If you’re a fan of birdwatching, then Michigan is the perfect place for you! With over 300 species of birds calling the state home, there’s no shortage of feathered friends to admire. However, if you’re looking for some truly beautiful melodies, then you’ll want to focus on Michigan’s songbirds.
These avian performers come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, but they all have one thing in common – they can really sing! From the cheerful trill of the American Goldfinch to the haunting melody of the Eastern Bluebird, Michigan’s songbirds are a delight to hear.
In this blog post, we’re going to introduce you to 15 species of Michigan songbirds, many of them common backyard birds, complete with audio clips of their beautiful songs. So sit back, relax, and let’s explore the world of Michigan’s songbirds together!
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Table of Contents
Michigan is a Wonderful Environment for Songbirds
Michigan is a mecca for songbirds! And just why is that? Well, it all comes down to habitat, habitat, habitat.
With copious amounts of forests, wetlands, and grasslands, Michigan’s songbirds have found their perfect home. Not only does the state provide abundant food and shelter, but it also offers protection through conservation efforts.
Michigan residents and visitors alike have taken an active role in protecting these feathered friends by promoting responsible land use and reducing threats such as habitat loss and pesticide use. With its natural beauty and active conservation efforts, Michigan is truly a paradise for songbirds.
So, whether you’re a birdwatcher or just someone who loves a good melody, Michigan is the place to be!
Why Do Birds Sing?
Have you ever woken up to the sound of birds singing outside your window? It’s a beautiful way to start the day, but have you ever wondered why they do it? Well, there are actually a few reasons.
One reason is to attract a mate. Male birds will sing to show off their vocal abilities and let females know that they are healthy and strong. It’s their version of a dating profile, meant to catch the attention of the ladies.
Another reason is to defend their territory. Birds will sing to mark their territory and warn other birds to stay away. And sometimes, they just sing because it makes them happy! It’s a natural form of communication for them and a way to express themselves.
So, next time you hear the sweet melodies of our feathered friends, take a moment to appreciate their unique voices and the reasons behind their beautiful songs.
Michigan Songbirds – 15 Species to Get to Know
An Introduction to the American Goldfinch
The American Goldfinch can be easily identified by its bright yellow feathers and tiny black beak. Males are mostly yellow year-round, while females have more muted colors during breeding season and brighter shades in winter. Both sexes also have white breasts with black wings and white stripes that run along each side of their tail feathers.
The song of the American Goldfinch is one of the most distinctive melodies in the bird world – it’s easy to recognize even from far away. It sounds like a light trill that alternates between high and low notes. The call is often described as “per-chic-o-ree” or “potter-a-tee” and can be heard year round in Michigan.
The American Goldfinch can be found all over Michigan – both in rural areas and city parks alike – but they are especially fond of open fields and meadows with plenty of space to fly around.
They tend to avoid heavily wooded areas as they prefer more open space for hunting insects or gathering seeds.
Listen to the song of the American Goldfinch:
Brian Hendrix, XC603828. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/603828
The American Robin – Michigan’s Most Common Songbird
Have you ever heard a bright and cheerful song outside your window in the mornings? Chances are, it was one of Michigan’s most beloved birds, the American robin. Let’s break down what this feathered friend looks like, what its song sounds like, and where you can find it in Michigan.
American Robins are easily recognizable thanks to their distinctive grey-brown coloration and white chest. The male has a black head and a bright red breast, while the female is slightly duller with a streaky brown chest. Both sexes have yellow bills and long legs for hopping around on lawns or fields.
During the summer months, they can be found flitting between trees or perched atop fences or telephone wires singing their melodic songs.
American Robins are well known for their loud, melodious song that is often heard during early morning hours when they begin to wake up. Their song consists of several clear notes that sound like “cheerily” or “teacher” repeated over and over again in quick succession. The female also has her own unique call which sounds like a soft “tseep” noise that she makes while nesting or looking for food.
Listen to the song of the American Robin
All About Michigan’s Tufted Titmouse!
If you’re a bird enthusiast living in Michigan, then you’ve likely heard the beautiful song of the Tufted Titmouse. This delightful little bird is a common sight in many parts of the state and will often be seen singing its distinctive song from high branches or even from power lines! Let’s take a closer look at what this lovely songbird looks like, how it sounds, and where you can find it in Michigan.
The Tufted Titmouse is easily recognizable by its distinct appearance. It has a medium-sized body with an overall grey coloration and a prominent crest on top of its head that stands up when it is startled or alarmed. The underparts are white with some gray streaking, while the wings and tail show significant buffy-orange coloration. Overall, it has an almost comical look about it when compared to other birds.
The Tufted Titmouse has a loud and melodic song that makes it easy to spot in most areas around Michigan. Its call consists of two melodious notes followed by two shorter notes—a “peter-peter-pete pete” sound that carries for quite a distance. Its song tends to be louder during breeding season as males compete for female attention!
The Tufted Titmouse can be found throughout much of the United States but is particularly abundant in Michigan. You can find them in woodlands, woodland edges, parks, gardens, and suburban neighborhoods across the state year-round.
During spring and summer months these birds can also be seen at backyard feeders looking for easy meals.
Listen to the song of the Tufted Titmouse:
Paul Driver, XC375653. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/375653
A Closer Look at Michigan’s Scarlet Tanager
Did you know that the Scarlet Tanager is one of Michigan’s most treasured songbirds? This vibrant species has a unique appearance and its cheerful singing can be heard throughout the state. Let’s take a closer look at this beautiful bird and learn more about where it can be found in Michigan.
The Scarlet Tanager is easily recognizable by its striking red and black coloring. The male has an overall bright red body with black wings and tail, while the female is more understated with a yellow-green body, grey-brown wings and tail, two pale wing bars, and a yellowish throat.
Both sexes have two white wing bars and white outer tail feathers that create conspicuous flashes of white when the bird flies away. It also has a stout bill for cracking open nuts, beetle larvae, and other hard-shelled foods.
The male Scarlet Tanager has an endearing song that sounds like a high pitched “pee-cher” or “pwee-ee-oo”. They sing from perches high in trees throughout their breeding season which typically begins in late May or early June and runs until August or September. The female is usually silent but sometimes she will give a short chip call or churr call when searching for food.
The Scarlet Tanager breeds in deciduous forests across southern Canada and throughout much of eastern North America including Michigan. During migration season (April – May), they can be spotted traveling through northern parts of Michigan as well as along Lake Erie’s shorelines on their way to their breeding grounds further north.
In the fall (September – October), they make their way southward again to spend winter months in Central America and South America.
Listen to the song of the Scarlet Tanager
An Introduction to the Evening Grosbeak
Michigan is home to a variety of beautiful songbirds, including the impressive Evening Grosbeak. If you’re an avid birdwatcher or just have an appreciation for nature, then the grosbeak should definitely be on your list of birds to spot in Michigan. Keep reading to learn about one of the most dramatic looking songbirds in Michigan!
The evening grosbeak is a large, stocky finch with bright yellow and white feathers that contrast beautifully against its black wings. Its bold coloring makes it easy to spot in a crowd of other birds. It has a thick bill that is cone-shaped, which helps it crack open seeds. Males are more brightly colored than females, but both sexes share similar features.
The evening grosbeak’s call is described as “cheerily” and often sounds like it’s saying “qui-qui-qui” or “rink-a-dee-doo” – two very distinct sounds that will help you identify them if you hear them while out birdwatching.
The males sing a song that is composed of short phrases made up of clear notes, making it one of the easier bird songs to recognize and remember in Michigan.
The evening grosbeak can be found throughout Michigan during the summer months. They feed primarily on fruit and seeds so they tend to stay near wooded areas where there is plenty of food available for them. You can also find them flocking around backyard birdfeeders during winter months when there isn’t as much natural food available.
Listen to the song of the Evening Grosbeak:
Michigan’s Flying Musicians: All About the Purple Martin
Have you ever heard a melodic trill song ringing out in the summer air? If you’re lucky, it might be the song of a Purple Martin. These birds are found at least somewhere in Michigan during every season and they have plenty to show off! Let’s explore why you should keep an eye out for these feathered friends.
Purple Martins are large birds with a length of 7-9 inches, wingspan of up to 17 inches, and weight of around 1.5 ounces. They have dark purple-blue feathers with iridescent highlights and black wingtips. Their white underbellies contrast nicely with their darker feathers, making them easy to spot as they fly through the sky.
Purple Martins have an unmistakable song that consists of several chirps and trills repeated over and over again. The sound is often described as sounding like “cheerily-cheerup” or “per-chicouree”. You can find audio recordings online if you would like to get familiar with their musical call before heading out on your birding adventures!
Purple Martins migrate through Michigan from late April/early May until September/October each year. During this time they can be found anywhere from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula all the way down to its southern border (and everywhere in between!).
While they prefer open spaces near water sources, these adaptable birds have been known to set up shop in urban gardens and parks as well. In addition, many people build nesting boxes specifically for Purple Martins which can be found throughout the state.
Listen to the song of the Purple Martin:
Get to Know the Chipping Sparrow
If you’re a bird enthusiast living in Michigan, then chances are you’ve seen (or at least heard) the chipping sparrow. This small, friendly songbird is found throughout Michigan and can easily be identified by its bright chestnut cap, white cheeks, and distinct song. Let’s take a closer look at this delightful little bird.
The chipping sparrow has a very distinct color pattern that can easily be spotted in the wild. Its head is covered in a chestnut-colored cap with white facial stripes on either side of its face. It has bright black eyes and a tiny bill that ranges from pink to grayish-pink.
Its back is grayish-brown while its rump and tail are chestnut with white outer feathers; it also has two white wingbars on each side of its body. All together, these features make the chipping sparrow one of the easiest birds to identify in Michigan!
Chipping sparrows have an unmistakable song that stands out among other birds in their habitat. Their songs consist of short, cheerful phrases repeated over and over again with pauses between each phrase – it sounds like “chippy-chippity-chips.” They often sing from tree branches or telephone wires and can be heard from quite far away!
Chipping sparrows are most commonly found in open woodlands or grassy fields throughout the state of Michigan. They prefer open areas that provide plenty of perching spots for them to sing from as well as access to food sources such as insects or seeds.
You may also see them around bird feeders or even in city parks where they come to find food and shelter.
Listen to the song of the Chipping Sparrow:
Let’s Talk About the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
Michigan songbirds have been a source of beauty and joy for centuries. While there are many species of birds that call Michigan home, one in particular stands out—the Rose-breasted Grosbeak. This stunning bird is a common sight in the state and its colorful plumage and melodic song make it easy to recognize. Let’s take a closer look at this beautiful creature.
The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is an absolute stunner! With its bright pinkish-red chest contrasted against its black back, white wings, white belly and large triangular-shaped bill, it’s no wonder why this bird has become so beloved. The female Grosbeak isn’t quite as flashy as the male but still comes with its own unique charm, featuring a brownish-gray chest with shades of yellow and a white eyebrow.
To hear the Rose-breasted Grosbeak sing is to hear pure music! Its energetic songs contain loud whistles that can travel up to half a mile away, ringing through the air with delight. You may also hear this bird chirp or click when communicating with other birds or warning them of danger.
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are incredibly common in Michigan. They can be found anywhere from woodlands to suburban yards during spring and summer months throughout most of the state—with the exception being northern regions like The Upper Peninsula where they may migrate further south during wintertime.
During fall migration they can even be spotted along Lake Huron around Presque Isle County.
Listen to the song of the Evening Grosbeak:
The Beautiful Eastern Bluebird
For those of us who live in Michigan, we are lucky to be surrounded by some of the most beautiful songbirds in North America. One such bird is the Eastern Bluebird, a small thrush that’s seen throughout the state. Let’s take a closer look at this lovely creature and find out what makes it so special!
The Eastern Bluebird is one of nature’s true beauties. It has a bright blue upper body with an orange-brown chest and throat. It also has a white belly and wings that are speckled with black spots. Its bill is short, black, and slightly curved downward. The female Eastern Bluebird looks similar but is more brownish than blue.
The Eastern Bluebird has a pleasing song that can be heard all across Michigan during breeding season (March through August). Its song consists of melodious whistles and warbles that are usually repeated twice or three times in succession. It usually sings from an exposed perch or from low shrubs near its nest site.
The Eastern Bluebird can be found in many parts of Michigan during spring and summer months, although they are more common in certain areas like northern Lower Peninsula, southern Upper Peninsula, Huron County, Oakland County, western Wayne County, and Ottawa County.
They inhabit open woodlands as well as suburban parks and gardens where there are plenty of trees for them to build their nests in. They often feed on insects like beetles as well as berries when they can find them.
Listen to the song of the Eastern Bluebird:
The Eastern Towhee: Michigan’s Friendly Songbird
Have you ever heard a loud, sharp “Drink Your Tea!” while out in nature? Chances are good that it was coming from an Eastern Towhee! This friendly songbird can be found all over Michigan, so let’s take a closer look at what the Eastern Towhee looks like, sings like, and where you can find them in our state.
The Eastern Towhee is a medium-sized bird with a large bill and a prominent tail that is often held upright. Males are mainly black with white wing patches, chestnut sides, and a white belly. Females are buffy-brown above with streaks on their back and wing feathers, plus buffy underparts with dark streaks. Both male and female have rufous flanks, which give them a unique appearance when compared to other sparrows.
The song of this Michigan beauty is one of the most recognizable sounds in the woods! It begins with several rapid “drink your teeeeea” phrases followed by two lower “chewink” notes. In addition to its song, it also has two main calls; a dry “chip” call used while foraging and an alarm call that sounds like “towhoo” or “towhee.”
This species breeds throughout Michigan during summer months but can be found here year-round as well. You can find this towhee in open woodlands near edges and clearings where they build nests on or near the ground. Listen for its song or watch for its distinctive bobbing tail as it hops around on leaf litter looking for food!
Listen to the song of the Eastern Towhee:
The Indigo Bunting of Michigan
Have you ever seen a flash of brilliant blue in the sky and wondered what kind of bird it was? If you’ve been lucky enough to spot an indigo bunting, you’re in for a treat. These small songbirds are common throughout Michigan, so let’s take a closer look at them.
Appearance-wise, the Indigo Bunting is quite stunning. It has a bright blue head, back, and wings, with a blueish belly. Its eyes are dark brown and its bill is light gray or black. Males tend to be much brighter than females, so it’s easy to spot males when they are out searching for food or mates.
The song of male Indigo Buntings will often sound like words or phrases repeated in pairs: “what! what! where? where? see it! see it!” It is sharp, clear, and lively, and can last for a long time, sometimes about one per minute lasting all day.
Indigo Buntings can be found in most parts of Michigan during the summer months between April and August. During these months they are generally found near fields with hedgerows or other shrubby vegetation nearby. Keep your eyes open while walking around these areas — you might just catch sight of one flitting from bush to bush!
Meet the Yellow Warbler: Michigan’s Sunny Songbird
Michigan is home to a wide variety of songbirds that make their home in the state’s many forests, wetlands, and grasslands. One of the most beloved songbirds found in Michigan is the Yellow Warbler. Let’s take a closer look at this little bird with its bright yellow feathers and cheery chirp.
Yellow Warblers grow to a size of 4-5 inches and has a wingspan of 8-10 inches. It is easily identified by its bright yellow feathers and breast, and chestnut-colored streaks along its sides. The male has an orange-rust colored cap on its head while the female does not have any head coloring.
The distinctive song of this bird has been described as “sweet sweet sweet I’m so sweet!”—a cheerful combination of two notes repeated several times.
The Yellow Warbler can be found in open woodlands, fields, wetlands, and backyards throughout Michigan during the summer months from April to October each year. During winter months they migrate south to warmer climates in Central America, Mexico, and some parts of South America.
Its diet consists mostly of insects such as caterpillars, beetles, moths, ants, aphids and flies; however it will also eat seeds when insects are harder to find.
Listen to the song of the Yellow Warbler:
Michigan’s Beautiful Barn Swallow
If you are an avid bird watcher in Michigan, then you have likely seen the beautiful Barn Swallow. This distinctive songbird is characterized by its long, deeply forked tail and its bright blue-black feathers. It is also known for its unique twittering call, which can be heard all around the state during summer months. Let’s take a closer look at this amazing bird so that you can learn more about it!
Barn Swallows have an unmistakable appearance. Its wingspan ranges from 8 to 11 inches and it weighs between 14 and 21 grams. Its body is mainly brown with a white rump, chestnut forehead, and pale blue-black feathers on top of its head and back. Its long, deeply forked tail is usually held low when in flight.
The Barn Swallow’s song is quite different from that of other birds. It consists of a series of short trills composed of twittering notes and warbles that rise and fall in pitch as they progress through their musical phrases. They often sing in duets or trios as they fly high into the sky in search of insects to feed on.
In Michigan, the Barn Swallow can be found near open fields and meadows throughout the state during the summer months (April to September). These birds prefer open areas where they can find plenty of insects to feed on while avoiding predators such as hawks or cats.
They often build their nests in barns or outbuildings near human dwellings, but they can also be found nesting near bridges or other man-made structures with overhanging roofs or eaves.
Listen to the song of the Barn Swallow:
Get to Know Michigan’s House Wren
Have you ever been lucky enough to hear the song of a House Wren in Michigan? If not, you’re missing out! House Wrens are one of the most common songbirds in Michigan, and they have some of the most beautiful songs. Read on to learn more about this avian beauty.
The House Wren is a small brownish-gray bird with dark bars on its wings and tail and a short bill. Their small size makes them difficult to spot unless they’re singing, but if you’re patient and keep your eyes peeled you can often find them hopping around logs or branches.
The House Wren is known for its incredibly loud, cheerful song that can be heard from far away. Its song consists of a series of high-pitched chirps followed by a trill that gets faster as it goes along. This song is so distinctive that once you hear it you will never forget it!
The House Wren is native to nearly all parts of Michigan, but they tend to be especially prevalent in wooded areas like forests, parks, and even suburban backyards. They also love nesting boxes, so if you’re looking for one be sure to check out any nearby birdhouses or other nesting spots around your neighborhood.
Listen to the song of the House Wren:
The Charming Purple Finch of Michigan
If you’ve ever been birdwatching in Michigan, chances are you’ve spotted a Purple Finch. These birds are a common sight in Michigan and they have distinct features that make them easy to identify. They also have a unique song that can be heard throughout the state. Let’s take a closer look at the Purple Finch!
The Purple Finch is easily recognizable thanks to its bright plumage. This species has two color variations, male or female. Males tend to be reddish-brown on their upperparts and pinkish-red on their underparts, while females tend to be more brownish-gray with streaks across its chest and belly. Both sexes have white outer tail feathers and pointed bills that aid in their insectivorous diets.
The call of the Purple Finch is one of its most recognizable characteristics. It sounds like a high-pitched “churr” or “kirrr” noise that typically lasts around three seconds. The song is usually performed by males as part of their courtship behavior and it can often be heard during early morning hours when they are most active.
The Purple Finch is found throughout Michigan, particularly during migration season which occurs from April through mid-May and again from September through October. During this time, these birds can be seen in wooded areas along rivers and lakes as well as forested areas with plenty of trees for shelter.
In addition, they can also be seen in gardens, parks, backyards and other urban settings where there are plenty of trees for them to roost in or feed from.
The Purple Finch, House Wren, and Eastern Bluebird are just a few of the beautiful songbirds that can be found in Michigan. These species have distinct features and calls that make them easy to identify, and they all provide a delightful soundscape for birdwatchers across the state.
With an eye for detail and a little bit of patience, you can easily spot these birds in their natural habitat and appreciate their colorful song as they fly around. So the next time you’re out birdwatching, be sure to look out for these Michigan songbirds! They are sure to become a favorite of yours.
Thanks for reading! Happy Birding!