In Michigan, a state known for its natural beauty, there is an abundance of bird species that bring vibrant colors to the landscape. While there are over 435 species of birds to be found in Michigan, this article focuses on the red, orange, and yellow birds that grace its skies. It emphasizes that while color may be eye-catching, the size and shape of the birds are often more important for proper identification. The article goes on to highlight some of the common red, orange, and yellow birds found in Michigan, such as the American Robin, Northern Cardinal, Barn Swallow, Baltimore Oriole, American Goldfinch, and many others. Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher or simply a nature enthusiast, this article will surely provide a fascinating glimpse into the colorful avian diversity that Michigan has to offer.
Michigan is home to a wide range of bird species, with over 435 species spotted in the state. Among these, some of the most common and eye-catching birds are those with vibrant red plumage. While it is important to note that shape and size are often more crucial for bird identification than color alone, these red birds are hard to miss. Let’s take a closer look at some of the red birds found in Michigan.
The American Robin (Turdus migratorius) is a familiar sight in Michigan, known for its bright orange-red breast and gray-brown upperparts. These medium-sized birds are known for their melodious song, often heard during the early morning and evening hours. American Robins are often seen hopping and running along lawns, hunting for earthworms, insects, and berries as they forage for food.
Another iconic red bird found in Michigan is the Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis). The male Northern Cardinal boasts a brilliant crimson plumage, contrasting beautifully against its black face mask and crest. The female is similarly striking, albeit with a more subdued reddish-brown coloration. These birds are often spotted perched on tree branches, singing their sweet and varied songs. They are frequent visitors to backyard feeders, particularly during the winter months.
The House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) is a common bird in Michigan, recognized for its red or raspberry-colored head, breast, and rump. Male House Finches exhibit a richer red coloration, while females are duller with streaked patterns. These finches have adapted well to human-altered landscapes and can be found in urban areas, suburban neighborhoods, and rural settings. House Finches have a delightful song that fills the air, and they often form large flocks during the non-breeding season.
The Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) is a striking bird known for its contrasting black and white plumage with a vibrant splash of red on its breast. The males have a prominent rose-colored bib, while females display a streaked pattern. These grosbeaks have a beautiful melodic song that resembles the sound of a robin, though richer and more lyrical. They can be found nesting in woodland habitats in Michigan during the spring and summer months.
One of the smallest and most awe-inspiring red birds in Michigan is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris). These tiny birds are a sight to behold, with the males showcasing a vibrant iridescent red throat or “gorget.” The rest of their body is mainly green, allowing them to blend effortlessly into their surroundings. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are known for their remarkable hovering ability and are often spotted feeding on nectar from flowers or sugar-water feeders.
The Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea) is an elusive red bird found in Michigan’s forests during the summer months. The adult males sport a brilliant scarlet plumage, with contrasting jet-black wings and tail. In contrast, females and immature males display a more mottled greenish-yellow coloration. Scarlet Tanagers have a distinctive song, often described as a series of short, slurred phrases. Their preference for high-canopy forests makes them a bit more challenging to spot than some other red birds.
Just like the red birds, Michigan is home to a diverse array of orange-colored birds. These birds, with their vibrant hues ranging from deep orange to rusty brown tones, add a bright splash of color to the surrounding landscape. Let’s explore some of the orange birds commonly found in Michigan.
The Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) is a familiar bird with its long, forked tail and vibrant orange-brown underparts. These agile birds are often spotted swooping and gliding through the air as they catch insects on the wing. Barn Swallows typically nest in barns, bridges, and other man-made structures, hence their name. Their cheerful chirping calls are a common sound during the summer months in Michigan.
The Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) is a stunning orange bird known for its vivid plumage. Males sport a bold orange color on their underparts, contrasting with their black head, wings, and tail. Females have a more subdued orange coloration, with grayish-brown feathers. Baltimore Orioles are known for their beautiful flute-like songs and can often be found nesting in tall trees in Michigan’s woodlands and urban parks.
The Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) is a small songbird with a distinct rusty-orange breast and belly. These birds have short wings and a slightly upturned bill, which they use adeptly to forage for insects and seeds on tree trunks and branches. Red-breasted Nuthatches are known for their nasal calls, which resemble a tin horn or toy trumpet. They are commonly found in coniferous forests, including Michigan’s northern areas.
The American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) is a unique bird with striking black and orange plumage. Males display bright orange patches on their wings, tail, and sides, while females have a more subdued yellowish-orange coloration. American Redstarts are known for their lively behavior, flicking their wings open and shut like a fan while foraging for insects amongst leaves. These birds can be found in Michigan’s woodlands and wooded swamps during the breeding season.
The Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) is a medium-sized bird with a predominantly black upper body and distinctive rusty-orange sides. Males have a black head with bright red eyes, while females have a more brownish hue. Eastern Towhees are known for their distinct “drink-your-tea” song, which is used by birdwatchers to locate them. These birds prefer shrubby habitats, thickets, and forest edges, making Michigan’s rural and suburban areas ideal for their presence.
The Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) is a magnificent bird of prey that can be recognized by its sleek build and reddish-orange barred underparts. These agile hunters have short, rounded wings and a long tail, enabling them to navigate skillfully through forests in pursuit of prey. Cooper’s Hawks primarily feed on small birds and often surprise their prey by using trees for cover during the chase. They can be found in a variety of habitats throughout Michigan.
The Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) is a bird with a rich, rusty-brown plumage and a bold, dark-striped face. These secretive birds can be difficult to spot, but their distinctive sound often gives them away. Brown Thrashers have a vast repertoire of songs, mimicking the calls of other birds and even some sounds from nature. They can be found in shrubby areas, thickets, and woodland edges throughout Michigan.
The American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) is a small falcon species with eye-catching orange-brown plumage. Males have brighter orange coloration on their backs and crowns, while females exhibit more extensive brown mottling. These birds are skilled hunters, often perching on elevated spots and hunting for small mammals, insects, and birds. The American Kestrel can be found in open fields, farmlands, and other open habitats across Michigan.
The Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) is a medium-sized songbird with a warm, orange-brown coloration on its wings and back, which contrasts beautifully with its creamy white underparts. These thrushes are renowned for their rich and flute-like song, filling forests with their melodic tunes during the breeding season. Wood Thrushes prefer mature deciduous forests and can be found nesting in Michigan’s woodlands.
Yellow birds bring a ray of sunshine to Michigan’s birdwatching scene, with their bright and cheerful plumage often catching the eye. These birds, ranging in shades of vibrant yellow to more subtle hues, can be found in various habitats throughout the state. Let’s discover some of the yellow birds commonly spotted in Michigan.
The American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) is a small songbird renowned for its bright yellow plumage. Males boast a vibrant yellow color during the breeding season, while females and juveniles display a more greenish-yellow appearance. These finches are a delight to watch as they flit and glide through the air, often gathering in small flocks. American Goldfinches can be found in open fields, meadows, and residential areas across Michigan.
The Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) is a woodpecker species with a stunning combination of yellow and black markings. This bird exhibits a yellow underwing and tail feathers, which are often visible during flight. Males have a black “mustache” marking on their cheeks, while females have a more subtle variation. Northern Flickers are known for their distinctive “wick-a-wick-a-wick” call and can be found in open woodlands with trees or dead snags for nesting.
The Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) is a sleek medium-sized bird with silky plumage, featuring a pale yellow vent and yellow-tipped tail feathers. These gregarious birds often travel in large flocks, feeding on berries and insects. Cedar Waxwings have a high-pitched, thin call often described as “see, see, see.” They can be spotted in woodlands, residential areas, and near bodies of water, often congregating in trees where fruit is abundant.
The Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) is a small warbler species, with males sporting a vibrant yellow throat and breast, bordered by dark streaks. Females lack the bold black mask seen in males but display a more subtle yellow coloration. Common Yellowthroats are known for their “witchety-witchety-witchety” song, which often emanates from dense vegetation near wetlands, marshes, and thickets. With their habitat preferences, they are commonly found across Michigan.
The Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia) is a tiny songbird with bright yellow plumage, often displaying rusty streaks on its breast. Males have reddish-black streaks on their chest, while females have lighter streaks. These warblers are known for their sweet and musical song, which sounds like “sweet-sweet-sweet, I’m so sweet.” Yellow Warblers can be found in various habitats, including woodlands, wetlands, and even residential areas with suitable trees.
The Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) is a highly recognizable bird with a vibrant yellow rump, yellow patches on its sides, and a yellow throat. These warblers are commonly seen during the migration and winter months, often in mixed-species flocks. Yellow-rumped Warblers have a diverse diet, ranging from insects to berries, enabling them to survive in different habitats. They can be found in woodlands, forest edges, and even urban parks in Michigan.
Great Crested Flycatcher
The Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus) is a medium-sized flycatcher with a lemon-yellow belly and a rusty-colored tail. These birds have a distinctive call, often described as a loud “wheep,” which can be heard throughout their habitats. Great Crested Flycatchers primarily feed on flying insects, catching them in mid-air during acrobatic flights. They can be found in a variety of wooded habitats, including deciduous and mixed forests.
The Nashville Warbler (Leiothlypis ruficapilla) is a small migratory songbird with a pale yellow throat and underparts. These warblers have a distinct gray hood on their head, making them easily identifiable. Nashville Warblers have a rapid and high-pitched song, consisting of short warbling phrases. They can be found in Michigan’s woodlands, particularly near creeks, wetlands, and other thickets.
Black-throated Green Warbler
The Black-throated Green Warbler (Setophaga virens) is a petite warbler species with olive-green upperparts and a vibrant yellow face and underparts. Males possess a distinct black throat, while females have a pale yellow throat. These warblers have a buzzy song, often described as “zoo-zee-zoo-zoo-zee.” Black-throated Green Warblers can be found in a variety of forested habitats, particularly mature deciduous forests with a dense canopy.
The Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus) is a small finch species with subtle yellow and brown coloring. Its overall appearance is streaked with darker brown tones, while its wings reveal bright yellow markings. Pine Siskins are highly nomadic and erratic in their movements, often appearing in large flocks and then disappearing for periods of time. They can be found in coniferous forests and open woodlands, particularly during the winter months in Michigan.
The Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum) is a migratory songbird known for its unique tail-wagging behavior. It showcases a mix of rusty brown and yellow tones on its back, with a yellow-throated and white underparts. These warblers have a distinctive “chip” call and can be found in a variety of habitats, including wetlands, swamps, and open woodland areas. Palm Warblers are frequent visitors to Michigan during their spring and fall migrations.
The Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna) is a medium-sized bird with a vibrant yellow underbody and a black V-shaped collar on its chest. These birds are known for their distinctive, melodic songs that can be heard from open grassy fields and meadows. Eastern Meadowlarks are often found perched and singing on fence posts or low shrubs. They can be identified by their bright yellow coloration and prominent black patch on their chest.
The Yellow-throated Vireo (Vireo flavifrons) is a small songbird with a bright yellow throat and underparts, contrasting with its olive-green upperparts. These vireos have a sweet and cascading song that can be heard from the treetops of Michigan’s woodlands. Yellow-throated Vireos are often seen actively foraging for insects by exploring foliage and branches. They can be found in mature deciduous forests and tree-lined areas across the state.
In conclusion, Michigan is a haven for bird species, with a diverse range of colors adding vibrancy to its natural landscapes. While red, orange, and yellow birds are just a fraction of the avian wonders found in the state, they are undoubtedly a delight to observe. Whether it’s the mesmerizing melodies of the American Robin and Northern Cardinal, the agile flight of the Cedar Waxwing and Barn Swallow, or the striking colors of the American Goldfinch and Black-throated Green Warbler, Michigan offers a wealth of birdwatching opportunities. So grab your binoculars, head outdoors, and immerse yourself in the captivating world of birds.