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Michigan Birds: Top 15 Michigan Birds

Michigan Birds: Top 15 Michigan Birds

Michigan Birds More than 45 birds have been discovered in Michigan. The diversity of the state is astounding because of the state’s size as well as its closeness to four Great Lakes — and the fact that it has an impressive array of habitats for birds, such as hardwood and boreal forests dunes, prairies as well as aquatic ecosystems, which include those of the Great Lakes’ open waters.

So, what are the 15 best birds that you can see in Michigan? The answer in large part is contingent on the type of area you’re in. For this reason, we’ve divided our list into four habitat-based categories: boreal/conifer, hardwood/deciduous, Great Lakes/coastal/wetland, and prairie/grassland. The species were picked by members of the staff who live in the area. Of course, since there are so many species, other species will also have the same “top 15” lists.

While Michigan is a haven for numerous species of birds, the birds that inhabit Michigan face a variety of human-caused or anthropogenic dangers. Check out this list to find out more about these threats and the efforts being made to address these threats, and how you can assist.

Boreal/Conifer Habitats

Coniferous forests cover a large portion of Northern Michigan, especially the Upper Peninsula. Most species of the forest are spruce the tamarack and fir, Jack, Red, and White Pine; Northern White Cedar as well as Eastern Hemlock.

Spruce Grouse

michigan starling bird

Michigan starling bird

The Spruce Grouse is a fan of large Mid-stature Jack Pine forests and spruce lowlands in the northeastern Upper Peninsula and central and western Upper Peninsula. Look for backcountry roads close to Whitefish Point (Farm Truck Trail, South Preacher Road) and other areas to the north of Newberry as well as areas north of Newberry, and Yellow Dog Plains west of Marquette for this magnificently tranquil grouse. It is sometimes referred to by the name of “fool’s hen.” Family groups can bein seen during autumn and in the summer. They rarely appear in Kirtland’s Warbler zones of management in The northern Lower Peninsula. This species is present across a lot of Canada and Alaska However, it is a relatively small and declining area within certain parts of northern “lower 48” states.

Red Crossbill

michigan state flower and bird

Michigan state flower and bird

Pay attention to the Red Crossbill’s “jip-jip” call notes in large forests made up of Jack, Red, and White Pine between Grand Marais and Whitefish Point in the Upper Peninsula which is where these birds are found in a wide range. They are not as easily seen elsewhere in Michigan however they are commonplace in irruption years. The crossbill’s mandible tips crisscrossed aid in extracting seeds from cones of conifer.

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

michigan wild birds

Michigan wild birds

A common breeder found in Upper Peninsula spruce-tamarack bogs but an uncommon nester on the Lower Peninsula, this species is easily identified through its sluggish pewee-like song. Much like the Spruce Grouse, the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher nests only on the northern fringe of “lower 48” states; other birders who live who are south of its vast Canadian breeding zone must be hopeful of spotting it in the course of migration … and search for it out on its wintering habitat in the southern part of Mexico as well as Central America. It is also known as the white-throated Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Nashville Warbler, and Black-throated Green Warbler frequently have bogs in common with that the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.

Lincoln’s Sparrow

pictures of winter birds in michigan

pictures of winter birds in Michigan

You can find this species in vast Bogs as well as Jack Pine forests in interior areas of the Northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula. The distinctive House Wren-like tune is the best bet to spot this species. Lincoln’s Sparrow. It is usually found in the trees and requires persistence for it to be seen. If it is visible, novice birders may mistake this species for the larger-spread Song Sparrow. There are a few field marks to be on the lookout for the soft, almost buffy streaks on the chest, the finer streaks, a smaller bill, and a slightly high crown that is grayish on the head.

Kirtland’s Warbler

red breasted bird michigan

reduced-breasted Michigan

It is believed that the Kirtland’s Warbler is Michigan’s most well-known bird. In all of the United States and Canada’s close-to-50 nesting warblers, it is among the most restricted species. Overall 95 percent of the Kirtland’s Warbler population is restricted to large areas with young Jack Pine forests, particularly close to Grayling, Mio, Lewiston as well as Roscommon in the northern-central Lower Peninsula. Its large, loud, and soaring music can dominate the acoustic landscapes of these locations. There are a few scattered across parts of the Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin, and Ontario.

One of the best ways to view the once-endangered species is to go on Kirtland’s Warbler tours offered by the U.S. Forest Service from Mio; Michigan Audubon tours from Hartwick Pines State Park near Grayling as well as AuSable Valley Audubon Society trips from Oscoda. Tours are usually scheduled between June and May, the months when nesting birds appear. Kirtland’s warblers spend the winter throughout the Bahamas.

Hardwood/Deciduous Habitats

mixed northern hardwoods (largely consisting mostly of Sugar Maple, Yellow Birch, Basswood, Northern Red Oak, and a few conifers, including Eastern Hemlock, Eastern White Pine, Balsam Fir, and White Spruce) cover much of Northern Michigan. The hickories, oaks as well as walnuts, and Black Cherry are more common in the lower parts of the state.

Cerulean Warbler

what is the state bird flower and tree of michigan

what is the state bird flower and tree of Michigan?

The species that is rapidly declining is prevalent within large areas of forest, such as Allegan State Game Area, Yankee Springs State Recreation Area, and Waterloo State Recreation Area. Its Cerulean warbler’s melodious song can be heard through the canopy of huge forest areas; however, It is not often seen in the forests. It is also known as the Wood Thrush, Ovenbird, Scarlet Tanager, and other birds are also found in the same forest with them.

Golden-winged Warbler

big white birds in michigan

big white birds in Michigan

In the last few decades,s the warbler with flashy colors has experienced one of the most alarming declines of any songbird that migrates. This Golden-winged warbler is now the most widespread within The Upper Midwest as a breeding species. It is found in Northern Michigan, it occupies the edges of openings in the aspen forest that is young and wetlands that are a mixture of hardwoods, and conifers along with the open patches. It is a wetland species that share habitats with birds like the Alder Flycatcher, Veery, and Mourning Warbler, as well as other species. It also shares upland aspen as a part of The Eastern Towhee, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Indigo Bunting, and other species.

Mourning Warbler

biggest bird in michigan

biggest bird in Michigan

Recently cut forests, with saplings and slash, and alder aspen, alder, and aspen along with Balsam Poplar wetlands are the habitat of this difficult-to-see warbler. Skulking understory, it is most visible at night when males are singing on perches within trees from late May to June. This vibrant yellow and ashy-blackish songbird is common throughout Northern Michigan and readily identified with its “cherry, cherry, cherry, Turi, Turi” song.

Great Lakes Open Water/Coastal/Wetlands Habitats
The Great Lakes’ open waters are covered by everything from wide expanses of sandy beaches and dunes, to cliffs of limestone, sandstone, granite, and marshes that are protected embayments.

Long-tailed Duck

bird disease michigan

bird disease Michigan

Commonly considered to be a species of the ocean typically, the Long-tailed Duck, in swirling groups, can be seen by the Great Lakes shorelines. This magnificent bird can be seen inearbynear piers during the April/May and the October/November migration times, and in Winter on any Great Lake. It is not as common on smaller lakes that are inland.

Red-necked Grebe

bird's eye view benton harbor michigan

bird’s eye view of Benton harbor r Michigan

Numerous Grebes with red necks migrate over Whitefish Point, most notably during August and September. A smaller number of individuals are seen throughout the state during migration, mostly in northerly Great Lakes

Sandhill Crane

birding in michigan

birding in Michigan

From March to October, this magnificent wetland dweller and its throbbing, loud cries are found in the majority of Michigan and can be found in large and small wetlands and uplands adjacent to them, sometimes on interstate highways. A large number of Sandhill Cranes gather at their preferred locations in the fall and spring migration, including on The Haehnle Sanctuary. The bird’s flight with its stiff wings is unique. This majestic bird, which was at one point nearly extinct from Michigan is now well-known to many Michiganders.

Piping Plover

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birds for sale in Michigan craigslist

It is believed that the Piping Plover’s Great Lakes population is listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. There are fewer than 60 couples that breed on Michigan’s sandy beaches most often along Lake Michigan and Lake Superior shorelines as well as along Lake Michigan islands. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore frequently is home to
nesting Piping Plovers, and more recently, Whitefish Point has had an excellent concentration in breeding pairpairsstribution of the breeding piping plovers varies according to fluctuating Great Lakes water levels.

Terns: Caspian/Common/Forster’s/Black

Caspian, as well as Common Terns, typically nest on islands that lie in the northern part of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron including those in Lake Huron, such as those near the Straits of Mackinac and Lime Island in the St. Mary’s River. Common Terns also nest in the Saginaw Bay, at Lake St. Clair and Lake St. Clair, and in the Detroit River regions. Forster’s Terns are most frequent in the marshes of Nayanquing Point State Wildlife Area in Saginaw Bay and Lake St. Clair marshes. Black Terns are most easily located in marshes in the Houghton Lake marshes in northern Lower Michigan, as well as Great Lakes marshes, including those surrounding Lake St. Clair. Caspian, Common, and Black Terns are most widespread in many the inland areas, during migration, and when they leave nesting colonies.

Prairie/Grassland Habitats

Although the majority of Michigan’s indigenous grasslands and savannas were removed or drastically modified, pastures and grasslands that are not native to Michigan now house the majority of animals that live in savannas and grasslands across the state.

Sharp-tailed Grouse

birds in grand rapids michigan

birds in grand rapids Michigan

The species is only present located in The Upper Peninsula, the largest population of this prairie-chicken resemblance is located south of Sault Ste. Marie can be observed fairly consistently throughout the year. In tThenuscong Potholes” area is the ideal spot to view this species with a pointed-tailed, spotted appearance and the Upland Sandpiper Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, and, in certain years the mysterious LeConte’s Sparrow. Other areas that are home to Sharp-tailed Grouse include Seney National Wildlife Refuge and other huge remnant grasslands.

Red-headed Woodpecker

birds in michigan with long beaks

birds in Michigan with long beaks

While not widespread Whhe red-headed woodpecker is abundantly found throughout The Lower Peninsula. It is usually seen in the oak savannas of Allegan State Game Area, close to Muskegon as well as in open oak forests close to Kirtland Warbler sites in the near was City, and at other sites throughout the state as well as open areas to the north of Pellston airport. Migrants are common throughout the state and sometimes even in name areas of the Upper Peninsula.


birds in michigan with red heads

birds in Michigan with redheads


Finding Birding Hotspots

To pinpoint specific sites for any species mentioned above, refer to the eBird website and The Birder’s Handbook to Michigan by Allen Chartier and Jerry Ziarno. These and other regional publications are invaluable in locating other species not included within the post.

Which Threats Do Birds Face in Michigan?

Prive principalreat to Michigan birds is habitat loss as a result of development (and related threats like collisions with structures and predation by a growing number of cats) and conversion to agriculture, the presence of contaminants (pesticides as well as mercury,) and habitat loss due to invading creatures as well as water contamination. Habitat degradation In, turn, it creates habitat fragmentation within adjacent areas. The consequences of this for birds are the loss of crucial species of forb and tretreescreased food sources and nesting areas, less safe as well as fewer fledged youngsters an,d a higher rate of mortality.

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