Did you know that Michigan is home to the longest freshwater shoreline in the world? The state also has tons of mountains, forests, and lakes, which makes it a popular vacation spot for migratory birds!
Jokes apart, Michigan is a very inhabitable area for birds, and the state hosts over 450 different species of them. In fact, the chances of seeing beautiful and rare backyard birds in Michigan are always against the odds! In Michigan, some of the birds are part-time residents, while the others live there all year long.
In this article, we’ll be looking at more than a dozen famous birds of Michigan and learn a bit about them. Let’s get started!
16 Popular Backyard Birds in Michigan
As mentioned earlier, there are 2 categories of birds in Michigan; year-round resident birds that live permanently in the area and migratory birds that come in Spring, Summer, and Fall. Below, we’ll look at them in two separate sections.
Michigan’s Year-round Resident Birds
These birds can be seen foraging around Michigan at any time of the year. Keep an eye out, and you’ll easily spot one of these birds –
1. American Goldfinch
Also known as ‘spinus tristis,’ the American Goldfinch has bright yellow feathers with a few black accents. The bird molts its body during the late summer and winter seasons.
To most people residing in Michigan, seeing bright yellow feathers is an indication of the upcoming warm season.
American Goldfinches are fond of foraging in fields, orchards, and gardens. If you set up native thistles and feeders in your backyard, you’ll definitely attract a bunch of American Goldfinches there. Keep in mind that they’re vegetarians with strict diets of seeds from sunflowers and composite plants!
2. Northern Cardinal
The Northern Cardinals have beautiful red plumage over their bodies. Their distinctive visual feature is their majestic red crest and a black mask around the beak. Although these birds prefer living in dense vegetation with shrubs and thorns, they’re also fond of parks and backyards.
Female Cardinals have pale brown plumage with red tinges, but both male and female Cardinals can sing beautiful, melodic tunes. They love berries of different small plants, crushed peanuts, and cracked corn, so you can use some to tempt a few Northern Cardinals to your feeder.
3. European Starling
This breed of Starling birds has colorful plumage over their bodies. In summer, they’re mostly black in color with bluish feathers, which gives them a beautiful appearance. During winter, they have white spots on their bodies and are not as glossy as in other seasons.
Despite their cute appearance, European Starlings are actually very invasive; they kill other birds, destroy their nests and put up a fight against other birds trying to get a bite from feeders!
Speaking of which, they like eating small seeds and berries. But you won’t have to do anything to attract European Starlings; if you’ve got a feeder, they’ll show up in your backyard anyway.
4. Tufted Titmouse
The Tufted Titmice are very cute-looking birds with a melodious chirp. They have a blue-grey color combination on their upper body, along with white undersides and a bit of peach color towards their tails.
Their distinctive feature is their lovely, tiny crests. Just look at the adorable birdie above!
You’re likely to see Tufted Titmice in all seasons, but if you have a feeder in your backyard, you’ll definitely see them more often. The titmice are known to eat a variety of food, including seeds, berries, suet, and nuts. They aren’t difficult to attract, and they’re known to socialize with other birds as well.
5. Red-bellied Woodpecker
One of the many breeds of woodpeckers, these Red-bellied birds have distinctive bright red caps. The rest of their body is mostly white, with a pint of red underneath. Their wings are black and have small white patterns all over.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are quite common in backyards and gardens during all seasons. If there’s a dead tree around, you may have seen them foraging for food or excavating a new nest in it. They’re sure to visit your backyard if you’ve got sunflower seeds, suet, or nuts in your feeder.
6. Eastern Bluebird
The Eastern Bluebird is a small, beautiful bird that comes from a family of Northern American songbirds. These birds have blue feathers all over their upper body, including their head, wings, and tail. Underneath, they have a brick-red tinge with a white belly.
Look at the picture again; Eastern Bluebirds are cute birds, don’t you think? Although you’ll see many of them in your backyard, they’re usually not seen near feeders. They’re very picky about their food, and only like it fresh, for example, mealworms!
Michigan’s Migratory Birds
The migratory birds in Michigan arrive during Spring, Summer, and Fall seasons. Once winter is over, lots of migratory birds can be seen all over the state. Although they aren’t as easy to spot as year-round resident birds, you’ll still see them in backyards and gardens.
7. Indigo Bunting
Also known as the ‘Blue canaries,’ the Indigo Bunting has blue feathers all over its body. The all-blue bird is definitely a sight to look at! It has a slightly deeper blue on its head and a silver-gray beak. Female Indigo Buntings look the same but have brown feathers instead of blue.
These birds can sing cheerful and melodious tunes, and you can hear them whistle throughout spring and summer. They like visiting backyards and are easy to attract with a feeder containing small seeds such as nyjer or thistle.
Fun Fact: Indigo Buntings sing different songs across their neighborhoods! Young males learn their tunes from the older Buntings in their vicinity, and they sing almost identical songs.
8. Gray Catbird
Did you know that the Gray Catbirds are the most popular singers in their town? Jokes apart, they sing very catchy tunes that are sure to get stuck in your head! This beautiful somber-gray bird has a black cap on its head and a rich rusty-brown tinge under its tail.
Although these birds aren’t very social, they’re still quite energetic; you’ll see them hopping in your backyard or fluttering through branches. Gray Catbirds aren’t difficult to attract, so you should see them most of the time, except in winter. They like to eat grains and small seeds from feeders.
9. Red-Eyed Vireo
The Red-eyed Vireo is a small songbird that is native to Northern America. They can be spotted in Michigan during the winter seasons when they migrate towards the south. The bird is covered in an olive-brown plumage with a white underbody. Their distinctive feature is the color pattern on their head.
Red-eyed Vireos have a gray crown with black and white stripes along with their angular head. As you’ve guessed, they have crimson-red eyes that look magnificent. But the coolest thing about these birds is their unending songs; each male can sing 30 or more unique and different tunes!
10. Eastern Wood-Pewee
Like most Pewee species, the Eastern Wood-Pewees are small sparrow-sized flycatcher birds with short legs and an upright posture. These birds have a triangular-shaped head with a slightly peaked crown. On its upper body, it has olive-gray feathers and dark-colored wings with streaks of white.
Have you noticed the buffy body of the cute bird above? Generally, young Eastern Pewees are buffy until they grow into thinner adults. They’re commonly seen in Michigan, and you don’t need extra measures to attract them in your backyard. Moreover, they’re not known for coming to feeders.
11. American Robin
The American Robin is a songbird that is named after European Robins because of their reddish-orange breast, even though both species aren’t very related. American Robins are abundant in Michigan, and you’ll definitely see them hunting for worms and stuff in your backyard!
Speaking of which, these birds love eating small insects, nuts, berries, and seeds from small plants and shrubs. As songbirds, American Robins are very melodious singers; they have a distinctive chirp that you can tell apart easily. Fun fact, American Robins get intoxicated when they have too many honeysuckle berries!
12. Black-Capped Chickadee
Let’s take a moment to adore this cute birdie! Black-Capped Chickadees have a beautiful appearance with deep-black caps over their heads and white underbodies. The rest of their body is mostly gray in color with streaks of black and white. Under their wings, they have a tinge of brown feathers.
Despite their size, they can break hard shells and nuts with their strong beaks! They’re known to be very friendly, and you can easily lure one to your hands by feeding them nuts, berries, and seeds of small plants. On another note, you’ll definitely enjoy their curious nature whenever they’re in your backyard.
13. White-Breasted Nuthatch
One of the smallest birds on this list, White-Breasted Nuthatches, is commonly seen at feeders in Michigan. They have a short tail and oversized head, which gives them a very adorable appearance. With black caps, bluish-gray wings, and white chests, these birds can be identified easily by their plumage.
These birds are known to socialize with other birds, such as Chickadees, to find food. Their diet primarily consists of small insects, nuts, and seeds from various plants. If you see a White-Breasted Nuthatch making short trips to your feeder, they’re probably stocking up food in tree barks.
14. Blue Jay
The Blue Jay is a big songbird with beautiful black and blue plumage. If you’ve got oak trees with acorns lying around in your backyard, you’re sure to see these bright blue birds frequently. The color pattern on their upper body is mostly blue and white with streaks of black and white.
They have a black collar and white underbody. Although these birds look adorable, they have a notorious reputation for raiding other birds’ nests and stealing their eggs. If you’ve got a feeder with nuts, suet, grains, and sunflower seeds, they’re sure to show up in your backyard.
15. Red-Winged Blackbird
As you can tell from its name, these birds have a glossy black body with scarlet-red and yellow patches on their wings. Although Red-Winged Blackbirds are beautiful birds, they’re probably the most aggressive ones on this list! They’re highly territorial and frequently engage in fights with other birds of their family.
Red-Winged Blackbirds are easy to attract, and you’ll see them mostly during summer. If you’ve got a feeder with cracked nuts, grains, and seeds, they’ll pay a visit to your backyard. You can also spread mixed grains and seeds on the ground as these birds prefer to eat from the ground.
16. Baltimore Oriole
Lastly, we have the Baltimore Orioles; these small birds have colorful plumage with brown, black, and white markings on their upper body and bright yellow feathers underneath. Unlike most other birds in Michigan, Baltimore Orioles prefer ripe dark-coloured fruits.
Their diet includes red cherries, purple grapes, berries, and seeds of green plants. They aren’t hard to attract, so you’ll frequently see them in your backyard during the summer seasons.
Fun fact, they don’t ‘bite’ like most birds when eating fruits. Instead, they’ll be ‘gaping’ to get a juicy swath, from which they’ll drink with their brush-tipped tongues.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I identify a bird in my backyard?
The best method for identifying backyard birds is to apply an observation approach, which includes noting down the birds’ behavior, chirping/calling voice, plumage color, and field markings.
- Are House Finches in Michigan?
Although American Goldfinches are very common in Michigan, not all finches are native to the State, including House Finches.
- What birds stay year-round in Michigan?
Some notable year-round resident birds of Michigan are Chickadees, Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Nuthatches breeds.
- What do you feed winter birds in Michigan?
Usually, most birds eat small seeds such as sunflower and nyjer/thistle seeds. You can also use mixed grains and seed mixes in your feeder. During winter, suet is great as a nutritional food for various species of birds.
You’ll definitely see these beautiful backyard birds in Michigan throughout the seasons. While some birds are easy to lure with a feeder, others prefer to stay away from humans. If you’re really into birds, you can visit the national parks in the state to find more rare birds!