Michigan's Great Lakes Coastline is Home to a Variety of Bird Species

Posted by Christy Caplan
American Robin

This list of birds of Michigan includes species accepted by the Michigan Bird Records Committee (MBRC). As of January 2020, there were 450 species included in their official list.

Many of Michigan's most productive birding sites are located along the Great Lakes coastline, and some are within the Detroit metropolitan area. We categorized the most popular birds by Michigan birding sites.

What birds are protected in Michigan?

According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, birds of conservation concern in Michigan that are endangered and threatened include:

  • Short-eared owl
  • Henslow's Sparrow
  • Common Tern

What birds are in Michigan?

Michigan designated "robin redbreast" (American robin) as the official state bird in 1931! Yet, what birds are found at all the various birding sites in Michigan?

The Audubon tells us that these bird species in Michigan are most often seen at popular birding sites.

Whitefish Point Bird Observatory

The observatory conducts counts of migrating geese, ducks, loons, grebes, shorebirds, and other waterbirds.

Pointe Mouillee State Game Area

"From spring through fall, birders find the American White Pelican, American Bittern, Least Bittern, Snowy Egret, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Osprey, Virginia Rail, Sora, Common Gallinule, Sandhill Crane, Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren, four species of terns, and an occasional ibis. Bobolink and Yellow-headed Blackbird are possible too."

Seney National Wildlife Refuge

"The Trumpeter Swan is one of the notable birds nesting at Seney, and Common Loons seem to be on every pond. Other species include the Ring-necked Duck, Hooded Merganser, Ruffed Grouse, Sharp-tailed Grouse, American Bittern, Osprey, Northern Harrier, Bald Eagle, Sandhill Crane, Wilson's Snipe, American Woodcock, Black-billed Cuckoo, Merlin, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, Gray Jay, Winter Wren, Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren, Magnolia Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Le Conte's Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Brewer's Blackbird, and Purple Finch."

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge

"Birds that nest in the refuge's wetlands include the Pied-billed Grebe, American Bittern, Least Bittern, Great Egret, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Virginia Rail, Sora, Common Gallinule, Caspian Tern, Black Tern, Sedge Wren, Marsh, Prothonotary Warbler, and Swamp Sparrow.

"Flocks of Sandhill Cranes rank among the highlights of Shiawassee. When winter arrives they depart, but Rough-legged Hawks, Long-eared Owls, Short-eared Owls, Northern Shrikes, Lapland Longspurs, Snow Buntings and Common Redpolls usually stick around."

Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve

"Many species of waterfowl winter or migrate through here, including the Trumpeter Swan, American Black Duck, Common Goldeneye, and Common Merganser. Nesting birds include the Wood Duck, Blue-winged Teal, American Bittern, Least Bittern, Green Heron, Virginia Rail, Sora, Sandhill Crane, Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren, and Swamp Sparrow.

"Four miles northwest (on Keillor Road) is the Dryhills Grassland area of Arcadia Dunes Nature Preserve. It holds a large population of Grasshopper Sparrows. Upland Sandpipers, Clay-colored Sparrows, Vesper Sparrows, Savannah Sparrows, Bobolinks, and Eastern Meadowlarks also nest here, and Sandhill Cranes are a fairly frequent visitor."

The 10 most-reported birds from the 2017 Great Backyard Bird Count include:

Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay, Mourning Dove, American Crow, European Starling, Dark-eyed Junco, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Tufted Titmouse, House Sparrow, House Finch, American Goldfinch, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, and the Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Other birds you'll see in Michigan?

Wild turkey, Snowy owl, Carolina Wren, Indigo Bunting, Eastern Kingbird, Cowbird, Hummingbird, Turkey Vulture, Mallards, Northern Flicker, Grosbeak, Piping Plover, Kirtland's Warbler, and Oriole

Have you ever seen or heard of these wild birds? Please leave us a comment below!

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Michigan's Great Lakes Coastline is Home to a Variety of Bird Species