Discover 12 Blue Birds in Michigan

Written by Niccoy Walker
Published: December 31, 2022
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Birding in Michigan is a popular pastime, and the state offers many opportunities, from national parks and trails to the Great Lakes Coastline. Whether you are a beginner birder or like to casually view birds at your feeder, this handy guide will help you identify blue birds in Michigan. Discover where they live, what they eat, and how they sound.

Tree Swallow

Types of Birds that are Blue - Tree Swallow
The tree swallow’s plumage is bluish-green above and white below with brownish-black wings and tails.

©Tom Reichner/Shutterstock.com

Habitat: You can find tree swallows throughout Michigan during the breeding season in spring and summer. They live in open country areas near water, such as marshes, lakes, and meadows.

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How to Identify: They are relatively small songbirds with long, pointed wings and notched tails. Their plumage is bluish-green above and white below with brownish-black wings and tails.

Diet: Insects, berries, and seeds

Vocalizations: High-pitched chirps and gurgles

Nest: A cup of grass placed in holes in dead trees

Barn Swallow

Two Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) sitting on a branch.
Barn swallows breed throughout Canada and the United States, including Michigan.

©CezaryKorkosz/Shutterstock.com

Habitat: The barn swallow breeds throughout Canada and the United States, including Michigan. This species is common around human habitations, like parks, baseball fields, farms, and beaches.

How to Identify: It is slightly larger than the tree swallow and features a flat head, broad shoulders, and pointed wings. They are deep steely blue above with rufous-colored underparts.

Diet: Insects, spiders, snails, berries, and seeds

Vocalizations: Twitter warbles and mechanical whirrs

Nest: A cup of mud and dried grass under eaves or open buildings

Purple Martin

Birds that eat bees: Purple Martin
The purple martin is an acrobatic hunter, capable of catching bees while in full dive.

©iStock.com/Jeff Huth

Habitat: The purple martin spends its springs and summers in the Great Lakes state and throughout the eastern half of the country. You can find them in towns, farms, mountain forests, and many other common semi-open areas.

How to Identify: Despite its name, purple martins are dark bluish-purple, and iridescent. And their wings and tails are brownish-black. They are large birds with broad chests, tapered wings, and forked tails.

Diet: Insects and spiders

Vocalizations: Throaty chirps and rattles

Nest: A cup made of leaves and grass placed in old woodpecker holes

Indigo Bunting

A male indigo bunting perched up on bare branch against a green background. As it's name suggests, the bird is vivid blue.
The indigo bunting lives in brushy pastures and wood wedges, where they eat seeds and insects.

©John L. Absher/Shutterstock.com

Habitat: Another breeding bird in Michigan, the indigo bunting inhabits the state during spring and summer. You can find them in brushy pastures, wood edges, and roadsides.

How to Identify: The male’s summer plumage is all blue, with the head darker than the body. It also features a silver beak and dark streaks on its wings and tail. They are relatively small and stocky with short, thick bills and round tails.

Diet: Seeds and insects

Vocalizations: Clear, high-pitched notes and short “chip” calls

Nest: Open grass cup in dense shrubs or trees

Northern Parula

Northern Parula
The northern parula is a small warbler that lives in forest canopies during summer and tropical plantations in the winter.

©Nattapong Assalee/Shutterstock.com

Habitat: Most northern parulas pass through Michigan during migration. But small groups breed near the Great Lakes. Look for them in humid woods, coniferous forests, and swamps.

How to Identify: These small warblers have short tails and thin bills. They are bluish-gray above and white below with bright yellow chests and throats and some black streaking on the wings.

Diet: Insects, spiders, larvae, and berries

Vocalizations: Buzzy trills and sharp chips

Nest: Small hanging pouch in tree lichens

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

A close up of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Its long tailfeathers contain both black and white feathers.
The blue-gray gnatcatcher is tiny and slim and features light bluish-gray plumage and mostly black tails.

©iStock.com/JasonOndreicka

Habitat: You can find blue-gray gnatcatcher breeding populations in northern Michigan. Find them in open woods, deciduous forests, and thickets.

How to Identify: They are tiny and slim with long legs and long tails. These birds are pale bluish-gray with light gray to white underparts and mostly black tails.

Diet: Insects and spiders

Vocalizations: Continuous sharp chips and nasal calls

Nest: Open grass cup in a tree

Blue Jay

Blue jay perched on branch with back to camera
Blue jays are large songbirds with crests and long tails. They live in common areas, like towns and suburban gardens.

©iStock.com/BrianEKushner

Habitat: They live year-round in the eastern United States, including all over Michigan. You can find them in woodlands, groves, towns, suburbs, gardens, and many other areas near humans.

How to Identify: Blue jays are pretty large songbirds with crests and long, rounded tails. Their plumage is a mix of various shades of blue, black, and white.

Diet: Seeds, grains, nuts, berries, small fruits, insects, rodents, reptiles, baby birds, and carrion

Vocalizations: Quiet clicks and loud jeers

Nest: A bulky twig cup placed in the fork of a tree

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatches are permanent residents in Michigan and throughout most of the United States.

©Brian Lasenby/Shutterstock.com

Habitat: They are a permanent resident in Michigan and throughout most of the United States. They live in forests, woodlots, mature deciduous forests, and groves.

How to Identify: A small songbird with a large head, the white-breasted nuthatch has short tails and a long bill. They have bluish-gray backs, white undersides and throats, and black caps.

Diet: Insects and seeds

Vocalizations: Rapid, nasal “wha-wha”

Nest: A bark fiber cup in a tree cavity

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Black-throated Blue Warbler, Blue, Grand Bend, Ontario - Canada, Warbler
The black-throated blue warbler is well-proportioned and features dark blue, white, and black plumage.

©iStock.com/BrianLasenby

Habitat: The black-throated blue warbler migrates through the state and breeds in the northern tip near the Great Lakes. You can find them in the interior of mixed forests, where they like to breed in undisturbed areas.

How to Identify: These small, plump birds have well-proportioned bodies and pointed bills. Males are streaky dark blue above and white below with black throats and bills.

Diet: Insects, seeds, berries, and flower nectar

Vocalizations: Slow-paced buzzy notes

Nest: Open cup of bark in thick shrubs

Eastern Bluebird

Happiest Animals: Bluebird
A bluebird can spot caterpillars and insects in tall grass at the remarkable distance of over 50 yards.

©Bonnie Taylor Barry/Shutterstock.com

Habitat: As its name suggests, the eastern bluebird lives in the eastern half of the country, where it spends springs and summers in Michigan during the breeding season. You will find them in open country areas with scattered trees, like farms and forest clearings.

How to Identify: This small thrush has a large, round head with big eyes and short tails. Males are bright blue above, white underneath, and rusty brown on their chests.

Diet: Insects and berries

Vocalizations: Low-pitched warbles and harsh chatters

Nest: A weed cup placed in a tree cavity

Belted Kingfisher

Belted kingfisher
Belted kingfishers live year-round in southern Michigan and spend springs and summers in the northern areas.

©Horse Crazy/Shutterstock.com

Habitat: The belted kingfisher lives year-round in southern Michigan and breeds in northern portions of the state. They live in many aquatic habitats, such as streams, lakes, bays, and coasts.

How to Identify: This stocky bird has a large head and a shaggy crest. They feature bluish-gray plumage on their heads, backs, and chests. And their necks and undersides are white with hints of brown.

Diet: Fish, frogs, aquatic insects, small mammals, and lizards

Vocalizations: Mechanical rattles and harsh screams

Nest: Tunnels in steep dirty banks

Common Grackle

Common Grackle
The IUCN lists the common grackle as NC or “near threatened.” This species is undergoing a continuous decline in its population. They live in Michigan during spring and summer.

©JoshCW Photo/Shutterstock.com

Habitat: The common grackle breeds throughout most of Michigan, but some populations live year-round in the far southern regions. Look for them in farms, towns, groves, and streamsides.

How to Identify: Large and lanky, the common grackle features long legs and long tails. They have shiny blue and green heads and iridescent bronze bodies.

Diet: Insects, fish, frogs, lizards, eggs, and small rodents

Vocalizations: Squeaks, whistles, and croaks

Nest: Bulky weed cup in dense tree branches

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The Featured Image

Common Grackle
The common grackle forages on the ground, in shallow water, or shrubs and trees.
© Holly S. Cannon/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer and content creator focusing on nature, wildlife, food, and travel. She graduated Kappa Beta Delta from Florida State College with a business degree before realizing writing was her true passion. She lives in the Triangle area and enjoys hiking, reading, and cooking!

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Sources
  1. Michigan.gov, Available here: https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/things-to-do/wildlife-viewing/birding