Michigan’s Blue Birds: A Comprehensive Guide

It’s said that the early bird gets the worm, but in Michigan, the early bird gets to see a bluebird. These brightly-colored birds are a common sight in the state during the spring and summer months, and they can be found in nearly every corner of Michigan. In this comprehensive guide, we will take a closer look at these fascinating creatures, from their physical characteristics to their behavior and mating habits. 

15 different types of bluebirds in Michigan

1. Belted Kingfisher

 Belted Kingfisher

The belted kingfisher is a distinctive bird with a large head, long bill, and chunky body. The upperparts are blue-grey, while the underparts are white with a black band across the breast.

The males have a blue band, while the females have a chestnut-brown band. These birds can be found near ponds, lakes, and rivers, where they perch on branches or power lines before swooping down to catch fish. They use their powerful bills to bash their prey against a hard surface before swallowing it whole.

In addition to fish, belted kingfishers also eat crayfish, frogs, and insects. These birds typically nest in holes excavated in riverbanks or steep cliffs. Both parents help to incubate the eggs and care for the young.

Belted kingfishers are fairly common birds, but their populations have declined in recent years due to habitat loss and pollution.

2. Common Grackle

The Common Grackle is a species of bird that can be found in North America. These blue birds are particularly prevalent in the Midwest, where they are a common sight in Michigan. Grackles are known for their loud calls, which can often be heard in the early morning hours. These birds are also notable for their glossy plumage, which can range in color from black to blue.

In the wild, Common Grackles typically eat insects and other small animals. However, they will also eat seeds and fruits if they are available. These birds typically nest in trees or shrubs, but they will also use man-made structures such as power lines and buildings.

Although they are not considered to be endangered, Common Grackles can sometimes be considered to be a nuisance due to their loud calls and aggressive behavior.

3. Red-Breasted Nuthatch

The bluebird is a small thrush with blue upperparts, rusty orange breast and pale blue eggs. They are one of the first birds to return to Michigan in the spring and can often be seen perching on power lines or flying low over fields in search of insects.

The bluebird is a welcome sight in any yard and will readily use nest boxes. However, bluebirds are in decline due to habitat loss and competition from introduced species such as the house sparrow. To help increase the population of bluebirds in Michigan, you can put up a bluebird nesting box in your yard.

These little blue birds will bring beauty and life to your property while helping to control insect populations. 

4. Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

The blue-gray gnatcatcher is a small blue bird that is found throughout the eastern and midwestern United States. In Michigan, these birds can be found in woodlands, marshes, and fields. They are most active during the day, when they can be seen flitting about in search of insects to eat.

The blue-gray gnatcatcher is a fairly common bird, but its numbers have been declining in recent years. While the exact cause of this decline is not known, it is believed to be due to habitat loss and fragmentation. As development continues to encroach on natural areas, it becomes increasingly difficult for blue-gray gnatcatchers to find suitable habitat.

As a result, these birds are becoming increasingly rare, making them an important species to conservation efforts.

5. Northern Parula

The Northern Parula is a small bluebird that is common in forests of the northeastern United States. In Michigan, they are most often found in the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula. Adult Northern Parulas have blue upperparts, a yellow throat and breast, and a white belly. Their wings are blue with two white bars, and their tails are blue with white stripes.

Northern Parulas eat insects and spiders, which they catch by flying from branch to branch or by hopping on the ground. They build their nests in tree cavities or on ledges, and each nest contains 3-5 eggs. Northern Parulas are active all year round, but they are most often seen in the spring and summer when they are breeding.

during the fall and winter, they form small flocks and roost together in trees. While they are not currently considered threatened or endangered, the population of Northern Parulas has declined in recent years due to habitat loss.

6. White-Breasted Nuthatch

The Northern Parula is a small bluebird that is common in forests of the northeastern United States. In Michigan, they are most often found in the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula. Adult Northern Parulas have blue upperparts, a yellow throat and breast, and a white belly.

Their wings are blue with two white bars, and their tails are blue with white stripes. Northern Parulas eat insects and spiders, which they catch by flying from branch to branch or by hopping on the ground.

They build their nests in tree cavities or on ledges, and each nest contains 3-5 eggs. Northern Parulas are active all year round, but they are most often seen in the spring and summer when they are breeding. during the fall and winter, they form small flocks and roost together in trees.

While they are not currently considered threatened or endangered, the population of Northern Parulas has declined in recent years due to habitat loss.

7. Cerulean Warbler

Cerulean Warbler

The blue bird is a beautiful creature that has been around for centuries.Blue birds were once considered to be a very rare species of bird, but they are now quite commonly found in Michigan. They are most often seen in the spring and summer months when they are actively nesting and feeding their young.

The blue bird is a small songbird that is typically about six inches in length with blue feathers and a white belly. They are very active birds and can often be seen flying from branch to branch in search of food. The blue bird is an important part of the ecosystem as they help to control the insect population.

They are also considered to be an indicator species, which means that their populations can give scientists insight into the health of the environment.

8. Eastern Bluebird

The Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) is one of the most popular species in Michigan. It can be found in open woodlands, as well as grassy fields and meadows. They also frequently nest in boxes and other artificial structures put up by humans.

Adult males are a striking bright blue with an orange chest while adult females are more muted in color. Eastern Bluebirds feed mainly on insects and fruits, but they also eat some seeds and berries. 

Throughout the year, Michigan’s Eastern Bluebird population is stable. However, during the winter months their numbers can decrease as they migrate to warmer climates. The birds generally move southward starting in late September and October, before returning in late March or April.

A key factor in the success of Eastern Bluebird populations is the availability of suitable nesting sites. Though they are known to use cavities in trees, man-made structures such as birdhouses help provide greater habitat opportunities for them.

Homeowners can build or purchase bluebird houses which should be properly situated in open fields or woodlands. Additionally, it is important to ensure the birdhouses are free of any predators such as squirrels and cats. 

9. Black-throated Blue Warbler

The Black-throated Blue Warbler is a small songbird that is native to the Michigan area. This bird is mostly blue, with black markings on its head, back, and wings. It also has white spots on its breast, belly, and sides. The male has a distinctive black throat patch during mating season. The female has no distinct throat patch.

The Black-throated Blue Warbler can be found in open woodlands and forest edges during the migratory season. It feeds mainly on insects such as caterpillars, beetles, and bugs. During the summer months, they will also eat fruit, berries, and nuts.

Nesting takes place in April or May depending on the area. The female builds the nest in a low shrub or tree, which is usually near water or dense vegetation. The male will help with the incubation of the eggs and feeding of the young.

10. Purple Martin

Purple Martin

The Purple Martin is a beautiful blue bird that is native to Michigan. These birds are essential to the state’s ecosystem, as they help to control insect populations. Purple Martins typically mate for life, and they return to the same nesting site year after year.

These birds build their nests in trees, and they often use man-made nest boxes. In recent years, the Purple Martin population has declined due to habitat loss and other factors. However, efforts are being made to protect these birds, and it is hoped that their numbers will begin to increase in the coming years.

11. Barn Swallows

Barn swallows are blue birds that can be found in Michigan. They have a long, deeply forked tail and pointed wings. The males have blue upperparts with a rusty throat and upper breast. The females have blue-gray upperparts and a paler throat and breast. Barn swallows are social birds that live in colonies.

They build mud nests on buildings or in trees. Barn swallows eat insects, such as flies, beetles, and ants. They catch their prey in flight. Barn swallows are migratory birds. They spend the winter in South America and the Caribbean. In the spring, they return to North America to breed.

12. Rock Pigeons

Rock pigeons, also known as common pigeons or feral pigeons, may be seen in cities across Michigan. They are descendant from the wild rock dove, which is native to Europe and parts of Asia. Rock pigeons have been introduced around the world and can now be found in almost every country.

In Michigan, rock pigeons are common in urban areas. They can often be seen perched on high buildings or nesting near bridges and overpasses. Rock pigeons eat a variety of food sources including insects, seeds, scraps from humans, and grain from agricultural fields.

Rock pigeons have unique plumage that is variable depending on the region they inhabit. Common colors include gray, black, or white. They have a distinct patch of color on their wings that is usually blue-green in males and brown-gray in females.

Rock pigeons are monogamous and mate for life. Nesting pairs create a nest out of mud and twigs which they will return to year after year. Rock pigeon eggs are white and the female incubates them for around 18 days. The young fledge after another 20 to 30 days and remain in the nest for some time before venturing out to find food.

Due to their long association with humans, rock pigeons have been domesticated and used in breeding programs to develop breeds that have unique colors and patterns. This has led to a wide variety of breeds that can be found in cities around the world, including Michigan.

13. Blue Jays

Blue Jays

Blue Jays are one of the most popular birds in Michigan. They are blue all over with a white chest and a black neck. The blue Jay is a very active bird. They are known to fly into trees and then hop from branch to branch until they find the perfect spot to land.

Blue Jays are not just blue, but their blue is so intense that it looks almost like blueberry pie filling. The males and females look alike, but the males are usually a little larger than the females.

Blue Jays mate for life, which means they find one partner and stick with them until one of them dies. If you’re lucky enough to see a blue Jay, you’re sure to be impressed by their beauty.

14. Indigo Bunting

The Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) is a small North American bird that is seen throughout Michigan. The males are bright blue with a black head and back, while the females are brown with some streaks of blue. These birds feed mainly on insects, but will also eat berries and seeds when available.

They breed in open woodlands, grasslands and thickets, often nesting near hedgerows or edges of woodlots.

The Indigo Bunting is one of the most common birds found in Michigan’s forests and fields. They are known to migrate long distances, sometimes traveling up to 500 miles from their summer breeding grounds to wintering areas in the southern United States. During migration, they can be seen in flocks of up to several hundred individuals.

Indigo Buntings are relatively common in Michigan’s woodlands and fields, but populations have declined due to loss of habitat. They rely on old-growth forests for nesting sites and large patches of grassland for foraging. Conservation efforts have worked to preserve their habitat, including the protection of large areas of grassland and keeping agricultural fields in rotation.

15. Tree Swallows

Tree Swallows

The Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) is a small, colorful songbird native to Michigan. This species of bluebird has a broad distribution and can be found in open woodlands, marshes, grasslands, agricultural fields, and suburban gardens across the state.

These birds are relatively large with an average body length of 5.5-7.1 inches and a wingspan of 9-11 inches. They have an iridescent blue back, white belly, black eyes, and a square-tipped tail.

Tree swallows feed mainly on insects such as mosquitoes, dragonflies, mayflies, midges, moths, beetles and grasshoppers which they hunt by flying low over open fields or wetlands. They also eat berries and drink nectar from flowering plants.

To attract mates, male Tree Swallows will perform courtship flights of up to 40 feet in the air with their wings raised above their heads and then dive steeply towards the ground.

Tree swallows are monogamous and will often breed in large colonies of up to 500 pairs. In Michigan, they typically nest in tree cavities, bird boxes, or other artificial nesting structures. They typically lay 3-7 eggs and incubate them for 14-16 days before the chicks hatch.

Adult Tree Swallows are vulnerable to predation from larger birds such as hawks and owls, as well as mammalian predators such as raccoons and cats. To protect themselves from these threats, they will often fly in large flocks and have a watchful lookout for potential predators.

In Michigan, Tree Swallows are classified as a species of “special concern” due to their declining population in the state. Conservation efforts are underway to promote the protection of these birds and their habitats.

This includes installing nest boxes in suitable areas, controlling invasive species that compete with them for resources, and providing educational programs to raise awareness about the importance of preserving these beautiful blue birds.

Conclusion

Michigan is home to many species of beautiful blue birds that serve important roles in the local ecosystem. From the Blue Jay to the Indigo Bunting and Tree Swallow, these birds provide essential services such as insect control, seed dispersal, and pollination. As human development continues to modify their habitats and put pressure on their populations, it is important for us to take action to protect these species and preserve their habitats.

Conservation efforts such as installing nest boxes, controlling invasive species, and providing educational programs can have a positive impact on bluebird populations in Michigan.

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