Last Updated on September 13, 2021 by Guillermina
Attention all birders of the Great Lake State. Our latest birding article is all about small birds in Michigan and how to identify them.
We’re here with a brand new feature on birds – as promised. And this time, we’re going all out on the tiny birds native to Michigan. As always, we’re going to list out some of the most popular pint-sized avifauna common to the state, but that’s not all. We’re also going to focus on identifying features so you can tell one bird from another without needing any pictures of Michigan birds. Oh, and there are also pointers on how to attract said birds to your backyard. All you need to do is grab a comfy seat and continue reading!
Small Birds In Michigan And How To Identify Them
Believe it or not, there are around 450+ avian species in the state of Michigan. Many of those species qualify as small birds, but we won’t be able to cover them all here due to time and space constraints. Don’t let that put you off, though. After all, where else will you find vetted information, identifying characteristics, and valuable tips to attract avifauna – all rolled into one!
1. Eastern Bluebird
We’re kicking off our compendium with one of the most adorable small birds out there, aka the Eastern Bluebird. The species’ scientific name is Sialia sialis, and they can range anywhere between 6.2 to 8.3 inches in length. Their wingspan, however, is no less than 9.8 to 12.6 inches.
As to identification, with a name like Bluebird, what else can this species be except a stunning azure? They also have dull-orange bellies, which tend to complement the blue really well. Other features include tiny legs, cute little eyes, and a short, black bill.
Aside from their looks, Eastern bluebirds are also accomplished songbirds. In fact, males of the species can belt out up to 1000 sings per hour to attract a mate. Their song consists of several phrases, with anywhere from one to three short notes. Though you may hear a harsh note here or there, their songs are mainly low-pitched.
The species are omnivores but like chowing down on things like mealworms and seeds. If you’re looking to invite an Eastern Bluebird or two to your backyard – try filling up a tray feeder with an assortment of mealworms and watch the magic happen.
2. House Finch
Did you know that a House Finch can drink up to 40% of its body weight in water – on a hot day? That’s not the only remarkable thing about this bird.
Scientifically known as the Haemorhous mexicanus, a House Finch clocks in at 5.5 inches in length. The wingspan of the species can range anywhere between 7.9 to 9.8 inches.
Even though House Finches are super common in the lower point of Michigan, they’re not native to the state. The species were captured (illegally) from California in the 40s and were released on Long Island by the dealers when they feared prosecution. Since then, the species seem to have taken over the east too.
In size and shape, the species have relatively large beaks for their flattish heads. Their wings aren’t as expansive as other birds of the same size, and they have notched tails. The males of the species are a fantastic shade of red (between ermine and rose) around the upper breast, face, and rump. Females, on the other hand, are a plain brown hue with streaks on the belly.
House Finches prefer eating weed seeds, berries, and small fruits (whenever they can find them). Although, they’re also known to eat small insects like aphids.
3. Downy Woodpecker
Of all the types of birds in Michigan, the Downy Woodpecker (aka Picoides pubescens) comes pretty close to being our favorite. They measure around 5.5 to 6.6 inches in length and have a wingspan of 9.8 to 11.8 inches.
This species has white and black feathers. Its chest, stomach, and back are all black, whereas its ebony wings have white spots. Only the male of the species has a bright red patch on their heads. The females are identified through the white stripes on the sides of their heads.
Downy Woodpeckers also have phenomenal hearing; the sense of sound is so sharp they can even hear grub eating the wood inside the tree’s cavity. They’re also extremely easy to lure to backyards. All you need to do is fill up your bird feeder with sunflower or mixed seeds, or even better, suet.
4. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Drumroll, please. Our favorite bird out of all the birds native to Michigan is the Archilochus colubris, aka the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. These tiny little flashes of color grow no more than 2.8 to 3.4 inches in length, and their wingspan measure 3.1 to 4.2 inches.
Even though these birdies are abundantly found in the eastern U.S, they’re always pleasant to behold. The males and females of the species have emerald hues that almost glimmer under the sun—however, only the males sport the bright ruby-red stripe on their ne8cks.
This species is pretty common in Michigan from spring to fall, and won’t hesitate to visit your backyard if you put out nectar feeders.
If you’re interested in reading up on more exciting species of small birds in Michigan, try searching for Tufted titmouse, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted nuthatch, and of course, the American Goldfinch. There’s no shortage of vivid and attractive avifauna in the Great Lake State. However, not all of them would qualify as small.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the species picked out. We certainly had a good time researching them. While we’ve helped you out with tips to help attract certain species to your backyard, don’t forget to take precautions to make the area safe for the birds.
For example, be mindful of keeping your pet cats away from all areas you’ve set up feeders on if you don’t want a fox-in-the-henhouse kind of situation. It’s also a good idea to stop using harmful pesticides and other chemical compounds around the area of your feeders because they can be extremely dangerous for birds.
Finally, don’t forget to take some pictures and post them here with your comments. We’d love to see the kind of birdlife you’ve managed to attract to your porch. Remember, sharing is caring.