Michigan is a great place to go birdwatching, home to many delightful species; if you’ve ever been out there with your binoculars and had the pleasure of catching a glimpse of bright blue coloration, however, you may be wondering which blue bird you’ve come across!
As fun as hunting for this answer may be, it can also be tricky: there are over ten birds boasting some kind of blue in their feathers throughout this great state. With that in mind, you may be wondering: what are the 15 popular blue birds in Michigan?
Michigan’s blue birds are popular for their variety across species, as well as their beauty. These can range from swallows, to herons, and even down to mallard ducks. In total, there are 15 bird species with blue coloration native to the state of Michigan.
In this article, we will show you our list of the 15 popular blue birds in Michigan and give you a chance to find out more about them, too!
15 Popular Blue Birds in Michigan State
As we mentioned before, if you noticed a quick-moving, feathery blue streak while out in Michigan, it can be tricky to determine which bird you saw. Luckily, we’ve formed a list below of the 15 most popular birds in Michigan!
- Eastern Bluebird
- Indigo Bunting
- Barn Swallow
- Blue Jay
- Cerulean Warbler
- Blue Gray Gnatcatcher
- Purple Martin
- Tree Swallow
- Great Blue Heron
- Belted Kingfisher
- Black Throated Blue Warbler
- Red Breasted Nuthatch
- Common Grackle
- Brown-headed Cowbird
- Mallard Duck
As we continue, we will cover each of these intriguing birds in more detail, including a profile of their scientific names, diets, lifespans, and habitats, as well as much more. Let’s get started!
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1. Eastern Bluebird
- Scientific Name: Sialia Sialis
- Diet: Berries, wild fruits, insects, salamanders, lizards.
- Habitat: Open country with vegetation.
- Lifespan: 6 to 10 years
- Size: 8.3 inches long
- Weight: 1.1 ounces
- Wingspan: 10 to 13 inches
You will typically notice the blast of orange and blue that is the little Eastern bluebird during the summer months. This is because they love the warmer parts of the season for bountiful amounts of their food. In the winter, the Eastern Bluebird will migrate back to the southern states if they are originally from the north; sometimes they even fly to Mexico!
Eastern Bluebirds that are male have a pretty orange bit of fluff around their necks, while the blue coloring continues up their round heads to look like a small hat! Female Eastern Bluebirds, on the other hand, are a little duller in color, with brownish gray on their heads in addition to the blue and orange.
Eastern Bluebirds like to nest in holes, but they are just as happy in birdhouses all over Michigan!
2. Indigo Bunting
- Scientific Name: Passerina Cyanea
- Diet: Seeds, insects
- Habitat: Forest Edges
- Lifespan: 10 years
- Size: 4.5 to 5.1 inches
- Weight: 0.42 to 5.1 inches
- Wingspan: 7 to 9 inches
This type of bird is technically a finch! It is much brighter than the Easter Bluebird, and it’s vibrant color only gets deeper during the summer months with the exclusion of it’s dark brown tail feathers and the tips of it’s wings.
This highly saturated blue color does not come in until male Indigo Buntings are fully grown, with female Indigo Buntings and juveniles remaining light brown and white. They are loud singers, especially during mating season! You are not likely to see the Indigo Bunting in Michigan until the summer months; it spends winter in South and Central America.
3. Barn Swallow
- Scientific Name: Hirundo rustica
- Diet: Flying insects, termites.
- Habitat: Forested areas
- Lifespan: 4 to 8 years
- Size: 5.7 to 7.8 inches long
- Weight: 0.6 to 0.71 ounces
- Wingspan: 12 to 13 inches
One of the most deeply colored and gorgeous examples of blue birds you’ll ever see in Michigan is the Barn Swallow. Like the Eastern Bluebird, it characterizes it’s deep indigo-blue coloration with a touch of orange, this time around the face, and a healthy helping of creamy white along the belly and chest.
This swallow is fairly common, being local to pretty much all of North America below the Arctic circle. Its feathers are iridescent, reflective, and lovely. One of the identifying features of this critter is the forked tail feathers it sports!
Like most birds, the beauty and color of the feathers do not really reach their full potential until adulthood. They like to nest in high but sheltered places, whether the hollows of trees or the rafters of a barn!
4. Blue Jay
- Scientific Name: Cyanocitta cristata
- Diet: insects, snails, small rodents, baby birds, carrion.
- Habitat: Pine woods, groves, suburbs.
- Lifespan: 7 years
- Size: 8 to 12 inches
- Weight: 2.3 to 3.8 ounces
- Wingspan: 13 to 17 inches
This may be one of the more well-known bird variants in the world, but that doesn’t make the high-feathered Blue Jay any less striking when you see it flitting around Michigan! Blue Jays are a gray-to-blue on the top of their bodies, with striking navy stripes and an underbelly of snow-white. Their sprig of pointed head feathers and dark facial markings make them stand out.
Blue Jays are known for being territorial, aggressively attacking and chasing out any other birds in their territory. With that said, although they do live in small groups, they are not often observed protecting one another.
Blue Jays are also opportunistic when it comes to what they’ll eat. They are just as happy snacking on caterpillars as they are carrion!
5. Cerulean Warbler
- Scientific Name: Setophaga Cerulea
- Diet: insects
- Habitat: mountainous forests
- Lifespan: 6 years
- Size: 4.3 inches long
- Weight: 0.3 ounces
- Wingspan: 7.9 inches
This delightful, berry-blue songbird is sadly endangered. However, it can sometimes, rarely, still be spotted occupying Michigan now and then! Cerulean Warblers are a more muted but still lovely blue, with darker streaks on their backs and wing feathers. These wings are also distinctive for white bars.
Males and females look pretty similar, except males will sometimes have faint hints of greenish coloration, too. They do migrate after breeding in Michigan during the summer to South America for the winter.
The reason Cerulean Warblers are endangered is because they prefer tall, old trees in mountainous forests like the Appalachians to nest in, and their habitat is steadily decreasing.
6. Blue Gray Gnatcatcher
- Scientific Name: Polioptila caerulea
- Diet: Insects
- Habitat: Open woods
- Lifespan: 3 to 4 years
- Size: 3 to 5 inches long
- Weight: 0.18 ounces
- Wingspan: 6 inches
It may be easy to mistake the Blue Gray Gnatcatcher for a warbler, but truthfully, it is easy to distinguish once you notice it’s longer tail feathers! This tail also has a characteristic white stripe near the edges, which matches the bright white rings around the bird’s eyes.
Females and younger Blue Gray Gnatcatchers are more muted, with gray throughout their plumage. They inhabit Michigan while breeding in the warm months of August and May. They do migrate when part of the northwestern population.
You will know the Blue Gray Gnatcatcher by it’s upturned, long tail!
7. Purple Martin
- Scientific Name: Progne Subis
- Diet: insects
- Habitat: Open areas
- Lifespan: 4 to 5 years
- Size: 7 to 8 inches
- Weight: 0.35 to 1.9 ounces
- Wingspan: 15 inches
The purple martin is a swallow species, but it is notable while flying through Michigan for it’s lack of light belly! In fact, all of the Purple Martin is darkly colored, with blue to purple nearly black feathers which reflect light. Though they have been known to nest in trees, they have since adapted to living in birdhouses and any nooks or crannies they can find!
Purple Martins are social, enjoying a nesting community of several pairs. It is a delight to watch Purple Martins hunt in flight. They even swoop down to drink while flying!
Typically the Purple Martin spends it’s time in South America during the winter, but if you put up a birdhouse specifically marketed for housing Purple Martins, do not be surprised to find them nesting in it during the summer months in Michigan!
8. Tree Swallow
- Scientific Name: Tachycineta bicolor
- Diet: Flying insects
- Habitat: Marshland, lakes, ponds
- Lifespan: 2 to 12 years
- Size: 5 inches
- Weight: 0.60 to 0.90 ounces
- Wingspan: 12 to 14 inches
This type of swallow is one of Michigan’s most common birds, but that doesn’t mean they are less beautiful! Tree Swallows do look primarily blue with a white underbelly, but their feathers are so iridescent that when light hits them, they appear to change color, wonderfully!
You can usually spot a tree swallow living near sources of water and hunting in the air, which is where it gets all of its insect meals. They love to nest in boxes and are no strangers to the Michigan backyard. That being said, because it only eats insects caught in flight, the Tree Swallow will usually migrate to Central America during the winter.
9. Great Blue Heron
- Scientific Name: Adrea herodias
- Diet: Fish, rodents.
- Habitat: Lakes and Marshland
- Lifespan: 15 years
- Size: 3.2 to 4.5 feet
- Weight: 4.6 to 5.5 pounds
- Wingspan: 6 Feet
The long-legged, majestic Great Blue Heron is notable on our list for being a fishing variety of blue bird! It is common to Michigan and remains there throughout the year. You’ll know a Great Blue Heron by the huge wingspan, bluish gray coloration, and white eye stripe, if the long legs don’t give it away!
The Great Blue Heron spends it’s time hunting for small fish in bodies of water, using it’s long legs to stalk through the shallows. It can also be found on golf courses or in the tall grasses, using that same yellow beak to snatch up mice and other rodents.
10. Belted Kingfisher
- Scientific Name: Megaceryle alcyon
- Diet: Fish
- Habitat: Lakelands, riversides
- Lifespan: 10 to 21 years
- Size: 13 inches
- Weight: 5.3 ounces
- Wingspan: 33 inches
Belted Kingfishers closely resemble a Blue Jay, both in coloration and the little spike of tufty feathers on its head. However, it is a bit less bright in coloration and is unique for it’s fishing lifestyle.
Belted Kingfishers can be distinguished in sex by looking for orange: females have rufous orange on their sides, which males do not have.
Belted Kingfishers live in Michigan all year round unless winter is particularly harsh, at which point they will head south so that they can keep fishing safely. When a Belted Kingfisher does hunt, it throws itself into the water headfirst to catch small fish near the surface!
11. Black Throated Blue Warbler
- Scientific Name: Setophaga caerulescens
- Diet: insects, berries
- Habitat: Forests
- Lifespan: 10 years
- Size: 13 cm (5.1 in) in length
- Weight: 8.4–12.4 g (0.30–0.44 oz)
- Wingspan: 7.5-7.9 in (19-20 cm).
The Black throated Blue warbler is certainly a striking type of bird to see, with blue and black feathers set off to bite white patches near the root of each primary feather! Males are typically intensely blue and black, but females and younger birds tend to have hints of green highlighting their plumage, too.
Their nesting months begin in May and finish out in August, which is when they can be seen in northern and central parts of North America, like Michigan! They like to eat insects, but in the fall, when berries are ripe, they are just as happy adding these to their diet, as well.
After the summer nesting months, the Black Throated Blue Warbler will fly to the Caribbean for winter and enjoy the warmer weather and hunting conditions.
12. Red Breasted Nuthatch
- Scientific Name: Sitta canadensis
- Diet: Insects and seeds
- Habitat: Coniferous forests and mountainous regions
- Lifespan: 6 years
- Size: 4.5 inches
- Weight: 0.35 ounces
- Wingspan: 8 inches
The small, Red-Breasted Nuthatch is a passerine bird with bluish, slate-gray feathers accented by creamy white. This same white coloration stripes its little face alongside black, which also adorns its tail feathers. The Red Breasted Nuthatch gets its name from the faint reddish tinges on its belly and underparts.
This bird technically counts as a songbird, and is noticeable because it has a unique trait of walking down the trunks of trees headfirst! This is thanks to the uniquely situated feet of the Red Breasted Nuthatch; it has a big toe which faces backwards.
The Red Breasted Nuthatch is also a romantic: they mate for life, and only usually have one brood of offspring per year.
The Red Breasted Nuthatch loves pines and coniferous forests, and it is able to dig under the bark of trees to get at insects and food during harsh winters.
13. Common Grackle
- Scientific Name: Quiscalus quiscula
- Diet: Corn, carrion, seeds, insects
- Habitat: Woodland, marshes, fields, crops.
- Lifespan: 17 years
- Size: 11 to 13 inches long
- Weight: 3.9 ounces
- Wingspan: 14 to 18 inches
The common grackle is distinguishable by its lean but long body, which, at first glance, may look mostly black or very dark, grayish brown. However, the Common Grackle’s head and neck, beginning with the upper part of the underbelly, is actually a deeply vibrant blue or indigo color, making its yellowish white eye seem particularly striking!
The common grackle, like most of its species, is a feisty and aggressive bird that loves to colonize in a big group and bully smaller birds out of meals. Not only is it opportunistic in this way, but the Common Grackle is a known pest when it comes to eating crops; particularly corn!
14. Brown Headed Cowbird
- Scientific Name: Molothrus Ater
- Diet: Seeds, insects
- Habitat: Pastures, Fields, Prairies, Orchards
- Lifespan: 16 years
- Size: 6.3 to 8.7 inches long
- Weight: 1.1 to 2.1 ounces
- Wingspan: 12 to 15 inches
Brown headed cowbirds are very aptly named! Their heads are a burly, bear-like brown, but the rest of their body is certainly a different matter. The brown headed cowbird can look black in a dull light, but in the best lights and particularly in the summer, the rest of their bodies are a deep, iridescent blueish purple color!
Though they are lovely to look at, it is interesting to note that they are actually a brood parasitic creature. What this means is that the Brown Headed Cowbird relies on other birds to raise their young! They will lay their eggs in the nests of others, allowing starlings, raptors, and even hummingbirds to raise their babies.
This is not the only instance in which the Brown Headed Cowbird cannot survive on its own. Technically, they rely on bison or even cows to generate food: Brown Headed Cowbirds will follow these larger animals to feed on the bugs surrounding or disturbed by them.
15. Malard Duck
- Scientific Name: Anas Platyrhynchos
- Diet: Stems, root, seeds, weeds, grasses, insects
- Habitat: Calm freshwater
- Lifespan: 5 to 10 years
- Size: 20 to 26 inches
- Weight: 1.6 to 3.5 pounds
- Wingspan: 2.7 to 3.2 feet
Last but not least on our list is the mallard duck! A common male duck, native to Michigan, is mostly a white , ranging to brown all over its body. However, the one exception, not counting orange feet and tangerine beak, is the mallard’s head!
The mallard’s head is an iridescent, greenish blue. This is to attract female ducks during the breeding season, which is in the summer and spring.
Their webbed feet allow them to swim smoothly along the surface of the water, though they can dive to retrieve food. They also vary in size and weight, and are opportunistic, omnivorous feeders!
Actually, ducks are quite intelligent, capable of being kept as pets and playing with toys, learning commands, and even enjoy being petted under the right circumstances.
In conclusion, there are 15 popular blue birds in Michigan. The state is home to swallows, like the Barn and tree Swallows, as well as fishing birds like the Great Blue Heron and Belted Kingfisher. Some are endangered, like the Cerulean Warbler, and some, like the common Duck, make up a big portion of the bird population in this state!
No matter which species or class of blue bird you are searching for, Michigan is home to some of the finest specimens, especially during the summer months!