Top 28 Backyard Birds in Michigan (Free Picture ID Printable)

White breasted nuthatch for identification

Have you wondered what those birds are that are visiting your backyard in Michigan? Do you need help identifying common backyard birds in Michigan?

There is a great joy in putting up bird feeders and watching what comes to visit but it gets better if you know who they are. Well, now you can find out what are the most common birds in Michigan that visit feeders or hop across your lawn.

So if you’re ready to do some backyard birding in Michigan then read on to find out how to identify birds and how to attract more birds to your yard.

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Also, get free printable backyard bird worksheets with pictures for Michigan to help you identify and keep track of the birds that visit your backyard.

28 common backyard birds in Michigan

  1. Black-capped Chickadee
  2. Blue Jay
  3. American Robin
  4. Northern Cardinal
  5. Mourning Dove
  6. American Goldfinch
  7. American Crow
  8. Red-winged Blackbird
  9. Downy Woodpecker
  10. White-breasted Nuthatch
  11. Song Sparrow
  12. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  13. European Starling
  14. Tufted Titmouse
  15. House Sparrow
  16. Common Grackle
  17. Northern Flicker
  18. House Finch
  19. Dark-eyed Junco
  20. Hairy Woodpecker
  21. Common Yellowthroat
  22. Gray Catbird
  23. Barn Swallow
  24. Eastern Kingbird
  25. Yellow Warbler
  26. Indigo Bunting
  27. Baltimore Oriole
  28. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

These are the backyard birds most often seen in Michigan that may visit your lawn or feeders.  They are the birds that appear most frequently on state checklists on ebird and the data is a combination of birds most frequently spotted in Michigan in summer (June and July), winter (December and January), and throughout the year.

Birds that are not often seen at feeders or in backyards were removed to give you the birds in Michigan you are most likely to see from home.

This data mix ensures that whatever time of year you are backyard birding in Michigan these are the birds you will most likely spot at feeders or on your lawn.

Common Birds at Different Times of Year in Michigan

The birds that are attracted to backyards in Michigan change throughout the year.  The lists below show the backyard birds that are most commonly seen at different times of the year in Michigan.

Notable differences show that American Robins and Red-winged Blackbirds are more common birds in summer in Michigan.

Downy Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatches, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers are more common birds in winter in Michigan.

Common birds in Michigan all year

Black-capped Chickadee 46%
Blue Jay 45%
American Robin 42%
Northern Cardinal 42%
Mourning Dove 39%
American Goldfinch 39%
American Crow 38%
Downy Woodpecker 34%
Red-winged Blackbird 33%
White-breasted Nuthatch 31%

Common birds in Michigan summer

American Robin 64%
Red-winged Blackbird 52%
Song Sparrow 47%
American Goldfinch 46%
Mourning Dove 45%
Blue Jay 42%
Northern Cardinal 40%
Common Grackle 37%
Black-capped Chickadee 35%
American Crow 35%

Common birds in Michigan winter

Black-capped Chickadee 49%
Downy Woodpecker 39%
Blue Jay 38%
Northern Cardinal 38%
White-breasted Nuthatch 36%
Dark-eyed Junco 36%
American Crow 34%
American Goldfinch 33%
Mourning Dove 31%
Red-bellied Woodpecker 29%

Free Printable Backyard Birds Worksheets for Michigan

These free bird identification worksheets have all the common backyard birds in Michigan at different times of the year. So when you want to do some backyard birding these handy guides have pictures and space to either tick off the types of birds you have seen or keep a tally of the total number of birds.

Backyard Birds Identification Worksheet Michigan Page 1
Backyard Birds Identification Worksheet Michigan Page 2
Backyard Birds Identification Worksheet Michigan Page 3

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The 28 most common birds in Michigan

1. Black-capped Chickadee

The Black-capped Chickadee is a cute bird with a big round head and tiny body. These birds will happily feed at backyard feeders and will investigate everything including you! 

They have black-caps and beaks, white cheeks, and are gray on the back, wings, and tail.  They particularly like suet, sunflower seeds, and peanuts or peanut butter. They will even feed from your hand.

They can be found in forests, open woods, parks. Black-capped Chickadees eat seeds, berries and insects, spiders, and suet.

To attract more Black-capped Chickadees to your backyard try suet, sunflower seeds, and peanuts or peanut butter. They will even feed from your hand and are often one of the first birds to discover new feeders. They will also use nest boxes, especially if you fill it with wood shavings.

Black-capped Chickadee

2. Blue Jay

Blue Jays are common songbirds with a blue upright crest, blue and black backs, and white undersides.  They are noisy birds that travel in family groups eating acorns when available and can migrate in large flocks along the Great Lakes and Atlantic coast.

They can be found in forests, but especially near oak as they eat acorns. They can also be found in backyards near feeders.  As well as acorns they eat insects, nuts and seeds, and grain. They may also take eggs from nests or take nestlings

To attract more Blue Jays to your backyard try peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet but they prefer these on tray feeders or hopper feeders on a post.  They will also enjoy a birdbath.

Blue Jay for identification

3. American Robin

American Robins are a common sight on lawns eating earthworms.  They have black heads and back with red or orange breasts.  They tend to roost in trees in winter so you are more likely to see them in your backyard from spring.

American Robins can be found in many habitats, from woodlands, forests, and mountains to fields, parks, and lawns. They eat earthworms, insects, snails, and fruit.

You can attract more American Robins to your yard with sunflower seeds, suet and peanut hearts, fruit, and mealworms.  Platform feeders are best or food scattered on the ground. Also try planting some native plants that produce berries such as juniper, sumac, hawthorn, and dogwood.

American Robin for identification

4. Northern Cardinal

The bright red male Northern Cardinal with black around their faces is a great sight, especially against a white winter background.  The females are also a little showy with their brown coloring, sharp brown crest, red highlights, and red beaks.

Northern Cardinals will sometimes attack their own reflection during breeding season as they obsessively defend their territories.

You can attract more Northern Cardinals to backyard feeders with sunflower seeds, peanut hearts, millet, and milo.

They will feed from large tube feeders, hoppers, platform feeders, or food scattered on the ground.

There are a surprising number of red birds in Michigan that you can spot.

Northern cardinal male and female for identification

5. Mourning Dove

Mourning Doves are graceful small-headed birds, plump bodies and long tails.  They are a soft brown with black spots on the wings.

They can be seen perching on telephone wires and forage for seeds on the ground in grasslands, fields, and backyards. Mourning Doves can be found in open areas or on the edge of woodland.

Mourning Doves are common over all of the lower 48 all year but may migrate after breeding from the far north.

You can attract more Mourning Doves to your backyard by scattering millet on the ground or on platform feeders.  They will also eat black sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn and peanut hearts.

Mourning Dove

6. American Goldfinch

American Goldfinches are popular birds with the males bright yellow and black coloring in spring.  The females are more dull brown as are males in winter.

American Goldfinches breed in far northern states and Canada before migrating to southern states, they remain all year in the rest of the U.S.

They can be found in weedy fields and overgrown areas foraging for sunflower, thistle, and aster plants. They are also common in suburbs, parks, and backyards.

To attract more American Goldfinches to your backyard try planting thistles and milkweed.  They will visit most bird feeders and prefer sunflower seed and nyjer seed. 

Yellow birds in Michigan are most common in spring and summer but American Goldfinches are the only common yellow bird in winter here.

American Goldfinch for identification

7. American Crow

American crows are large all-black birds that make a hoarse, cawing sound. They are common birds that can be found in most habitats including treetops, woods, fields, beaches, or towns.

They eat most things and usually feed on the ground eating earthworms, insects, seeds, and fruit. They also eat fish, young turtles, mussels, and clams and will even eat eggs and nestlings of many species of birds.

American Crows gather in large numbers of up to two million crows in winter to sleep in communal roosts.

You can attract more American Crows to your backyard by scattering peanuts but can become a nuisance as attracted by garbage or pet food if left out.

You can attract more American Crows to your backyard by scattering peanuts.

American Crow for identification

8. Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged blackbirds are very common and easy to identify with the all-black coloring except for the bright red and yellow shoulder patches.  The females are rather dull in comparison with brown streaky coloring.

Red-winged Blackbirds are resident over most of the U.S but they may migrate after breeding from the far north. They can often be spotted sitting on telephone wires and the males will fiercely defend their territories in the breeding season even attacking people that get too close to nests. In winter they roost in large numbers into the millions.

To attract more Red-winged blackbirds to your backyard try mixed grain and seeds spread on the ground.  They will also feed on large tube feeders or platform feeders.

Red winged blackbird for identification

9. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpeckers are small birds that are common at backyard feeders.  They are often mixed in with other birds such as chickadees and nuthatches.  They have black and white coloring with a red patch at the back of their heads.  They look similar to the Hairy Woodpecker.

Downy woodpeckers can be found in woodlots, along streams, city parks and backyards and eat mainly insects beetle larvae, but also berries, acorns and grains.

To attract more Downy Woodpeckers to your backyard try suet feeders but they will also eat black oil sunflower seeds, millet, and peanuts on platform feeders.

There are many species of woodpecker in Michigan that you can spot.

Downy woodpecker for identification

10. White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatches are active little birds that are gray-blue on the back and white on the face and belly, with a black cap. They will often have a chestnut color on the lower belly and under the tail.

They can be found in deciduous forests, woodland edges, parks, and yards with trees or at feeders. They mainly eat insects including beetles and their larvae, caterpillars, ants, and also spiders.

White-breasted Nuthatches also eat seeds and nuts including acorns, hawthorns, sunflower seeds, and sometimes corn crops.

They jam large nuts and acorns into tree bark and then whack them with their bills to open or ‘hatch’ them to get the seed out.

You can attract more White-breasted Nuthatches to your backyard with sunflower seeds and peanuts on tube feeders or suet feeders.

White breasted nuthatch for identification

11. Song Sparrow

Song sparrows are not as remarkable as other backyard birds but these predominantly brown-streaked birds use their almost constant song to attract mates in spring and summer.

They can be found in open, shrubby, and wet areas often perched on a low shrub singing. They are often found at backyard feeders.

Song Sparrows eat a wide variety of insects and plants including beetles, caterpillars, midges, spiders, and earthworms. They will also eat buckwheat, sunflower, raspberries, wild cherries, blackberries, wheat, and rice.

You can attract more song sparrows to your backyard feeders by putting black oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and nyjer on platform feeders.

Song sparrow for identification

12. Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpeckers have a pale red belly that can be difficult to spot, with a red cap and nape and black-and-white stripped back. They are a similar size as a Hairy Woodpecker at around 9 inches.

They make a loud call in spring and summer and are found in woods and forests, especially with deadwood in eastern states. Red-bellied Woodpeckers eat mainly insects and spiders but they will also eat acorns, nuts and pine cones, and some seeds and fruits.

You can attract more Red-bellied Woodpeckers with suet feeders and they will sometimes feed from hummingbird feeders.

Red-bellied woodpecker

13. European Starling

European Starlings are not native but are now one of the most numerous songbirds.  They are stocky black birds with iridescent purple, green, and blue tones. 

Considered a pest by some due to their aggressive behavior these birds fly in large noisy flocks and can be seen perched in groups on the top of trees or flying over fields in flocks.

Starlings eat predominantly insects including beetles, flies and caterpillars, earthworms, and spiders.  They also eat fruit including cherries, holly berries, mulberries, Virginia Creeper, sumac, and blackberries, as well as grains and seeds.

You can attract more European Starlings to your backyard feeders with black oil sunflower seeds, suet, cracked corn, and peanuts.

European Starling for identification

14. Tufted Titmouse

The Tufted Titmouse is gray on the back and white underneath with a cute gray crest and large eyes that often flock with chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers.

They can be assertive over smaller birds and are found in woodlands, parks, and at backyard feeders. They eat mostly insects in summer including caterpillars, beetles, ants and wasps as well as spiders and snails. They will also eat seeds, nuts and berries and will hoard shelled seeds.

You can attract Tufted Titmice to your backyard feeders with sunflower seeds, suet, and peanuts on tube feeders or suet cages.  They will also eat from platform feeders. You can also try putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair.

Tufted titmouse

15. House Sparrow

The House Sparrow is another introduced species that has done very well and is now one of the most common birds. They are found near houses and buildings and can be quite tame so will eat out of your hand.

House Sparrows can be found in most busy areas, especially around cities, towns, farms, or anywhere there are people. They eat mostly grain and seed as well as discarded food.

They can be considered a pest as they are non-native but will be found in backyards even if you do not feed them.

You can attract more House Sparrows to your backyard feeders with most kinds of birdseed, including millet, corn, and sunflower seeds.

House sparrow for identification

16. Common Grackle

The Common Grackle is a blackbird that is taller and longer tailed than a typical blackbird and with glossy iridescent bodies.

They eat many crops but mostly corn and gather in noisy groups high up in trees. They will also eat garbage and so can be a nuisance. Their habitat is varied and includes open woodlands, marshes, parks, and fields. They may gather in their millions in winter to forage and roost, mixed in with other species of blackbird.

The Common Grackle is resident all year in much of the east and all southeastern states but migrate south after breeding in the far north and to the west of their range.

You can attract more Common Grackles to your backyard with most mixed grain and seed, sprinkled on the ground or on platform feeders.

Common grackle

17. Northern Flicker

Northern Flickers are large woodpeckers, between the size of a robin and a crow, with brownish coloring and black spots, bars, and crescents and red on the nape.  The undersides of tail and wing feathers are bright yellow in eastern birds and red in western birds.

Those that breed in Canada or Alaska migrate to southern states but otherwise, they can be found all year over the lower 48. They can be found on the ground looking for ants and beetles in woods or forest edges.

You can attract more Northern Flickers to your backyard feeders with suet and black oil sunflower seeds.

Northern Flicker

18. House Finch

House Finches have a red head and breast in the males and brown-streaked coloring in the females.  Originally only in western states it was introduced to the eastern states and has done very well, even pushing out the Purple Finch.

They can be found in parks, farms, forest edges, and backyard feeders. They can be found in noisy groups that are hard to miss.

They feed on seeds, buds and fruit including thistle, cactus, cherries, apricots, plums, strawberries, blackberries and figs.

You can attract more House Finches to backyard feeders with black oil sunflower seeds or nyjer seeds in tube feeders or platform feeders.

house finch male

19. Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Juncos are sparrows that are different colors depending on the state.  They are generally slate-colored in the east and black, white, and brown in the west.

Some remain resident all year in the west and in the Appalachian Mountains.  Those that breed in Canada and Alaska migrate south in winter to much of the United States.

They can be found in open and partially wooded areas often on the ground and are common across the continent.

You can attract more Dark-eyed Juncos to backyard feeders with a variety of seeds such as black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, millet, and peanuts.  Platform feeders or scattered on the ground are best.

Dark eyed junco for identification

20. Hairy Woodpecker

The Hairy Woodpecker can be found across most of North America, except some of the far south.  They have a small flash of red at the back of their heads but are predominantly black and white.

They are slightly larger than their look like the Downy Woodpecker and with a longer bill. They can be found in large trees and can be heard tapping if you listen for them.

Hairy Woodpecker’s diet is mostly insects, especially larvae of wood-boring beetles but also ants, beetles, bees, wasps, caterpillars, and spiders.

You can attract more Hairy Woodpeckers with suet feeders, but also peanut and black oil sunflower seeds, especially in winter.

Hairy woodpecker

21. Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroats are small songbirds that are brownish on the back and bright yellow underneath, with long tails.  The males have a black mask across the face.  The brightness of the yellow can vary geographically and they may be more olive in parts underneath.

They breed over much of North America and so can be found in the spring and summer often in marshy or wetland areas and brushy fields living in thick, tangled vegetation. 

They eat mostly insects and will be found in large backyards that have dense vegetation.

common yellowthroat

22. Gray Catbird

Gray Catbirds are so named because of their distinctive catty mew song that can last for up to 10 minutes. 

They are medium-sized songbirds with a slate gray coloring, black cap and tail, and a reddish patch under their tails.

Gray Catbirds breed over much of the U.S except the Pacific Coast and inland along the west and southwest before heading south to the Gulf Coast of the U.S, Mexico and Central America, and the West Indies. Some remain all year along the Atlantic Coast.

You can spot Gray Catbirds in dense shrubs, small trees, and along forest edges or hedgerows.

You can attract more Gray Catbirds to your backyard feeders with fruit and fruit trees or shrubs such as dogwood, winterberry, and serviceberry.

gray catbird

23. Barn Swallow

Barn Swallows are small birds with a deep-blue back, wings and tail, and reddish-brown underneath and across the face. The tail has long outer feathers that give a deep fork.

They breed over most of North America before heading to Central and South America. They can be found flying over meadows, farms, and fields looking for insects and usually build mud nests on man-made structures such as in barns.

You can attract more Barn Swallows by putting up nest boxes or cups and may eat ground-up eggshells on a platform feeder.

barn swallow

24. Eastern Kingbird

Eastern Kingbirds are medium-sized, large-headed flycatchers that are blackish on the back and white underneath. Their heads are darker black and they have a white tip on the tail.

They get their name ‘king’ from the aggression they show each other and other birds when defending their nests. They have a concealed crown, of yellow, orange, or red feathers, which they raise when defending themselves or their nest.

They breed in much of the U.S before heading south into Central and South America for winter.  They usually breed in fields, orchards, and along forest edges.  They can often be found nesting near water such as rivers or lakes.

Eastern Kingbirds catch insects in midair, including bees, wasps, ants beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, bugs, and flies. They will often perch up above fields waiting for insects to fly past. They will also eat fruit, including serviceberries, cherries, blackberries, and elderberries.

eastern-kingbird

25. Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warblers are small bright yellow birds with a yellow-green back, and the males have chestnut streaks on the breast, which are a common sight in summer.

They migrate a long-distance and breed over much of North America before heading into Central and northern South America for winter. They can be seen during migration in the far south.

Yellow Warblers can be found along streams and wetlands in thickets and along the edges of fields foraging for insects, including caterpillars, midges, beetles, bugs, and wasps.

Warblers are hard to attract to your backyard as they are shy and eat mainly insects.  To attract Yellow Warblers you can try suet, oranges, and peanut butter and plant berries and native plants that attract insects, so no pesticides or being too tidy!  Birdbaths with fountains with secluded thickets nearby to provide protection.

yellow warbler

26. Indigo Bunting

Indigo Buntings are small birds with the males being bright blue with streaks of black in the wings and tail, females are brown.

They migrate far from breeding grounds in eastern States to winter grounds in Florida, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

Indigo Buntings can be found in weedy fields and shrubby areas foraging for seeds and insects.  You can attract more to your backyard with small seeds such as nyjer and thistle.

Indigo bunting

27. Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Orioles are a colorful sign of spring in the east of North America. The adult males are bright orange and black with white wing bars on the black wings. Females are yellowish underneath and on the head and grayish-brown on the wings, their backs or brownish-yellow. They are about the size of a Robin but more slender and are members of the blackbird family.

Breeding in eastern and central North America from April Baltimore Orioles then migrate to Florida, Central America, and the Caribbean for winter, leaving as early as July. They make incredible hanging bag-like nests woven from fibers.

Baltimore Orioles can be found high up in open woodland, riverbanks, and forest edges foraging for insects and fruit and they often come to parks and backyards. Their diet is insects such as beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers as well as spiders and snails and they help eat pest species. They eat a wide variety of fruits and can damage crops such as raspberries, mulberries, cherries, bananas, and oranges.

To attract more Baltimore Orioles to your yard try oranges cut in half on a platform feeder or hanging from trees. Also, oriole feeders filled with sugar water.  Plant fruit and nectar plants such as raspberries, crab apples, and trumpet vines.

baltimore oriole
baltimore oriole

28. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are bright green on the back and crown, with a gray-white underside and the males have an iridescent red throat. Female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are green on the back and white underneath with brownish crowns and sides.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only breeding hummingbird in eastern North America, they then migrate further south to Central America. Male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can be aggressive in their defense of flowers and feeders.  They do not stick around long after mating and may migrate by early August.

You can find Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in flowering gardens or woodland edges in summer, they are also common in towns.

To attract more Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to your backyard try setting up hummingbird feeders with a mix of sugar and water. Also, plant tubular flowers that are red or orange.

There are more species of hummingbirds in Michigan you can spot.

Ruby throated hummingbirds

Best Bird Feeders to Attract Birds in Michigan

variety of different bird feeders will attract the most species of birds

  1.  Tube Feeders can be filled with different types of birdseed and depending on the seed different birds will be attracted. Black oil sunflower seeds attract Goldfinches, Chickadees, Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, and Pine Siskins.
  2. Ground Feeders or a tray below a Tube Feeder with Black oil sunflowers tube feeders attract Cardinals, Jays, Finches, and Sparrows.
  3. Platform feeders with Millet or Corn attract small and medium-sized birds such as sparrows, Blackbirds, Towhees, Juncos, Doves, Grackles, and Starlings.
  4. Peanut feeders attract Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Titmice, Jays, Juncos, Finches, and Sparrows.
  5. Suet Feeders are great, especially in winter, for Woodpeckers, Cardinals, Nuthatches, Kinglets, Wrens, and Chickadees.
  6. Hummingbird feeders attract these tiny fascinating birds but they also attract other birds too.

How to Attract Birds to Your Yard in Michigan

If you would like to attract more birds to your backyard in Michigan there are some tips:

  1. Provide bird feeders for different types of birds to get the most species to visit your yard.
  2. Provide a water feature such as a birdbath fountain or stream.  Ensure that the water is clean and not stagnant
  3.  Grow native plants that will provide food and shelter. Plants, trees, and shrubs that provide fruit, berries, and nuts. Blackberries, wild grasses, elderberries, serviceberries, Oaks, Beeches, Cherries, sumacs, hemlocks, Purple Coneflowers, Sunflowers, Milkweed, Cardinal Flowers, Trumpet Honeysuckle, Virginia Creeper, Buttonbush, and Dogwoods.
  4. Let your grass grow long to provide cover and seeds.
  5. Leave a brush pile to provide food, protection, and nesting opportunities for birds.
  6. Don’t use pesticides and herbicides as these may be toxic to birds and prevent the natural foraging opportunities for insects and seeds that birds will seek in your yard.
  7. Set up nest boxes to attract breeding birds and ensure they are cleaned every year.

How to Identify Birds in Michigan

Here are some tips to help you identify birds:

  1. Size – Size is the easiest thing to notice about a bird.  Birds are often measured in inches or centimeters in guide books.  It’s best to take a note of the bird in terms of small, medium, or large to be able to look for it later. A small bird is about the size of a sparrow, a medium bird is about the size of a pigeon and a large bird is the size of a goose.
  2. Shape – Take note of the silhouette of the bird and jot it down or draw the outline.  Look at tail length, bill shape, wing shape, and overall body shape.
  3. Color pattern – Take a note of the main color of the head, back, belly, and wings, and tail for the main color and then any secondary colors or patterns. Also take note of any patterns such as banding, spots, or highlights.
  4. Behavior – Are they on the ground or high up in the trees. Are they in flocks or on their own?  Can you spot what they are eating?
  5. Habitat – Woodlands, parks, shrubs, grasslands or meadows, shore or marsh.
  6. Use a bird identification app such as those created by ebird or Audubon