches nest in a variety of deciduous and coniferous trees as well as on cactus and rock ledges. They also nest in or on buildings, using sites like vents, ledges, street lamps, ivy, and hanging planters. Occasionally, House Finches use the abandoned nests of other birds. The nest, built mostly by the female, is an open cup of grass, weeds, fine twigs, leaves, rootlets, sometimes with feathers, string, or other debris added.
– House Finches are now abundant over much of North America. In some parts of the East, they may be competing with Purple Finches to the detriment of the latter. Local populations in some areas have been hard hit by a bacterial infection called conjunctivitis, which swells their eyes shut and makes it difficult for them to feed themselves.
The Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) is a small icterid blackbird that is common in eastern North America as a migratory breeding bird. It is named after the coat-of-arms of 17th-century Lord Baltimore because of the resemblance of the male’s colors to those on the coat-of-arms. Here are some interesting facts about the Baltimore Oriole:
– The male Baltimore Oriole has a bright orange head, back, and underparts, with black wings and tail. The female is yellowish-orange on the head and underparts, with grayish-brown wings and tail. Both sexes have a sharply pointed bill and white wing bars. They are about 7 inches (18 cm) long with a wingspan of 9-12 inches (23-30 cm) .
– Baltimore Orioles breed in deciduous and mixed deciduous-evergreen forests, generally in open woods or edges rather than the interior of dense forest. They are also found in riverside groves, elms, and shade trees. They are often found in trees in towns and have adapted well to urban parks and suburban landscapes. They winter mostly in the tropics around forest edge and semi-open country.
– Baltimore Orioles are primarily insectivorous, but they also eat fruit and nectar. They forage in trees and shrubs, gleaning insects from leaves and twigs. They also visit flowers for nectar and fruit trees for ripe fruit. Baltimore Orioles are attracted to backyard feeders offering oranges, grape jelly, and nectar.
– Baltimore Orioles build a hanging nest that looks like a woven pouch, suspended from the end of a branch. The nest is made of plant fibers, hair, and string, and is lined with soft materials such as feathers and moss. The female builds the nest, while the male guards the territory. The female lays 3-7 eggs, which are incubated for about 12-14 days. The young fledge after about 12-14 days.
– Baltimore Orioles are still widespread and common, with a conservation status of Least Concern. They are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Although direct human impacts on oriole populations are unknown, the increase in the number of orioles wintering in temperate North America may be due to an increase in bird feeders in backyards and elsewhere.
The Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is a mid-sized songbird that is native to southeastern Canada, the eastern United States, Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala. Here are some interesting facts about the Northern Cardinal:
– The Northern Cardinal is a fairly large, long-tailed songbird with a short, very thick bill and a prominent crest. The male is entirely red with a black face, while the female is brownish overall with redder wings and tail. Both sexes have a distinctive crest on the top of their head. They are about 8.3-9.1 inches (21-23 cm) long with a wingspan of 9.8-12.2 inches (25-31 cm) and weigh 1.5-1.7 ounces (42-48 g) .
– Northern Cardinals are found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, forest edges, swamps, and gardens. They are also common in urban and suburban areas, where they are attracted to bird feeders. They are non-migratory and can be seen year-round in their range.
– Northern Cardinals are primarily seed-eaters, but they also eat insects and fruit. They forage on the ground or in low vegetation, using their thick bills to crack open seeds. They are also frequent visitors to bird feeders, where they prefer sunflower seeds and safflower seeds.
– Northern Cardinals build a cup-shaped nest made of twigs, grasses, and bark strips, lined with fine materials such as rootlets and hair. The female lays 2-5 eggs, which are incubated for about 11-13 days. The young fledge after about 10-11 days.
– Northern Cardinals are widespread and abundant, with a conservation status of Least Concern. They are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. They are a popular backyard bird and are often featured in art and literature.
The Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) is a small migratory bird of the family Hirundinidae, found in the Americas. Here are some interesting facts about the Tree Swallow:
– Tree Swallows are small songbirds with long, pointed wings and a short, squared or slightly notched tail. Adult males are blue-green above and white below with blackish flight feathers and a thin black eye mask. Females are duller with more brown in their plumage.
– Tree Swallows are sparrow-sized or smaller, measuring 4.7-5.9 inches (12-15 cm) in length and weighing 0.6-0.9 ounces (16-25 g). They have a wingspan of 11.8-13.8 inches (30-35 cm).
– Tree Swallows are found in a variety of open habitats, including grassy fields, lakes, marshes, and wetlands across northern North America. They are often seen chasing after flying insects with acrobatic twists and turns, their steely blue-green feathers flashing in the sunlight.
– Tree Swallows are primarily insectivorous, feeding on many flies, beetles, winged ants, and others. They also eat some spiders and will eat sand fleas, which are crustaceans. Unlike other swallows, they eat much vegetable material, up to 20% of their annual diet, mostly eaten in winter. Bayberries are their main plant food, but they also eat other berries and seeds.
– Tree Swallows nest in tree cavities and readily take up residence in nest boxes. They breed throughout central and northern North America, with the northernmost limit of their breeding range coinciding approximately with the tree line. The female builds the nest, which is made of grasses, feathers, and other soft materials. The female lays 4-7 eggs, which are incubated for about 14-15 days. The young fledge after about 16-24 days.
– Tree Swallows are widespread and common, with a conservation status of Least Concern. They are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Tree Swallows have helped researchers make major advances in several branches of ecology, and they are among the best-studied birds in North America.
The Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) is a small songbird that is native to North America. Here are some interesting facts about the Yellow-rumped Warbler:
– Yellow-rumped Warblers are fairly large, full-bodied warblers with a large head, sturdy bill, and long, narrow tail. Adult males are blue-green above and white below with blackish flight feathers and a thin black eye mask. Females are duller with more brown in their plumage. They are about the size of a Black-capped Chickadee, measuring 4.7-5.9 inches (12-15 cm) in length and weighing 0.6-0.9 ounces (16-25 g). They have a wingspan of 11.8-13.8 inches (30-35 cm).
– Yellow-rumped Warblers are found in a variety of habitats, including coniferous and mixed forests, open woods, brush, thickets, gardens, and even beaches. They breed throughout central and northern North America, with the northernmost limit of their breeding range coinciding approximately with the tree line. They winter farther north than other warblers, sometimes as far north as Newfoundland, because they are the only warbler able to digest the waxes found in bayberries and wax myrtles.
– Yellow-rumped Warblers are perhaps the most versatile foragers of all warblers. They feed on insects, including caterpillars, wasps, grasshoppers, gnats, aphids, beetles, and many others. They also eat spiders and berries, including bayberry, juniper, wax myrtle, poison ivy, and others. They are the warbler you’re most likely to see fluttering out from a tree to catch a flying insect, and they’re also quick to switch over to eating berries in fall. They have been spotted foraging on washed-up seaweed at the beach, skimming insects from the surface of rivers and the ocean, picking them out of spiderwebs, and grabbing them off piles of manure.
– Yellow-rumped Warblers build a cup-shaped nest made of grasses, bark strips, and other plant fibers, lined with feathers and hair. The female lays 3-5 eggs, which are incubated for about 12-13 days. The young fledge after about 10-12 days.
– Yellow-rumped Warblers are still abundant and widespread, with a conservation status of Least Concern. They are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Yellow-rumped Warblers are often the core member of mixed warbler flocks during migration, especially early in spring and late in fall.
The Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) is the smallest woodpecker in North America, measuring 14 to 18 cm (5.5 to 7.1 in) in length. Here are some interesting facts about the Downy Woodpecker:
– Downy Woodpeckers are small birds with white stomachs, breasts, and backs and black tails and wings. Wings have rows of white spots. Males have a red cap on the back of their heads, which the females lack. They have a straight, chisel-like bill, blocky head, wide shoulders, and straight-backed posture as they lean away from tree limbs and onto their tail feathers. The bill tends to look smaller for the bird’s size than in other woodpeckers.
– Downy Woodpeckers primarily live in forested areas throughout the United States and Canada, with the exception of deserts in the southwest and the northern tundra. They are also found in open woodlands, orchards, and parks everywhere in the United States except for the driest parts of the southwest. They are non-migratory and can be seen year-round in their range.
– Downy Woodpeckers are omnivorous, feeding primarily on insects, although they supplement their diet with seeds and berries. Their primary foods include insects and other arthropods, fruits, seeds, sap, and some cambium tissue. They use their bill to drill into trees and dig out insects like beetles, wasps, moths, and insect larvae. They also eat berries and sunflower seeds. Downy Woodpeckers are one of the few woodpeckers that will come to feeders.
– Downy Woodpeckers build their nests in tree cavities and feed their young primarily on insects. The female lays 3-8 eggs, which are incubated for about 12 days. The young fledge after about 20-25 days.
– Downy Woodpeckers are widespread and common, with a conservation status of Least Concern. They are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Downy Woodpeckers are a common backyard bird that readily comes to bird feeders containing sunflower seeds or suet.
The Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is a passerine bird in the family Corvidae, native to eastern North America. Here are some interesting facts about the Blue Jay:
– Blue Jays are medium-sized songbirds with a perky crest, blue, white, and black plumage, and noisy calls. They have a broad, rounded tail and are smaller than crows but larger than robins. They are about the same size as a Western Scrub-Jay, measuring 9-12 inches (23-30 cm) in length and weighing 2.5-3.5 ounces (70-100 g). They have a wingspan of 13-17 inches (33-43 cm) .
– Blue Jays are found in a variety of habitats, including deciduous and coniferous forests, residential areas, and parks. They are non-migratory and can be seen year-round in their range, which includes most of the eastern and central United States, southern Canada, and Newfoundland.
– Blue Jays are omnivorous, feeding on insects, nuts, seeds, fruits, and small animals. They are known to take and eat eggs and nestlings of other birds, but this is not a common behavior. Most of their diet is composed of insects and nuts. They are also frequent visitors to bird feeders, where they prefer peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet.
– Blue Jays build their nests in trees, usually in a horizontal fork or vertical crotch of a tree trunk. The female lays 2-7 eggs, which are incubated for about 17-18 days. The young fledge after about 17-21 days.
– Blue Jays are widespread and common, with a conservation status of Least Concern. They are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Blue Jays are known for their intelligence and adaptability, and are often featured in art and literature.
The European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) is a medium-sized passerine bird in the starling family, Sturnidae. Here are some interesting facts about the European Starling:
– European Starlings are stocky black birds with short tails, triangular wings, and long, pointed bills. They are about 20 cm (8 in) long and have glossy black plumage with a metallic sheen, which is speckled with white at some times of year. The legs are pink and the bill is black in winter and yellow in summer; young birds have browner plumage than the adults. In breeding season, they show purple and green iridescence on their body with white spots on their wings.
– European Starlings are native to Europe and Asia, but were introduced to North America in the late 1800s. They are now abundant throughout North America, where they are often considered pests. They are common around cities and towns, and can be found in lawns, city parks and squares, fields, and perched in groups at the tops of trees.
– European Starlings are omnivorous, feeding on insects, fruits, seeds, and small animals. They are known to take and eat eggs and nestlings of other birds, but this is not a common behavior. They are great vocal mimics, and can learn the calls of up to 20 different species. They are often seen working their way across the grass, often moving in a slight zig-zag line and seeming to hurry as they stab their bills into the ground every step or two.
– European Starlings build their nests in holes and crevices in trees, buildings, and rooftops. They also plunder other birds’ nests and use them as their own. The female lays 4-6 eggs, which are incubated for about 11-13 days. The young fledge after about 21-23 days.
– European Starlings are widespread and abundant, with a conservation status of Least Concern. They are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. European Starlings are known for their intelligence and adaptability, and are often featured in art and literature.
The Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) is a medium-sized, sleek bird with a large head, short neck, and short, wide bill. It is a native of North and Central America, breeding in open wooded areas in southern Canada and wintering in the southern half of the United States, Central America, and the far northwest of South America.
Here are some interesting facts about the Cedar Waxwing:
– Cedar Waxwings are medium-sized birds with a sleek crest, black mask, pale yellow wash on the belly, and yellow-tipped tail. They are about 5.5-6.7 inches (14-17 cm) in length and weigh 1.1 ounces (32 g). They have a wingspan of 8.7-11.8 inches (22-30 cm). Juveniles are drabber than adults, with coarse streaking on the breast and a reduced mask.
– Cedar Waxwings are found in a variety of habitats, including open wooded areas, orchards, and shrubby areas throughout most of North America. They are non-migratory and can be seen year-round in their range.
– Cedar Waxwings are one of the few North American birds that specialize in eating fruit. They can survive on fruit alone for several months. Their diet includes cedar cones, fruit, holly berries, and insects. They are often heard before they’re seen, so learn their high-pitched call notes. They are often seen working their way across the grass, often moving in a slight zig-zag line and seeming to hurry as they stab their bills into the ground every step or two. Cedar Waxwings are also frequent visitors to bird feeders, where they prefer suet and fruit.
– Cedar Waxwings build their nests in trees, usually in a horizontal fork or vertical crotch of a tree trunk. The female lays 3-5 eggs, which are incubated for about 12-13 days. The young fledge after about 14-18 days.
– Cedar Waxwings are widespread and common, with a conservation status of Least Concern. They are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Cedar Waxwings are known for their beauty and are often featured in art and literature.
1. What are some yellow birds found in Michigan?
Some yellow birds found in Michigan include the American Goldfinch, Yellow Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, and Yellow-rumped Warbler.
2. What types of birds are found in wetlands in Michigan?
Many bird species inhabit small swamps and other wetlands in Michigan, including red-winged blackbirds, green herons, woodcocks, tree swallows, and yellow warblers. Wetland losses have caused the decline of many of these species, including least bitterns, yellow rails, black-crowned night herons, and Forster’s terns.
3. What is a good resource for learning about birds in Michigan for kids?
“The Kids’ Guide to Birds of Michigan” is a field guide that introduces young bird-watchers to 86 common Michigan species, including the birds that kids are most likely to see in their backyard, on a hike, or at a park.
4. What are some trails and sanctuaries in Michigan that are perfect for bird watching?
Some trails and sanctuaries in Michigan that are perfect for bird watching include the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory, and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
5. What types of birds can be considered nuisance wildlife in Michigan?
Some types of birds that can be considered nuisance wildlife in Michigan include Canada geese, house sparrows, European starlings, and rock doves/pigeons. These birds can cause damage to property and create large messes under their roosts.
6. What is a good pocket guide for identifying birds in Michigan?
The “Michigan Birds Pocket Guide” is a handy resource that highlights many species of birds found in Michigan and includes a map featuring the state’s birding hotspots.