Michigan Winter Birds: Common Winter Birds of Michigan (with Pictures)

Last Updated on February 28, 2022 by Lily Aldrin

Would you like to know what Michigan birds come to your yard in the winter? One of the pleasures of winter is watching the birds swarm to your feeders while sitting by the window with a hot beverage.

Learn about all of Michigan’s popular winter birds and how to attract more of them to your yard to offer you delight every day throughout the winter. According to bird checklists, these are the most often seen birds in Michigan in December and January.

Winter birds in Michigan differ from summer birds in that the Downy Woodpecker is more frequent, American Tree Sparrows are much more prevalent, and Red-breasted Nuthatches seem to be more frequent.

In this article, you will learn more about the winter birds that frequent feeders and backyards in Michigan, view photos, and learn how to attract more birds to your yard.

Downy WoodpeckerDowny Woodpecker
Northern CardinalNorthern Cardinal
Dark-Eyed JuncoDark-Eyed Junco
American GoldfinchAmerican Goldfinch
Blue JayBlue Jay
American CrowAmerican Crow
Song SparrowSong Sparrow
Tufted TitmouseTufted Titmouse
Mourning DoveMourning Dove
Northern FlickerNorthern Flicker
Hairy WoodpeckerHairy Woodpecker
House FinchHouse Finch
European StarlingEuropean Starling
House SparrowHouse Sparrow
Red-Bellied WoodpeckerRed-Bellied Woodpecker
White-breasted NuthatchWhite-breasted Nuthatch
Black Cap ChickadeeBlack Cap Chickadee
American RobinAmerican Robin
Common GrackleCommon Grackle
Eastern BluebirdsEastern Bluebirds

1. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Length & Weight

Downy Woodpecker ranges 5.5 to 7.1 inches in length, with weight lying between 0.7 ounces and 1.1 ounces. The wingspan varies in the range of 9.8 to 12.2 inches.

They are Northern America’s smallest woodpeckers. They are always among the first visitors to a fresh bird feeder, which may be found all year in Michigan.


The males’ heads have a distinctive red patch on the rear that makes it easy to distinguish them from females as it is not present in females. Both genders possess accented with gray heads, however, the Hairy Woodpecker has a smaller body.


These birds eat from almost any bird feeder. Their preferred meals are black sunflower seeds and strawberries.

2. Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Length & Weight

It is about 8.3 to 9.1 inches in length with a weight of approximately 1.5 to 1.7 ounces. The wingspan of the Northern Cardinals is about 8.9 to 12.2 inches.

Northern Cardinals are one of the most well-known backyard birds in Michigan and around North America.


Females of Northern Cardinal have lighter brown feathers while males have vivid red bodies. The distinctive Mohawks and red-orange beaks of both sexes make them immediately recognized.


These birds live in Michigan all year and like eating from large trays and hopper feeders. Their preferred meals are seeds and nuts such as black sunflower seeds.

3. Dark-Eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Length & Weight

Their body is from 5.5 to 6.3 inches long, with a 7.1 to 9.8 inches wingspan. The weight of Dark-Eyed Junco varies from 0.6 to 1.1 ounces.

Because Dark-Eyed Juncos migrate to Canada during the summer, they are considered winter birds in the United States.


The bodies are dark with a darker hue on top that fades into lighter grey and white as they approach the bottom. Females and immature Juncos, on the other hand, are buffy brown. Pink beaks are found in both sexes.


You may find these birds all year in Northern Michigan among forested regions and woods. Juncos like to comb the ground for food; hence they don’t attend feeders. Scattering seeds can be an efficient way to attract these birds.

4. American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

Length & Weight

The length of the American Goldfinch ranges from 4.3 to 5.5 inches, with a weight range from 0.39 ounces to 0.71 ounces. The wingspan of the American Goldfinch is between 7.5 to 8.7 inches.


Many birdwatchers like the American Goldfinch, often known as the wild canary, especially during the summer. The males have a brilliant lemon yellow color with a black crown and black wingtips in the summer, while olive or greyish-yellow feathers with brown bodies in winter.

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Like males in winter, females have olive or greyish-yellow feathers and brown bodies, making them appear duller. Chickadees are roughly the same size in both sexes. In Michigan, you may observe these birds all year and especially like thistle feeders.

5. Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Length & Weight

It varies between 8.6 and 1.8 inches in length with a weight of 2.5 ounces to 3.5 ounces.


The substantial fluffy blue crown that adorns the heads of Blue Jays gives them a unique appearance. Their upper bodies are mainly blue, while their lower parts are off-white.

These birds also have a black circle marking the outline of their neck, giving them a necklace-like appearance.


These birds are regular visitors to platform and peanut feeders throughout the year, as they are year-round residents of the whole state. They consume nuts, seeds, and berries after cracking them open.

6. American Crow

American Crow

Length & Weight

The size of the American Crow lies between 15.8 and 20.9 inches, with weight ranges from 11.2 to 21.9 ounces. The bird has about 33.5 to 39.4-inch wingspan.


The bodies of American Crows are entirely black. They’re big and have a distinctive cawing cry that many people would recognize.

Crows in the United States are also highly clever birds with outstanding problem-solving abilities. They like to stay high in the trees to have a bird’s eye perspective of their surroundings.


These birds are year-round inhabitants of Michigan’s state parks. Because of their enormous size, they are omnivorous and rarely frequent bird feeders.

7. Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Length & Weight

Song Sparrow and 7.1 to 9.4 inches of wingspan weight vary from 0.4 to 1.9 ounces.


These birds have mainly brown bodies with deep brown stripes on their pale undersides, comparable to other reddish sparrows. They may be found throughout North America, with different plumage depending on the area.

Male Song Sparrows use their distinct songs to entice females and protect their nests. They may be seen all year on Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.


They prefer to consume a variety of seeds; therefore, they visit tray and hopper bird feeders.

8. Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

Length & Weight

The size of these birds lies in the range of 5.5 to 6.3 inches in length and 7.9 to 10.2 inches of wingspan. Their weight ranges from 0.6 to 0.9 ounces.

In Michigan, these tiny birds are familiar visitors to backyards and feeders. They have unique tiny Mohawks, similar to the Northern Cardinal, that might help you identify them.


Tufted Titmice have silver bodies from the top and greyish white bodies from the bottom. A black mark can also be seen immediately above their black beaks.

You can find these birds all year on the Lower Peninsula. They are, however, uncommon on the Upper Peninsula.

9. Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

Length & Weight

The Mourning Dove is nearly 9.1 to 13.4 inches in length, male with a weight of 3.4 ounces to 6.0 ounces and female with 3.0 oz. to 5.5 ounces. The wingspan of Mourning Dove is 17.7-inches.

Mourning Doves, which are somewhat more extensive than American Robins, frequently hang from wires, fences, or trees. They may come to your tray feeder, but they’re more likely to be seen wandering about on the ground.


The grey bodies of these birds are topped with black markings. A distinctive cyan-colored ring encircles their eyes, and their undersides are a soft peach tint.


Although they use feeders, these doves prefer to forage for seeds on the ground. They are attracted to black sunflower seeds in tray feeders.

10. Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

Length & Weight

Their length lies from 10 to 12.2 inches having a wingspan ranges from 5 to 20.1 inches. The weight of these birds is between 9 and 5.6 ounces.

Northern Flickers may be seen in backyards all across the United States, not only in Michigan. They range in size from medium to giant and prefer to eat insects. As a result, they aren’t frequent feeders.


They are distinguished by a red patch on the back of their necks, black patches on their underparts, striped grey, and black wings, and an all-black headband. Bright orange Northern Flickers have yellow feathers on the underneath of their wings and are located in Michigan.

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These birds can be seen all year on the Lower Peninsula, but only during the mating season north of there. Consider installing a birdbath in your backyard if you want to attract these birds.

11. Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Length & Weight

These birds range from 1 to 10.2 inches in length and 1 0 to 16.1 inches of wingspan. Their weight is about 2. 4 ounces to 3.4 ounces.

Hairy Woodpeckers resemble Downy Woodpeckers in appearance but are bigger and lacking the red circle on the nape of the head. Throughout the year, both species can be spotted in the same locations of the state.


Although Hairy Woodpeckers do not visit bird feeders, they are drawn to seed and suet feeders.

12. House Finch

House Finch

Length & Weight

These birds vary in size from 4.9 to 6.1 inches, having a wingspan that ranges from 8.1 to 10.5 inches. The weight is between 0.6 ounces and 0.9 ounces.

The House Finch is another backyard bird that you may expect to see regularly in Michigan. Although becoming an exotic species, they aren’t as despised as House Sparrows since they aren’t as damaging.


These birds are exclusively found on the Lower Peninsula and may rush to your feeders in the form of horde and flocks. Their male has a reddish hue on their heads and chests and is simpler to recognize than females, who are all brown.


These birds are more likely than Goldfinches to attend feeders. Black sunflower seeds work well for luring them in.

13. European Starling

European Starling

Length & Weight

They vary in length from 7.9 to 9.1 inches and in weight from 2.1 to 3.4 ounces. They have a wingspan range of 12.2 to 15.8 inches.

European Starlings, which are frequently seen as pests, are prime examples of invasive species. They’ve taken the county by storm since then due to their extraordinary adaptive abilities.


Their beauty conceals their destructive tendencies as they damage other birds’ nests and murder their young. The dark-colored bodies of these birds generate a combination of purple, green, and blue iridescence in daylight, giving them a fascinating appearance.

Their beaks and feet are yellow and they have white patches on their wings and backs. They’re year-round residents who may be found all across the state.

Furthermore, their adaptability permits them to consume almost everything. You don’t need to provide any specific food to lure these birds; they’ll come to your backyard on their own.

14. House Sparrow

House Sparrow

Length & Weight

House sparrows have a length ranging from 5.9 to 6.7 inches and wingspan from 7.5 to 9.8 inches. They have a weight lying within the range of 0.9 to 1.1 ounces.

House Sparrows are typically seen as pests. Except for starlings, these are the only wild bird species in the United States that can be lawfully captured and put down painlessly.

They were also made available for free in New York, and they have now spread across the country.

The bodies of these invading birds are brown, with black and dark brown striping on the chests and wings. They’re year-round residents who may be found all across the state.

They’ll consume almost anything, putting native species at risk.

15. Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Length & Weight

These species of Woodpecker range in size from 9.2 to 10.3 inches and15.7 to 17.8 inches of wingspan. Their weight lies in between the capacity of 2.2 to 3.2 ounces.

These medium-sized woodpeckers are commonly observed in backyards and at bird feeders.


The crimson on their bodies is a beautiful stripe that goes down the back of their heads and the length of their necks. The majority of their tummy is white, with a red-washed patch visible if you look closely.

Their wings, which are adorned with distinctive black and white barring, are another distinguishing trait of these birds.


Lower Michigan is home to the majority of Red-bellied Woodpeckers. They prefer suet feeders, although they may occasionally visit seed feeders.

16. White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Length & Weight

White-Breasted 5.1 to 5.5 inches in length and 7.9 to 10.6 inches in wingspan. Their weight is approximately  0.6 ounces to 1.1 ounces.

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The White-Breasted Nuthatch is a famous backyard bird in Michigan, and you may find it all year round. Nuthatches are so named because they bury nuts beneath tree bark and then hatch them out with their sharp beaks.

A prominent black band on the top of their heads as well as a whitish face and belly help to identify these birds.


These birds will eat from almost any bird feeder. Their preferred meals are black sunflower seeds and insects.

17. Black Cap Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

Length & Weight

They vary from 7 to 5.9 inches in length and 3 to 8.3 inches in wingspan. Their weight is from 3 ounces to 0.5 ounces.


These small birds are visible all year and feature a black cap and bib that contrasts sharply with their white faces. The remainder of their physique is a mixture of black and white.


When you place a new tube, tray, or hopper feeder in your yard, Black-Capped Chickadees will be one of the first birds to greet you. Seeds, particularly black sunflower seeds, insects, and berries, are favorites.

18. American Robin

American Robin

Length & Weight

They are approximately 9.0 to 11.0 inches in length and 14.7 to 16.5 inches in wingspan. They vary 2.3 to 2.8 ounces in weight.

The American Robin is not just a famous backyard visitor but Michigan’s state bird. Its greyish-brown body is contrasted with a rusty orange underbelly and a matching beak.


These birds prefer worms and other tiny invertebrates. They aren’t keen on seeds; therefore, they don’t frequent feeders. To encourage them to your yard, you can utilize mealworms and fruiting plants. Insects, berries, and seeds, particularly black sunflower seeds, are favorites.

19. Common Grackle

Common Grackle

Length & Weight

The size of Common Grackle varies in length from 11.0 to 13.4 inches and 14.2 to 18.1 inches in wingspan. They have a weight range of 2.6 to 5.0 ounces.

Grackles, like starlings, belong to the bully bird family, yet their shimmering feathers make them extremely attractive in the proper light. They are mostly black and they will lodge with some other blackbird species, sometimes in massive flocks of millions. Their uniform coloration and yellow ringed eye make them simple to spot.

Except for a tiny part of southern Michigan, where they live all year, grackles are only seen in Michigan during the mating season.


Grackles are foragers and eat almost anything; they are frequently seen as pests.

20. Eastern Bluebirds

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebirds can be seen throughout the year in Michigan but they are more numerous in the winter.


Tiny thrushes with huge eyes and bellies, Eastern Bluebirds are small thrushes. The males have a deep blue back and a crimson underbelly. Females have a fuzzier head with azure wings and tail as well as a less vivid reddish breast.

Habitat & Food

They dwell in meadows and can be seen hunting for insects perched on wires, poles, or low trees. Bluebirds seldom visit feeders, but they adore live mealworms. It may seem disgusting, but that tiny wiggle sends the Bluebirds dancing all the way to your yard. They could also utilize nest boxes, so put one up as soon as possible and maintain it clean.

Final Words

While the species shown in this article are among the most common birds seen in Michigan backyards during the winter, there are a number of others. All you have to do is keep your eyes open and use the facts and descriptions to identify the difference.


Do blue jays and cardinals go south for the winter?

Contrary to common perception not all birds fly during the wintertime. Chickadees, nuthatches, cardinals, and blue jays, for example, may have been seen in your backyard this winter. The majority of birds will migrate south in order to survive and then return north to breed.

In Michigan, what do you feed the winter birds?

Thistle seed and black oil sunflower seed are all excellent sources of nutritious value for a variety of species. Put these into tube or sock feeders and scatter seed mixes or cracked corn on the floor or in podium feeders. Suet is also necessary for the wintertime.

About Lily Aldrin

I am Lily Aldrin. I attended Cornell University, where I obtained my degree to become an Ornithologist so I could pursue my love of these magnificent creatures in and out of their natural habitats.