blue birds in michigan

17 magnificent blue birds in Michigan 

In the enchanting forests and meadows of Michigan, a dazzling spectacle unfolds as a symphony of colors takes flight. Among the myriad avian wonders that grace this picturesque state, the 17 magnificent blue birds in Michigan stand out as a true testament to nature’s artistry. With their vibrant plumage and melodious songs, these magnificent creatures captivate the hearts of birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike. 

From the azure skies to the emerald canopies, let us embark on a journey through Michigan’s wilderness to discover seventeen of the most awe-inspiring blue birds that call this wondrous land home. Prepare to be spellbound by their ethereal beauty and the secrets they unveil as we delve into their world of feathers, flight, and iridescent splendor. So, spread your wings of imagination and join us on this mesmerizing exploration of Michigan’s seventeen magnificent blue birds.

Observing the magnificent blue birds of Michigan is an experience that promises to delight and inspire. To make the most of your birdwatching adventures, here are some best practices and tips to enhance your chances of spotting and enjoying these stunning creatures:

  • Research and Study: Familiarize yourself with the different species of blue birds found in Michigan. Learn about their habitats, behaviors, and preferred feeding grounds. This knowledge will help you identify specific species and understand their habits.
  • Choose the Right Time: Blue birds are most active during the early morning and late afternoon when they are actively foraging for food. Plan your birdwatching outings during these times to increase your chances of spotting them.
  • Seek Suitable Habitats: Blue birds in Michigan are often found in open woodlands, meadows, and near water bodies. Look for areas with a mix of trees, shrubs, and grasslands. These habitats provide both nesting sites and ample food sources.
  • Binoculars and Field Guides: Invest in a good pair of binoculars to get a closer look at the blue birds from a safe distance. Additionally, carry a field guide specific to Michigan’s avian fauna to aid in identification.
  • Dress Appropriately: Wear muted, earth-toned clothing that blends in with the natural surroundings. Bright colors and excessive movement can startle and disturb the birds, making them more difficult to observe.
  • Practice Patience and Silence: Blue birds are sensitive to disturbances. Once you find a spot with bird activity, settle in quietly and avoid sudden movements. Patiently observe their behaviors and interactions, allowing them to grow accustomed to your presence.
  • Listen to their Songs: Blue birds are known for their melodious songs. Take time to listen and learn their distinct calls, as it can assist you in locating them even when they are hidden from view.
  • Create Attractive Environments: Consider setting up blue bird houses or nesting boxes in your own backyard or local parks. These structures provide safe havens for them to nest and raise their young, increasing the likelihood of sightings.
  • Keep Distance and Respect Boundaries: While observing blue birds, maintain a respectful distance to avoid causing stress or disturbance. Respect any posted signs or guidelines that protect the birds and their habitats.
  • Document and Share: Capture the beauty of the blue birds through photography or sketches, but always prioritize their well-being. Share your observations responsibly, promoting awareness and appreciation for these magnificent creatures.

By following these best practices and tips, you can immerse yourself in the wonders of Michigan’s blue birds and create unforgettable memories of their awe-inspiring presence in the natural world.

List of 17 magnificent blue birds in Michigan:

  1. Purple Martin
  2. Northern Parula
  3. Red-Breasted Nuthatch
  4. Rock Pigeon
  5. Bluebirds
  6. Indigo Bunting
  7. Eastern Bluebird
  8. White-Breasted Nuthatch
  9. Common Grackle
  10. Tree Swallow
  11. Cerulean Warbler
  12. Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher
  13. Great Blue heron
  14. Blue Jay
  15. Black-Throated Blue Warbler
  16. Belted Kingfisher
  17. Barn Swallow

1. Purple Martin

purple martin
purple martin

Scientific name: Progne subis.

Size: The size of a purple martin blue bird in Michigan is about 8.5 inches long

How to identify: Adult male purple martins are iridescent dark blue-purple overall with brown-black wings and tail. Females and immatures are duller, with variable amounts of gray on the head and chest and a whitish lower belly. Purple martins have broad chests, tapered wings, and forked tails.

Habitat: Purple martins are cavity nesters that prefer open areas near water, such as marshes, meadows, and fields. They will also nest in colonies in man-made structures, such as birdhouses. In Michigan, they can be found in a variety of habitats, including:

  • Lakes and ponds: Purple martins are attracted to areas with abundant flying insects, such as mosquitoes, flies, and beetles. They will often nest near lakes and ponds, where they can find these insects in abundance.
  • Rivers and streams: Purple martins will also nest near rivers and streams, as these areas also provide a good source of food.
  • Golf courses: Golf courses are another good habitat for purple martins, as they provide open areas with plenty of insects.
  • Parks and open areas: Purple martins can also be found in parks and other open areas, as long as there is a good source of food nearby.

Diet: Purple martins are insectivores, and they eat a variety of insects, including mosquitoes, flies, and beetles. They are an important part of the ecosystem, as they help to control insect populations.

Lifespan: The average lifespan of a purple martin in Michigan is 13.75 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of a purple martin blue bird in Michigan is typically 16 inches.

Calls: Purple martins make a variety of calls, including:

  • Throaty chirps: These are the most common calls of purple martins. They are used for communication between birds, and they can also be used to attract mates.
  • Rattle calls: These calls are made by males during courtship. They are a series of rapid, clicking sounds that are used to attract females.
  • Zweck calls: These calls are made by both males and females. They are a short, sharp call that is used to communicate alarm or danger.
  • Chortle calls: These calls are made by females. They are a series of soft, gurgling sounds that are used to communicate with their young.

Seasons: Here is a more detailed breakdown of the seasons of the purple martin in Michigan:

  • Spring: Purple martins start arriving in Michigan in late April or early May. They will typically arrive in small groups at first, and then the numbers will increase as the spring progresses. The males will start to arrive first, and they will start to establish their territories. The females will arrive a few weeks later, and they will start to choose mates.
  • Summer: The breeding season for purple martins is in the summer. They will typically have two broods per season, and each brood will have 3-6 eggs. The eggs will hatch after about 16 days, and the young birds will fledge after about 21 days.
  • Fall: The fall migration for purple martins starts in late August or early September. They will typically start to leave in small groups at first, and then the numbers will increase as the fall progresses. The males will typically leave first, and the females will leave a few weeks later.
  • Winter: Purple martins spend the winter in South America. They typically winter in the Amazon rainforest, but they have also been known to winter in other parts of South America, such as Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.

2. Northern Parula

northern parula
northern parula

Scientific name: Setophaga americana

Size: The Northern Parula is a small bird, measuring about 4.3 to 4.7 inches (11.4 to 12 cm) in length and weighing about 0.2 to 0.4 ounces (5.7 to 11.3 grams).

How to identify: The male Northern Parula is blue-gray on the back and head, with a yellow throat and breast. The female is more greenish-yellow overall, with a white throat and breast. The Northern Parula has a distinctive pattern of blue-gray, yellow, and white. The male has a blue-gray back with a yellow-green patch in the center. The female has a greenish-yellow back with a white throat and breast. The Northern Parula has white eye crescents and two white wing bars.

Habitat: The Northern Parula is a small, warbler-like bird that is found in a variety of habitats in Michigan, including:

  • Forests: Northern Parulas are most common in mature forests, especially those with a dense understory of shrubs and vines. They are also found in younger forests, but they are less common in these habitats.
  • Woodlands: Northern Parulas can also be found in woodlands, especially those with a mix of deciduous and evergreen trees. They are less common in open woodlands, such as those found in the prairies.
  • Gardens: Northern Parulas are sometimes seen in gardens, especially those with a variety of trees and shrubs. They are more likely to be found in gardens that are located near forests or woodlands.
  • Swamps: Northern Parulas are also found in swamps, especially those with a dense understory of shrubs and vines. They are less common in open swamps, such as those found in the Everglades.

Diet: The Northern Parula is a small songbird that is found in North America. It is a resident of Michigan, and its diet consists primarily of insects. The Northern Parula’s diet includes:

  • Small beetles
  • Flies
  • Moths
  • Caterpillars
  • Egg clusters
  • True bugs
  • Ants
  • Bees
  • Wasps
  • Spiders
  • Some small berries

Lifespan: The lifespan of a Northern Parula blue bird in Michigan is typically 4-5 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of a Northern Parula blue bird in Michigan is typically 6.3 to 7.1 inches (16 to 18 cm).

Calls: The Northern Parula has a distinctive buzzing trill song that is often described as sounding like a “motorboat.” The song is made up of a series of short, high-pitched notes that are repeated rapidly. The Northern Parula also makes a variety of other calls, including a sharp “chip” call and a soft “seep” call.

Seasons: The Northern Parula is a migratory bird that breeds in Michigan during the spring and summer. They arrive in Michigan in late April or early May, and they typically leave in September or October.

3. Red-Breasted Nuthatch

red breasted nuthatch
red breasted nuthatch

Scientific name: Sitta canadensis carolinensis.

Size: The Red-breasted Nuthatch bluebird in Michigan is about 4.5 inches long,

How to identify:  The Red-breasted Nuthatch bluebird has a blue-gray back, a white head with black stripes running over either eye, and an orange-cinnamon-colored breast. It has a pointy pick-like beak.

Habitat: Here are some of the specific habitats where you can find Red-breasted Nuthatches in Michigan:

  • Coniferous forests: These forests are the most preferred habitat for Red-breasted Nuthatches. They are especially common in forests with spruce, fir, and pine trees.
  • Mixed forests: Red-breasted Nuthatches can also be found in mixed forests, which are forests that have a mix of coniferous and deciduous trees.
  • Deciduous forests: Red-breasted Nuthatches are less common in deciduous forests, but they can be found in some areas, especially in the fall and winter when the coniferous trees are losing their leaves.
  • Parks and gardens: Red-breasted Nuthatches are also common in parks and gardens, especially those with evergreen trees.

Diet: The Red-breasted Nuthatch bluebird in Michigan is an insectivore, which means that it eats insects. However, it also eats other small animals, such as spiders, snails, and seeds.

Lifespan: The lifespan of a Red-breasted Nuthatch bluebird in Michigan is typically 3-5 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of a Red-breasted Nuthatch bluebird in Michigan is typically 8.5 inches.

Calls: The Red-breasted Nuthatch bluebird in Michigan has a variety of calls, including:

  • Yank: This is a common call that is used to communicate with other nuthatches. It is a short, nasal sound that is often repeated.
  • Whinny: This is a more aggressive call that is used to defend territory or to attract mates. It is a high-pitched, whinnying sound.
  • Tink: This is a call that is used to locate food. It is a short, metallic sound that is often repeated.
  • Chirp: This is a call that is used to communicate with young birds. It is a high-pitched, chirping sound.

Seasons: Here is a detailed breakdown of the Red-breasted Nuthatch bluebird’s seasons in Michigan:

  • Winter: Red-breasted Nuthatches are more common in the winter in Michigan. They can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, parks, and gardens.
  • Spring: Red-breasted Nuthatches begin to breed in the spring. They prefer to nest in cavities in trees, but they will also use nest boxes.
  • Summer: Red-breasted Nuthatches raise their young in the summer. The female lays 5-7 eggs, which hatch after about 12 days. The young birds fledge after about 16 days.
  • Fall: Red-breasted Nuthatches begin to migrate south in the fall. They typically leave Michigan by late October or early November.

4. Rock Pigeon

rock pigeon
rock pigeon

Scientific name: Columba livia.

Size: The size of a Rock Pigeon blue bird in Michigan is about 12-14 inches in length.

How to identify: The plumage of Rock Pigeons can vary, but they are typically grayish-blue with two black bars on each wing. The head and neck of Rock Pigeons are iridescent, with a bluish-green sheen. Rock Pigeons have a plump body with a short neck and a small head. Their wings are long and pointed.

Habitat: Rock Pigeon blue birds are found in a variety of habitats in Michigan, including:

  • Urban areas: Rock Pigeon blue birds are often seen in cities and towns, where they can find food and shelter in abundance. They are often seen nesting on buildings, bridges, and other man-made structures.
  • Suburban areas: Rock Pigeon blue birds are also common in suburban areas, where they can find food in gardens and parks. They often nest in trees and shrubs in these areas.
  • Rural areas: Rock Pigeon blue birds can also be found in rural areas, where they can find food in fields and farms. They often nest in trees and cliffs in these areas.

Diet: Rock Pigeon blue birds are omnivorous and eat a variety of foods, including:

  • Seeds: Rock Pigeons are granivorous and will eat a variety of seeds, including corn, wheat, barley, and oats. They will also eat seeds from fruits and vegetables, such as berries, apples, and corn on the cob.
  • Insects: Rock Pigeons will also eat insects, such as beetles, ants, and flies. They will often eat insects that are found on the ground, but they will also eat insects that are found in trees and shrubs.
  • Fruits: Rock Pigeons will also eat fruits, such as cherries, grapes, and figs. They will often eat fruits that have fallen to the ground, but they will also eat fruits that are still on the vine.
  • Vegetables: Rock Pigeons will also eat vegetables, such as lettuce, peas, and corn. They will often eat vegetables that have been discarded by humans, but they will also eat vegetables that are growing in gardens.

Lifespan: The lifespan of a Rock Pigeon blue bird in Michigan is typically 3-5 years in the wild. 

Wingspan: The wingspan of a Rock Pigeon blue bird in Michigan is typically 19.7-26.4 inches (50-67 cm).

Calls: Rock Pigeon blue birds have a variety of calls, including:

  • Coo: The coo is the most common call of the Rock Pigeon blue bird. It is a soft, low-pitched sound that is often used to communicate with other Rock Pigeons blue birds.
  • Purr: The purr is a soft, rumbling sound that is often used by Rock Pigeon blue birds to express contentment or happiness.
  • Chirrup: The chirp is a short, high-pitched sound that is often used by Rock Pigeon blue birds to communicate with their young.
  • Screech: The screech is a loud, shrill sound that is often used by Rock Pigeon blue birds to express fear or alarm.

Seasons: 

  • In the spring, Rock Pigeon blue birds start to breed. They build nests in trees, cliffs, or buildings, and they lay two eggs. The eggs hatch after about 17-19 days, and the young birds fledge after about 25-32 days.
  • In the summer, Rock Pigeon blue birds are more active. They spend more time feeding and raising their young. They also molt their feathers during the summer, which is when they get their new, bright blue plumage.
  • In the fall, Rock Pigeon blue birds start to gather in flocks. They do this to prepare for the winter, when they will need to conserve energy. They also start to eat more food in the fall, so that they can build up their fat reserves for the winter.
  • In the winter, Rock Pigeon blue birds are less active. They spend more time roosting in trees or buildings. They also eat less food in the winter, because they do not need as much energy to stay warm.

5. Bluebirds

bluebird
bluebird

Scientific name: Sialia sialis.

Size: They are about 6.5 to 7 inches long. 

How to identify:  Male bluebirds have a bright blue back, forehead, crown, shoulders, wings, and tail. Their breast is reddish-orange, and their belly is white. Females are similar in appearance to males, but they are slightly duller in color and have a brown wash on their breast.

Habitat: Bluebirds in Michigan prefer open areas with scattered trees, such as meadows, fields, and orchards. They also like areas with low undergrowth and open ground, so they can easily spot and catch insects. Bluebirds will sometimes nest in areas with more trees, but they prefer to have open areas nearby where they can forage for food.

Diet: They eat insects, seeds, and berries.

Lifespan: on average, bluebirds can live for 6 to 10 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of a bluebird in Michigan is typically 25 to 32 centimeters (9.8 to 12.6 inches).

Calls: 

  • Cheer-cheer-cheer: This is the most common call of the bluebird. It is a short, high-pitched call that is used for communication between birds.
  • Tu-a-wee: This is a soft, low-pitched call that is used to attract mates or to signal nestlings that adults are bringing food.
  • Screech: This is a harsh call that is used to warn other birds of danger.
  • Chipping: This is a rapid, high-pitched call that is used to communicate with nestlings

Seasons: Bluebirds arrive in Michigan a little earlier, in late March or early April. They stay until late October or early November. 

6. Indigo Bunting

indigo bunting
indigo bunting

Scientific name: Passerina cyanea.

Size: The indigo bunting is a smallish songbird, around the size of a small sparrow. It measures 11.5–15 cm (4.5–5.9 in) long. 

How to identify: Only the head is indigo. The wings and tail are black with cerulean blue edges. In fall and winter plumage, the male has brown edges to the blue body and head feathers, which overlap to make the bird appear mostly brown.

Habitat: Indigo buntings are found in open habitats, such as meadows, fields, and forest edges. They are often seen flitting around in the undergrowth, looking for insects.

In Michigan, indigo buntings can be found in a variety of habitats, including:

  • Meadows: Indigo buntings are often seen in meadows, where they can find plenty of insects to eat.
  • Fields: Indigo buntings can also be found in fields, especially fields that are overgrown with weeds and shrubs.
  • Forest edges: Indigo buntings are attracted to forest edges, where they can find a mix of open space and trees.
  • Roadsides: Indigo buntings are sometimes seen along roadsides, where they can find insects that have been attracted to the roadkill.

Diet: Here is a more detailed breakdown of the indigo bunting’s diet:

  • Insects: Insects are the most important food source for indigo buntings during the breeding season. They eat a variety of insects, including caterpillars, grasshoppers, spiders, and beetles. Insects are a good source of protein, which is essential for breeding birds.
  • Seeds: Indigo buntings eat a variety of seeds, including millet, sunflower seeds, thistle seeds, and nyjer seeds. Seeds are a good source of energy, which is important for birds during migration and the winter.
  • Berries: Indigo buntings will eat berries, such as blackberries and raspberries, when they are available. Berries are a good source of vitamins and minerals.

Lifespan: The average lifespan of an indigo bunting is 2-3 years. 

Wingspan: The wingspan of an indigo bunting in Michigan is typically 18-23 cm (7.1-9.1 in).

Calls: The male’s song is a bright, lively series of sharp, clear, high-pitched notes that lasts about 2 seconds. It is often described as sounding like “sweet, sweet, chew, chew, see-it, see-it.” The female’s song is a less complex series of notes, but it is still quite distinctive.

The Indigo Bunting also gives a few different calls. The most common call is a short, sharp “spit” or “chip.” This call is often used as a contact call between birds, or as a warning call when a predator is nearby. The Indigo Bunting also gives a soft “churr” call, which is often used when the bird is feeding or courting.

Seasons: Indigo buntings typically arrive in Michigan in late April or early May and stay until late September or early October. 

7. Eastern Bluebird

eastern bluebird
eastern bluebird

Scientific name: Sialia sialis

Size: The size of an eastern bluebird in Michigan is typically 16-21 centimeters (6.3-8.3 inches) long. 

How to identify

  • Males are bright blue on the back, head, and wings, with a rusty or brick-red breast. The blue on their back is often iridescent, and can appear to change color depending on the light. The rusty or brick-red on their breast is often more intense near the throat. 
  • Females are grayer on the head and back, with some blue on their wings and tail. Their breast is usually lighter in color than in males, and is more orange. They also have a white eye ring that is not as prominent as in males.

Habitat: 

Open country areas with scattered trees: This includes farms, meadows, and forest clearings. Eastern bluebirds prefer areas with some open space for hunting insects, but also with enough trees to provide nesting cavities and shelter from predators.

Diet: Eastern bluebirds in Michigan have a diet that consists mostly of insects and berries. In the summer, their diet is about 68% insects, including beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and other insects. They also eat spiders, earthworms, snails, and occasionally small lizards or tree frogs. In the fall and winter, when insects are less common, their diet shifts to berries, including blackberries, honeysuckle, dogwood, red cedar, and wild grapes. 

Lifespan: Eastern bluebirds in Michigan can live for up to 6 to 10 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of an Eastern bluebird in Michigan is typically between 9.8 and 12.6 inches (25 and 32 centimeters).

Calls: The Eastern bluebird in Michigan has two main calls: a soft, low-pitched tu-a-wee and a harsher screech. The tu-a-wee is used to keep in touch with each other or to signal nestlings that adults are bringing food. The screech is used as a warning call when bluebirds get too close to each other or when they are alarmed by a predator.

In addition to these two main calls, Eastern bluebirds also make a variety of other sounds, including:

  • Chip: This is a soft, high-pitched call that is often given by females when a courting male approaches.
  • Chit-chit-chit: This is a loud, continual call that is given by birds when they are nervous or alarmed.

Seasons: Eastern bluebirds in Michigan have a two-season cycle: breeding and migration.

  • Breeding season: The breeding season for Eastern bluebirds in Michigan typically begins in late March or early April and lasts until late August or early September. During this time, they will build nests and raise their young.
  • Migration: Eastern bluebirds are migratory birds, which means they travel long distances between their breeding and wintering grounds. In Michigan, they typically arrive in the state in late March or early April and leave in late August or early September. 

8. White-Breasted Nuthatch

white breasted nuthatch
white breasted nuthatch

Scientific name: Sitta carolinensis.

Size: The White-Breasted Nuthatch is a small songbird that measures 5.1-5.5 inches in length

How to identify: The White-Breasted Nuthatch has a blue-gray back, a white face and underparts, and a black cap. The Eastern Bluebird has a blue back, a white breast, and a rusty-red breast band.

Habitat: The White-Breasted Nuthatch is found in a variety of habitats, including deciduous forests, woodlots, and parks. The Eastern Bluebird prefers open areas, such as meadows, fields, and orchards.

Diet: he White-Breasted Nuthatch is an insectivore, meaning that it eats insects. Its diet consists mainly of beetles, caterpillars, ants, and spiders. It also eats some seeds and nuts, such as acorns, hawthorns, and sunflower seeds.

  • In the summer, White-Breasted Nuthatches eat mostly insects. They will often hang upside down from tree trunks and branches, headfirst, as they search for insects under the bark. They will also forage on the ground, hopping around rather than walking.
  • In the winter, when insects are scarce, White-Breasted Nuthatches will eat more seeds and nuts. They will also eat suet from bird feeders.

Lifespan: The lifespan of a White-Breasted Nuthatch in Michigan is typically 4-6 years. 

Wingspan: The wingspan of a White-Breasted Nuthatch in Michigan is typically 7.9-10.6 inches.

Calls: The White-Breasted Nuthatch has a variety of calls, including:

  • Yanker: This is the most common call of the White-Breasted Nuthatch. It is a loud, nasal sound that is often repeated a few times in a row.
  • Whinny: This is a softer call that is often used in courtship and when the birds are alarmed.
  • Song: The song of the White-Breasted Nuthatch is a rapid series of high-pitched notes that is often compared to the sound of a toy tin horn.

Seasons: White-breasted nuthatches are permanent residents in Michigan, meaning they stay in the state year-round. They can be seen in all seasons, but they are most common during the breeding season, which is from late March to early June.

9. Common Grackle

common grackle
common grackle

Scientific name: Quiscalus quiscula.

Size: The Common Grackle is a larger bird than the Eastern Bluebird. Common Grackles are about 11 to 13 inches long. 

How to identify: Common Grackles are black with a purple sheen on their heads and iridescent bronze bodies. Eastern Bluebirds are bright blue on top and white on the bottom, with a rusty patch on their chests. The beak of a Common Grackle is yellow, while the beak of an Eastern Bluebird is blue.

Habitat: Common Grackles are found in a variety of habitats, including open fields, forests, and urban areas. Eastern Bluebirds prefer open areas with trees, such as fields, meadows, and parks.

Diet: Common Grackles are omnivorous, and their diet includes a wide variety of foods, such as insects, seeds, fruit, garbage, and even small animals. They are often seen foraging in fields, gardens, and parking lots.

Lifespan: The lifespan of a Common Grackle in Michigan is typically 10 to 15 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of a Common Grackle in Michigan is typically 14 to 18 inches.

Calls: Common Grackles have a loud, raucous call that is often described as a “caw” or “grackle.” They also make a variety of other sounds, including clicks, whirs, and gurgles. 

Seasons: 

  • Spring: Grackles arrive in Michigan in the spring, typically in late March or early April. They are attracted to open areas with scattered trees, such as fields, meadows, and parks.
  • Summer: Grackles breed in Michigan during the summer. They build their nests in cavities, such as holes in trees or buildings.
  • Fall: Grackles migrate south in the fall, typically in October or November. They winter in the southern United States and Mexico.

10. Tree Swallow

tree swallow
tree swallow

Scientific name: Tachycineta bicolor

Size: The size of a Tree Swallow bluebird in Michigan is about 12-14 centimeters (4.7-5.5 inches) long. 

How to identify: They have a long, slender body, a short tail, and a pointed wing. Adult male Tree Swallows are blue-green on the upperparts and white on the underparts. They have a black mask around their eyes and a small white crescent on the sides of their rump. Female Tree Swallows are duller in color, with more brown on their upperparts.

Habitat:  Tree Swallows are found in open areas near water, such as marshes, meadows, and agricultural fields. They will also nest in cavities, such as nest boxes or holes in trees.

Diet: Tree Swallows are insectivores, and their diet consists mostly of flying insects, including mosquitoes, flies, beetles, ants, and dragonflies. They will also eat spiders and other small invertebrates. In the fall, they will supplement their diet with berries, such as bayberries, sumac, and poison ivy. 

Lifespan: The lifespan of a Tree Swallow bluebird in Michigan is typically 3-5 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of a Tree Swallow bluebird in Michigan is typically 30-35 centimeters (12-14 inches).

Calls: Tree Swallows have a variety of calls, including:

  • .Song: The song of a Tree Swallow is a series of high-pitched twitters and whistles. It is often described as sounding like “sweet, high-pitched chatter.
  • Call: The call of a Tree Swallow is a short, sharp “chip.” It is often used to communicate with other Tree Swallows, such as to attract mates or to warn of danger. 
  • Alarm call: The alarm call of a Tree Swallow is a loud, shrill “seet.” It is used to warn other Tree Swallows of danger, such as the presence of a predator. 

Seasons:

Tree Swallows are migratory birds, and they spend their summers in Michigan and their winters in Central and South America. They typically arrive in Michigan in late March or early April, and they leave in late September or early October.

11. Cerulean Warbler

cerulean warbler
cerulean warbler

Scientific name: Setophaga cerulea

Size: The Cerulean Warbler is a small bird, measuring only about 4.3 inches long

How to identify: The male Cerulean Warbler is a bright sky blue with a white belly and black streaks on its back. The female is a more greenish-blue color with yellow underparts.

Habitat:  Cerulean Warblers are found in deciduous forests, especially those with tall trees and open understories.

Diet: The Cerulean Warbler is an insectivore, and its diet consists of mostly small insects, such as flies, wasps, and beetles. They will also eat spiders, caterpillars, and other invertebrates.

Lifespan: The lifespan of a Cerulean Warbler in Michigan is typically 2 to 4 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of a Cerulean Warbler in Michigan is typically 7.9 inches.

Calls: The Cerulean Warbler has a distinctive call that is often described as a “zeet” or a “chip.” This call is often given by both males and females, and it is used to keep in touch with each other. The Cerulean Warbler also has a song that is a series of high-pitched, warbling notes. This song is typically given by males, and it is used to attract mates.

Seasons: The Cerulean Warbler is a migratory bird, and it spends its summers breeding in Michigan and its winters in South America. In Michigan, they typically arrive in late April or early May and depart in early August.

12. Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

blue-gray-gnatcatcher
blue-gray-gnatcatcher

Scientific name: Polioptila caerulea

Size: The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is a small bird, measuring 4.25-5 inches in length

How to identify: The male is blue-gray above and white below, with a black tail. The female is similar, but is slightly duller in color. The tail is long and thin, with white outer feathers.

Habitat: The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is a small songbird that is found in deciduous forests and thickets in the eastern United States and Canada. In Michigan, it can be found in the northern part of the state. The bird winters in Mexico and Central America.

Diet: The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is an insectivore, which means that it eats insects. Its diet consists mainly of small insects, such as gnats, mosquitoes, and flies. It also eats spiders and other small invertebrates.

Lifespan: The lifespan of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in Michigan is typically 2-3 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in Michigan is typically 6.3 inches.

Calls:
The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher has a variety of calls, including:

  • Song: The song of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is a thin, warbling trill that is often described as “seep” or “sweep”. The song is repeated over and over again, and it can be heard throughout the breeding season.
  • Call: The call of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is a sharp “tseep” or “tsip”. The call is often given when the bird is alarmed or when it is calling to its mate.
  • Alarm call: The alarm call of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is a sharp “seet” or “tseet”. The call is often given when the bird is threatened or when it sees a predator.

Seasons: The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is a migratory bird that breeds in Michigan during the spring and summer. They typically arrive in Michigan in April or May and leave in September or October. The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher winters in Mexico and Central America.

13. Great Blue heron

great blue heron
great blue heron

Scientific name: Ardea herodias

Size: 38-53 inches (97-137 cm) in length. 

How to identify: The Great Blue Heron has a long neck, long legs, and a large bill.

  • Habitat: Wetlands: Great Blue Herons are found in a variety of wetland habitats, including lakes, rivers, ponds, marshes, and swamps. They are also occasionally seen in fields and wet meadows.
  • Forests: Great Blue Herons will also nest in forests, especially near water. They will often build their nests in trees, but they have also been known to nest on the ground or in man-made structures.

Diet: The Great Blue Heron is an opportunistic feeder, and its diet varies depending on the season and location. However, its diet typically includes fish, frogs, small mammals, reptiles, and birds.

  • Fish: Fish are the most common prey item for Great Blue Herons. They will often stand in shallow water and wait for fish to swim by, or they will wade into deeper water and spear fish with their long beaks.
  • Frogs: Frogs are another common prey item for Great Blue Herons. They will often catch frogs by sight, or they will listen for the sound of frogs croaking.
  • Small mammals: Small mammals, such as mice, rats, and voles, are also eaten by Great Blue Herons. They will often catch small mammals by sight, or they will listen for the sound of small mammals moving around.
  • Reptiles: Reptiles, such as snakes, turtles, and lizards, are also eaten by Great Blue Herons. They will often catch reptiles by sight, or they will listen for the sound of reptiles moving around.
  • Birds: Birds, such as small songbirds and ducks, are also eaten by Great Blue Herons. They will often catch birds by sight, or they will listen for the sound of birds chirping.

Lifespan: The average lifespan of a Great Blue Heron is 15-20 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of a Great Blue Heron can range from 65 to 79 inches (167-201 cm).

Calls: The Great Blue Heron has a variety of calls, but the most common is a deep, croaking sound that is often described as a “fraaank.” This call is often used to defend territory or to attract mates.

Other calls of the Great Blue Heron include:

  • Scream: A loud, high-pitched call that is often used as an alarm call.
  • Squawk: A short, harsh call that is often used when the bird is agitated.
  • Purr: A low, rumbling sound that is often used when the bird is feeding.

Seasons: 

  • Spring: Great Blue Herons arrive in Michigan in the spring, typically in March or April. They build their nests in trees or other tall structures, and they lay 3-5 eggs. The eggs hatch in about 28 days, and the young birds fledge in about 50 days.
  • Summer: Great Blue Herons are most active during the summer, when they are raising their young. They feed on a variety of prey items, including fish, frogs, small mammals, and reptiles.
  • Fall: Great Blue Herons begin to migrate south in the fall, typically in September or October. They winter in the southern United States and Mexico.
  • Winter: Great Blue Herons are not common in Michigan during the winter, but some individuals may stay in the state if the weather is mild.

14. Blue Jay

blue jay
blue jay

Scientific name: Cyanocitta cristata

Size: 22-30 cm (9-12 in) from bill to tail. 

How to identify: Blue jays are brightly colored, with a blue back, white belly, and black and white markings on their wings.

Habitat: Blue jays are most commonly found in forests, but they can also be found in fields, backyards, and even urban areas. They prefer habitats with a mix of open areas and trees, as this gives them a variety of food sources and nesting options.

Diet: Blue jays are omnivores, and their diet includes insects, nuts, seeds, fruits, berries, and even small animals like mice and baby birds. They are known for their intelligence, and they are able to remember the locations of food sources. They are also good at caching food for later.

Lifespan: The lifespan of blue jays and eastern bluebirds in Michigan can vary, but they typically live for 5-7 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of a blue jay in Michigan is typically 34-43 cm (13-17 in).

Calls: Blue jays are known for their loud, raucous calls. They have a variety of calls, including:

  • Jeer: This is a common call that is used to communicate with other blue jays. It sounds like a loud, sharp “jeer.”
  • Whinny: This is a call that is used to attract mates. It sounds like a high-pitched whinny.
  • Squawk: This is a call that is used to express alarm or excitement. It sounds like a loud, harsh squawk.

Seasons: Blue jays breed in Michigan from March to July. They build their nests in trees, and they typically lay 3-7 eggs. The eggs hatch after about 16 days, and the young birds fledge after about 18 days.

15. Black-Throated Blue Warbler

black throated blue warbler
black throated blue warbler

Scientific name: Setophaga caerulescens

Size: The Black-throated Blue Warbler is a small bird, measuring about 13 cm (5.1 in) in length.

How to identify: The male Black-throated Blue Warbler has a deep blue head and back, a black face and throat, and white underparts. The female is olive-brown above and light yellow below, with a white square on the wings.

Habitat: The Black-throated Blue Warbler is found in the interior of deciduous and mixed coniferous forests in eastern North America, including Michigan. Look for it in shrubby undergrowth, especially in areas with rhododendrons or other dense vegetation.

Here are some of the specific habitats where you can find Black-throated Blue Warblers in Michigan:

  • State parks: Many state parks in Michigan have the right mix of forests and undergrowth to attract Black-throated Blue Warblers. Some good examples include Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and Mackinac Island State Park.
  • National forests: The Black-throated Blue Warbler is also found in several national forests in Michigan, including the Huron-Manistee National Forest, the Ottawa National Forest, and the Hiawatha National Forest.
  • Nature preserves: There are many nature preserves in Michigan that provide habitat for Black-throated Blue Warblers. Some good examples include the Hemlock Hills Nature Preserve, the Sylvania Wilderness, and the Pigeon River Country State Forest.

Diet: The Black-throated Blue Warbler is an insectivore, and its diet consists of flies, beetles, caterpillars, and other small insects.

Here are some of the specific insects that the Black-throated Blue Warbler eats:

  • Caterpillars: Caterpillars are a major food source for Black-throated Blue Warblers. They eat a variety of caterpillars, including those of moths, butterflies, and sawflies.
  • Moths: Moths are another important food source for Black-throated Blue Warblers. They eat a variety of moths, including those of the family Noctuidae.
  • Crane flies: Crane flies are large, long-legged insects that are often found in forests. Black-throated Blue Warblers eat the larvae of crane flies, which are small, worm-like creatures.
  • Spiders: Spiders are another important food source for Black-throated Blue Warblers. They eat a variety of spiders, including those of the family Araneidae.

Lifespan: The lifespan of a Black-throated Blue Warbler in Michigan is typically 5-7 years. 

Wingspan: The wingspan of a Black-throated Blue Warbler in Michigan is typically 7.5-7.9 inches (19-20 cm).

Calls: The Black-throated Blue Warbler is a small songbird that is known for its distinctive call. The male Black-throated Blue Warbler has a lazy, buzzy song that is often described as sounding like “I’m so lazzzzy.” The female’s call is a sharp “tsip” or “tseep.”

Seasons: The Black-throated Blue Warbler is a migratory bird that breeds in the eastern United States and Canada, and winters in the Caribbean. In Michigan, they can be seen during their spring and fall migrations, as well as during the breeding season.

  • Spring migration: Black-throated Blue Warblers typically arrive in Michigan in late April or early May. They can be seen in a variety of habitats, including forests, woodlands, and even backyards. The males will start singing their distinctive “I’m so laaazzzzy” song during this time.
  • Breeding season: The breeding season for Black-throated Blue Warblers runs from late May to July or August. During this time, the males will establish territories and attract mates. The females will build nests in shrubs or low trees, and lay 4-5 eggs. The eggs hatch after about 12 days, and the young birds fledge after about 14 days.
  • Fall migration: Black-throated Blue Warblers begin their fall migration in August or September. They will leave Michigan and head south to their wintering grounds in the Caribbean.

16. Belted Kingfisher

belted kingfisher
belted kingfisher

Scientific name: Megaceryle alcyon

Size: The Belted Kingfisher is a large bird, measuring 11 to 14 inches in length

How to identify: The Belted Kingfisher has a blue back and head, a white chest, and a black-and-white striped belly. The Eastern Bluebird has a blue back and breast, a white belly, and a rusty patch on its chest.

Habitat: The Belted Kingfisher is found near water, such as streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds.

Diet: The Belted Kingfisher is a fish-eating bird. It typically preys on small fish, such as minnows, sticklebacks, and darters. It will also eat frogs, crayfish, and small mammals. The Belted Kingfisher is a good swimmer, and it can dive underwater to catch its prey.

Lifespan: The lifespan of a Belted Kingfisher in Michigan is typically 5 to 10 years. 

Wingspan: The wingspan of a Belted Kingfisher in Michigan is typically 19 to 33 inches.

Calls: The Belted Kingfisher has a loud, rattling call that sounds like “kek-kek-kek-kek.” This call is often given when the bird is perched on a branch or a rock overlooking the water. The Belted Kingfisher also has a soft, whinnying call that is used to communicate with its mate.

Seasons: The Belted Kingfisher breeds from March to September in Michigan. It is a resident bird in the state, but some individuals may migrate south in the winter.

17. Barn Swallow

barn swallow
barn swallow

Scientific name: Hirundo rustica

Size: The Barn Swallow is slightly smaller than a bluebird. It measures 17-19 cm (6.7-7.5 in) in length

How to identify: he male Barn Swallow is glossy blue-black on the upperparts, with a chestnut forehead and throat, and rust-orange underparts. The female is similar, but has a paler blue-black back and a buffy or pale rusty breast. Both sexes have a long, deeply forked tail.

Habitat: Barn Swallows are found in open areas, such as fields, meadows, and marshes. They are also attracted to human-made structures, such as barns, bridges, and houses. Here are some of the places where you can find Barn Swallows in Michigan:

  • Barns: Barns are a classic nesting site for Barn Swallows. They will often build their nests under the eaves of barns, or in other sheltered spots within the barn.
  • Bridges: Bridges are another popular nesting site for Barn Swallows. They are attracted to the open space under bridges, and the fact that bridges are often located near water, which is a source of food for the swallows.
  • Houses: Barn Swallows will sometimes nest on houses, especially if the house has eaves or other sheltered spots where they can build their nests.

Diet:
Barn Swallows are insectivores, and they eat a variety of insects, including flies, mosquitoes, beetles, and dragonflies. They are an important part of the ecosystem, as they help to control insect populations.

Here are some of the specific insects that Barn Swallows eat in Michigan:

  • House flies: House flies are a common insect in Michigan, and they are a major food source for Barn Swallows.
  • Mosquitoes: Mosquitoes are also a common insect in Michigan, and they are a major nuisance for people. However, they are also a valuable food source for Barn Swallows.
  • Beetles: Beetles are a diverse group of insects, and there are many different species that are eaten by Barn Swallows.
  • Dragonflies: Dragonflies are large, fast-flying insects, and they are a challenging prey item for Barn Swallows. However, they are also a valuable food source, as they are high in protein.

Lifespan: The lifespan of a Barn Swallow in Michigan is typically 3-4 years. 

Wingspan: The wingspan of a Barn Swallow in Michigan is typically 32-34.5 cm (12.6-13.6 in).

Calls:
Barn Swallows make a variety of calls, including:

  • Cheep: This is a short, high-pitched call that is used for communication between mates and young.
  • Chweet: This is a longer, more drawn-out call that is used for alarm or excitement.
  • Whirr: This is a mechanical-sounding call that is made during courtship and nest building.
  • Plink: This is a sharp, clicking call that is made by young birds when they are begging for food.

Seasons: Barn Swallows are migratory birds, and they spend the winter in South America. In Michigan, they can be found throughout the state during the breeding season, which is from late spring to early fall. They typically arrive in Michigan in April or May, and they leave in September or October.

Here is a more detailed breakdown of the seasons of Barn Swallows in Michigan:

  • Spring: Barn Swallows arrive in Michigan in April or May. They typically build their nests under eaves or in other sheltered spots, and they often nest in colonies. They lay 4-6 eggs, and the eggs hatch in about 14 days. The young birds fledge in about 21 days.
  • Summer: Barn Swallows spend the summer in Michigan, raising their young and feeding on insects. They are most active during the day, and they can often be seen flying high in the air or swooping down to catch insects.
  • Fall: Barn Swallows leave Michigan in September or October. They migrate to South America, where they spend the winter.

Frequently asked question:  blue birds in Michigan 

Q: What are some of the magnificent blue birds that can be found in Michigan?

A: Michigan is home to a variety of stunning blue birds. Some of the notable species include the Eastern Bluebird, Mountain Bluebird, Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Blue Jay, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Cerulean Warbler, and the Lazuli Bunting, among others.

Q: Where can I find these blue birds in Michigan?

A: Blue birds can be found in various habitats across Michigan, including open woodlands, meadows, and near water bodies. Look for areas with a mix of trees, shrubs, and grasslands, as these provide suitable nesting and feeding grounds.

Q: When is the best time to observe blue birds in Michigan?

A: Blue birds are most active during the early morning and late afternoon when they are actively foraging for food. These times of day offer the best opportunities to spot and observe them.

Q: What should I bring with me for blue bird watching in Michigan?

A: It’s recommended to bring binoculars for a closer look at the birds, a field guide specific to Michigan’s avian fauna for identification purposes, comfortable walking shoes, appropriate clothing for the weather, insect repellent, and drinking water.

Q: Are blue birds in Michigan migratory?

A: Some blue bird species in Michigan, such as the Eastern Bluebird and Indigo Bunting, are partially migratory. They may migrate to southern regions or coastal areas during the colder months, while others, like the Blue Jay, are year-round residents.

Q: How can I attract bluebirds to my backyard in Michigan?

A: To attract bluebirds to your backyard, you can provide nesting boxes or houses specifically designed for them. Additionally, creating a suitable habitat with a mix of trees, shrubs, and open spaces, offering food sources such as insects, berries, and seeds, and providing fresh water can help entice these magnificent birds.

Q: What is the size range of blue birds in Michigan?

A: Blue birds in Michigan can vary in size depending on the species. Eastern Bluebirds are approximately 6.3 to 8.3 inches (16 to 21 cm) long, while Blue Jays are larger, measuring about 9.8 to 12.2 inches (25 to 31 cm) in length.

Q: How can I differentiate between different species of blue birds in Michigan?

A: Differentiating between blue bird species in Michigan can be done by observing their physical characteristics, such as size, shape, plumage color, and distinctive markings. Consulting a field guide or seeking assistance from experienced birdwatchers can also be helpful in identification.

Q: Are bluebirds in Michigan protected?

A: Yes, blue birds in Michigan, like other native bird species, are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and state laws. It is important to respect their habitats, refrain from disturbing nesting sites, and observe them from a safe and respectful distance.

Q: Can I feed bluebirds in Michigan?

A: Blue birds primarily feed on insects, berries, and seeds found in their natural habitats. While it is not necessary to feed them, you can create a bird-friendly environment by planting native plants that attract insects and offer natural food sources.

Conclusion:

Through patient observation, respectful exploration, and a deep appreciation for their natural habitats, we have had the privilege of glimpsing into the lives of these enchanting creatures. Each encounter, whether it be a fleeting glimpse or a mesmerizing song, has left an indelible imprint on our hearts and minds.The blue birds of Michigan serve as a poignant reminder of the intricate and delicate balance of our natural world. They inspire us to be stewards of the environment, to protect their habitats, and to cherish the rich biodiversity that surrounds us.

May the beauty and grace of these magnificent blue birds forever inspire us to cherish and protect the natural wonders that grace our planet. Let us spread our wings of curiosity and embark on new adventures, forever captivated by the awe-inspiring allure of Michigan’s seventeen magnificent blue birds.

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