Comprehensive Guide to the Birds of Michigan

Did you know that Michigan is home to more than 400 different species of birds? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a look at some of the most common and interesting birds found in the mitten state.

The state of Michigan is an important stopover destination for birds migrating along the Atlantic flyway, making it a great birding destination.

Tell me the most common bird in Michigan?

Tell me the most common bird in Michigan?

The answer is the American Robin. This striking woodland thrush is a familiar sight to bird watchers in Michigan and throughout much of the United States. It is a large songbird with a bold black-and-orange head, back, and wings that contrast sharply with its white breast and belly.

While the American robin may be the most familiar Michigan bird, it is far from being the only one. Michigan has a diverse array of birds that can be found throughout the state’s forests, fields, wetlands, and waterways.

Many of these Michigan birds are migratory species that pass through the state each year on their seasonal journeys between North America and their wintering grounds to the south.

Michigan Bird Identification (Pictures of backyard birds of Michigan)

Michigan is home to more than 400 species of birds. From small songbirds to majestic raptors, many fascinating feathered creatures call the mitten state their home. While some are year-round residents, many more pass through during seasonal migrations.

To help you identify the different types of Michigan birds you may be seeing in your own backyard, we’ve put together a pictorial guide to Michigan birds.


The Cowbird is one of the most common birds you will find in Michigan. It has a mottled, black plumage with white spots on its wings and tail feathers, and yellow eyes. The Cowbird is found in open grasslands, meadows, agricultural fields, gardens, and woodland edges throughout the state.

They feed mainly on weed seeds, insects, and other small invertebrates. Cowbirds are known to be aggressive when it comes to breeding and will often lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, such as warblers, vireos, and orioles.

Mute Swans

Michigan is home to a variety of unique bird species, including the majestic Mute Swan. These graceful birds are found throughout the Great Lakes region, from the Great Lakes themselves to inland lakes, rivers and marshes. In winter they may be seen in smaller numbers on larger bodies of water or even flocking around city parks with other waterfowl.

These stately birds have a white plumage with an orange bill and feet, dark eyes and black legs. The males are slightly larger than the females but both sexes possess graceful long necks and a large wingspan.

Mute Swans often mate for life, forming strong bonds with their chosen partner. They build nests of vegetation near the water and lay three to eight eggs in a single year. The female will incubate the eggs while the male stands guard nearby, ready to protect her at a moment’s notice. Once hatched, both parents are responsible for caring for and teaching their young how to swim and feed themselves.

Mute Swans have adapted well to areas where they can find food and shelter, but they do face several threats in Michigan. Habitat destruction due to development is an issue, as well as pollution and predation by animals such as mink, raccoons, foxes and humans.

The Mute Swan also has a conflict with native species like the Trumpeter swan, which competes with it for habitat and food.

Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting

One of the most common Michigan birds is the Snow Bunting. This species is found in all regions throughout Michigan, and can be seen during the winter months at parks, beaches, lakes, and open fields.

The Snow Bunting is a small bird with a white face and mostly white feathers on its back. It has a darker brownish color on its wings and tail. The male Snow Bunting’s feathers are more distinct with a black spot at the center of their back, while the females have dusky mottling all over their backs.

The Snow Bunting typically feeds on seeds, grains and insects found in open grassy areas. They often forage for food in groups, and they sometimes form large flocks of hundreds of individuals. During the breeding season, Snow Buntings will establish territories and defend them from other birds.

They usually nest in crevices on cliffs or rocky outcrops, but due to their adaptability, they can also be found nesting on moorland edges, quarries, and even mowed lawns.

House Sparrow

The House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) is a common bird found in michigan. It is native to Europe, but has been introduced to North America and can be seen throughout michigan. This species prefers open areas such as farmlands, parks, gardens and other urbanized areas.

They are considered an agricultural pest because they/ tend to eat grain crops, but they are also beneficial in some areas because they feed on common agricultural pests such as moths and caterpillars. House Sparrows can be recognized by their white cheeks, brown heads and backs, grey breast, and black throat.

They are considered a nuisance species in michigan, and can become a problem when they build their nests on balconies or window ledges.

Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll

Small Michigan birds that migrate in winter. They look like little sparrows with a mottled chestnut and white coloring, dark eyes, and a black chin. The male has red feathers on its head while the female lacks them.

Redpolls eat mostly weed seeds and spend their days flitting through trees, shrubs, and grassland foraging for food. Redpolls can be found in Michigan during the winter months when they migrate south from their summer range in Canada.

Northern Cardinals

Northern Cardinal is easily identified by its bright red feathers and black mask. These michigan birds are known for their love of sunflower seeds, which can be found in most michigan bird feeders. They are also attracted to trees and shrubs, especially those loaded with fruit.

These michigan birds are not shy and will often come quite close to people to feed. The male cardinals are particularly vocal during the mating season, when they can be heard singing their distinctive songs.

Northern mockingbirds

Mockingbirds are one of the most interesting and engaging birds that you can see in the wild. These versatile birds can be found all across North America, and they are known for their beautiful songs and intriguing behaviors. which include a mix of mimicry from other bird species and Michigan species.

If you’re lucky enough to see a mockingbird in person, here are some things you should know about them!

Mockingbirds are omnivorous and feed on a variety of foods including insects, berries, fruits, and seeds. They use their long beaks to probe for food in the ground or in trees, scrubs, and shrubs. Northern mockingbirds also have impressive flying skills; they can reach speeds up to 45 mph!

Northern mockingbirds are extremely territorial and will fiercely protect their nesting area from other birds or animals.

Mockingbirds molt twice per year, during which they replace all of their feathers in a process called molt migration. During molt migration, michigan mockingbirds migrate south to warmer climates and then return back to michigan in the spring.

Mockingbirds have an incredibly varied vocal repertoire, consisting of songs they learned from other birds as well as their own unique songs. They are known for their ability to learn and remember up to 200 different songs!

What are Yellow Birds in Michigan?

What are Yellow Birds in Michigan?

Yellow birds are a common sight in Michigan, especially during the spring and summer months. The most common yellow bird found in Michigan is the American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis). This species can be distinguished by its bright yellow color, black wings, and white outer tail feathers. They feed primarily on seeds from thistle, dandelion, and other plants.

Some other yellow birds that can be seen in Michigan are the Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia), the Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula), and the Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus).The Eastern Kingbird is slender with white throat patches and a mottled gray-brown body.The Yellow Warbler is yellow, green and brown with a white line over its eye.

Piping Plovers

Piping plovers are shorebirds that live along coastal areas in North America. These birds are known for their beautiful markings and their unique piping call. Piping plovers migrate south in the winter, and can be found on beaches and in marshes from Texas to Florida.

Despite their beauty, piping plovers are often threatened by development and human activity. Efforts are being made to protect these birds, but they remain a vulnerable species.

What do you think of when you hear the word “plover?” If you’re thinking of a small, brown bird with a black band across its chest, then you’re thinking of a piping plover! These little birds are found on sandy beaches all along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. They’re known for their unique call, which gives them their name.

Piping plovers are becoming increasingly rare, so it’s important to learn about these little birds and help protect them. Keep reading to learn more about piping plovers!

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

The song sparrow is one of the most common and abundant birds in North America. They can be found in many different habitats, from forests to open fields, and are well-adapted to living near humans. These little birds are known for their beautiful melody, which can often be heard coming from backyards across the continent.

Song sparrows are also interesting creatures with an interesting courtship ritual. Keep reading to learn more about these cheerful backyard birds!

song sparrows are a very common sight. They can be seen flitting between trees and shrubs or hopping around on the ground in search of food. Song sparrows typically have brown mottled feathers on their backs and grey underparts with white streaks running down them. They also have an obvious eye-ring, which is a distinguishing feature of this species.

The song sparrow, like many other birds, has a distinct and beautiful courtship display. During this ritual, the male will sing from an elevated perch in order to attract potential mates. The female usually replies with her own song, which is softer than that of the male.

Song sparrows can be found throughout Michigan, especially in areas near lakes and rivers. They are most active during the early morning and late afternoon.These birds feed on insects, seeds, and berries, so you may spot them munching on grass or scavenging around your backyard for a snack!

Golden Eagles

Golden Eagle is one of the most recognizable michigan birds and can be seen soaring above wilderness areas in search of food. The bald eagle population has increased significantly since it was listed as an endangered species in 1967, and michigan is home to a healthy population of these michigan birds.

Golden eagles are large raptors with a wingspan of up to 8 feet, making them one of michigan’s most impressive michigan birds. Golden Eagles prefer open areas, such as fields and pastures for hunting, but can also be found in forests, mountains and wetlands. They feed primarily on rabbits and other small mammals, but also on reptiles, amphibians, and carrion.

In michigan, golden eagles can be seen year-round but are most abundant in winter when they gather to hunt along michigan shores and waterways. The best bets for seeing a michigan golden eagle are during early morning or late afternoon hours as they soar high above michigan’s landscape looking for food.

If you are lucky enough to spot one of michigan’s golden eagles, be sure to keep your distance as they are known to be territorial and can become aggressive if disturbed.

American Robin

The American Robin is a distinctive michigan bird, easily identifiable by its red breast and black head. It loves to nest in coniferous trees such as pine and spruce, though it can also be found in some deciduous trees. This michigan bird prefers open spaces such as fields and lawns, but can also be found in wooded areas and even cities.

Its diet consists mainly of insects, fruits, and berries. The American Robin is a migratory michigan bird, meaning it travels south during the winter months to warmer climates before returning to michigan in the spring.

Belted Kingfisher

I was recently birding at a local park when I came across a Belted Kingfisher. This beautiful bird is not common in my area, so I was excited to see it.

The kingfisher sat perched on a tree overlooking the creek below, and I managed to snap a few pictures before it flew away. Its bright blue and white plumage is stunning, and I can understand why this bird is considered one of the most beautiful in the world. If you ever get the chance to see a Belted Kingfisher, be sure to take advantage of it! They are definitely worth glimpsing.

Cerulean Warbler

The cerulean warbler is a migratory songbird that breeds in the eastern United States and Canada. Each fall, the majority of these birds fly to Central America to winter. Every so often, you might spot a cerulean warbler during its migration north in the spring.

These small birds are unmistakable with their bright blue plumage. In addition to their beautiful coloration, cerulean warblers are known for their unique song. Listen for this bird’s tuneful trill next time you’re outdoors!

Downy Woodpecker

The Downy Woodpecker is a small black and white woodpecker that is common in North America. These birds are often seen foraging for food on the ground or in trees, and they can be identified by their characteristic crest and vertical stripes on their wings. Downy Woodpeckers are known for their loud, raspy call, and they can be fun to watch as they fly around searching for food.

In Michigan, the Downy Woodpecker is often seen in backyards and parks. They typically feed on insects, seeds, and fruit, but they have also been known to eat suet from bird feeders. The best time to observe these birds is during the spring and summer months when they are more active and easier to spot.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

The red-winged blackbird is a medium-sized bird that is found in North America. These birds are identifiable by their black feathers and red wing markings. They are typically found near water, where they eat insects and other small prey. Red-winged blackbirds are considered to be very aggressive birds, and will attack anything that they believe is a threat.

In the spring, these birds can be heard singing their distinctive song. In Michigan, red-winged blackbirds are a common sight and can be found in most parts of the state.

White-breasted Nuthatch

I saw a White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) out my office window today! This small, stocky bird is easily identified by its black cap and throat, white breast and blue-gray back. It was hunting for insects on the tree trunk near the parking lot. I often hear their distinctive call around my neighborhood, a nasal “yank-yank.” Although they are common across much of North America, I always enjoy spotting these little birds.

White-breasted Nuthatches are year-round residents of Michigan and can be found in all types of woods, from thick coniferous forests to deciduous stands. They feed on insects and seeds, but will also come to bird feeders for sunflower seeds and suet.


In conclusion, Michigan is home to a wide variety of birds that are perfect for bird watching. From the majestic bald eagle to the colorful wood thrush, Michigan is full of beautiful sights and sounds. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly excursion or an educational experience, Michigan has something for everyone. So, don’t hesitate to explore Michigan’s bird population and discover the beauty of Michigan’s bird life. With a little research, you can easily find great opportunities for michigan birds in any season.

And with dedication, you can help improve Michigan’s ecosystems by supporting conservation efforts. Michigan’s birds are a great reminder of the diversity and beauty that can be found in nature, so don’t forget to take time to appreciate Michigan’s wonderful avian population.

With its diverse range of habitats, Michigan is a birding haven for those who enjoy learning about and watching michigan’s feathered friends. So, grab your binoculars and explore michigan’s many birding hotspots to get a glimpse of michigan’s beautiful bird population. Enjoy!


What are the big brown birds in Michigan?

The big brown birds that are commonly seen in Michigan are American Robins, Pileated Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Eastern Bluebirds, and Great Horned Owls. Other large species of birds found in the state are Wild Turkeys, Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, Snowy Owls, and Sandhill Cranes.

What is the most common backyard bird in Michigan?

The American Robin is the most commonly seen backyard bird in Michigan. That’s just one of the many bird species that can be found in the mitten state. Michigan is home to nearly 400 species of birds, including hawks, eagles, warblers, and waterfowl. This diversity of bird life makes it an important location for studying and protecting these feathered friends.

What is the largest flying bird in Michigan?

The Turkey Vulture is Michigan’s largest flying bird. It has a wingspan of up to 6 feet and can soar for hours on thermals rising from the ground. The turkey vulture is a scavenger, feeding mainly on carrion that it finds on the ground. It also feeds on insects, grain, and fruit.

What bird Sounds like a monkey in Michigan?

The Barred Owl (Strix varia) is a large owl native to Michigan. Its hoots are often described as sounding like monkeys, particularly when they’re agitated or angry. It’s most active at night and spends its days roosting in the dense foliage of forests, where it blends into its surroundings.
The Barred Owl is most commonly found in deciduous and coniferous forests, but it can also occur in riparian areas, along lakeshores, or even in suburban backyards.

What birds stay in Michigan all year?

Michigan is home to a variety of migrating and year-round birds. The state has approximately 310 bird species that have been documented, making michigan one of the most bird-rich areas in the entire Midwest.

Julian Goldie - Owner of

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.