Top 15 Types Of Black Birds In Michigan (with Photos)

When it comes to exploring the diverse avian population in Michigan, one cannot overlook the intriguing array of black birds that grace the state’s skies. From the familiar American Crow to the less commonly observed Evening Grosbeak, Michigan offers a habitat for a variety of black-feathered species.

Whether you are an avid bird enthusiast or simply curious about the fascinating world of avifauna, this discussion will shed light on the different types of black birds that call Michigan their home. Prepare to be captivated by the mysteries and wonders that these winged creatures possess, as we embark on a journey through the fascinating depths of Michigan’s black bird population.

American Crow

The American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) is a large, highly intelligent bird species native to Michigan and known for its distinctive black plumage and loud, cawing calls. These birds are part of the Corvidae family, which includes other intelligent species like ravens and jays.

American Crows are approximately 17 to 21 inches long, with a wingspan of about 33 to 39 inches. They have a robust build and a slightly curved bill, which they use to forage for food. Their diet consists of a wide range of items, including fruits, seeds, insects, small mammals, and even carrion.

American Crows are highly adaptable and can be found in various habitats, from forests to urban areas. They often form large flocks and are known to interact with other species, such as the common grackle. These two black birds can often be seen together, foraging and communicating with each other.

The American Crow’s intelligence is well-documented, with studies showing their ability to solve complex problems and use tools. They are also known for their vocalizations, which include a variety of calls, including their characteristic cawing.

Common Grackle

Interacting closely with the American Crow, the Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) is another black bird species found in Michigan, known for its adaptability and distinct vocalizations.

The Common Grackle is a medium-sized bird, measuring between 12 and 13 inches in length, with a wingspan of approximately 18 inches. Its plumage is predominantly black, but it also displays iridescent hues of blue and purple, especially when viewed in direct sunlight.

This species is commonly found in urban and suburban areas, as well as agricultural fields, where it forages for insects, seeds, fruits, and even small vertebrates.

The Common Grackle is highly social and often forms large flocks, especially during the non-breeding season. Its vocalizations consist of a variety of calls, including a high-pitched squeak and a distinct grating sound, which gives the bird its name.

Despite its black appearance, the Common Grackle is a fascinating species with its unique adaptation and vocal abilities, making it a notable addition to the black bird species found in Michigan.

Red-winged Blackbird

The Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) is a common black bird species found in Michigan, known for its striking red and yellow shoulder patches and distinct mating display.

These birds have fascinating migration patterns, with most individuals spending their winters in the southern United States and Central America, and returning to Michigan in the spring. During migration, they form large flocks and travel long distances to reach their breeding grounds.

Red-winged Blackbirds are typically found nesting in wetlands, marshes, and grassy areas near water sources. They build their nests by weaving together grasses and other plant materials, often hidden among the reeds or cattails.

Female Red-winged Blackbirds lay 3-5 eggs, and both parents take turns incubating them. Once hatched, the parents work together to feed and protect their young until they fledge and become independent.

Common Raven

With its impressive size and distinctive croaking call, the Common Raven (Corvus corax) is a highly intelligent and adaptable black bird species found in Michigan. The Common Raven is known for its complex behavior and nesting habits. It is a social bird that often forms long-term pair bonds and exhibits cooperative breeding, where non-breeding individuals assist in raising the young. Common Ravens are highly opportunistic feeders and have a diverse diet, ranging from small mammals and birds to carrion and plant matter.

When compared to other black bird species in Michigan, such as the Red-winged Blackbird, the Common Raven stands out for its larger size and robust build. While the Red-winged Blackbird is known for its territorial nature and flashy red and yellow wing patches, the Common Raven is more solitary and has a more varied diet. Both species, however, contribute to the rich diversity of black birds in Michigan and play important roles in the ecosystem.

Brown-headed Cowbird

Another notable black bird species found in Michigan is the Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater), distinguished by its unique breeding behavior. The Brown-headed Cowbird is a brood parasite, meaning it lays its eggs in the nests of other bird species. This behavior allows the cowbird to forgo the responsibility of raising its own young and instead rely on other bird species to raise its offspring. This strategy has led to an interesting relationship between the cowbird and its hosts. While some bird species have adapted to recognize and reject cowbird eggs, others unknowingly raise cowbird chicks as their own.

In terms of bird migration patterns, the Brown-headed Cowbird is a short-distance migratory species. They typically spend the breeding season in Michigan and other parts of the Northern United States and Southern Canada, and then migrate southwards for the winter months. During migration, they form large flocks and can be seen in open fields, agricultural areas, and forest edges.

The Brown-headed Cowbird is a fascinating species that showcases unique breeding behavior and plays a role in the complex web of bird interactions within the Michigan ecosystem.

Brewer’s Blackbird

Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) is a common and widespread black bird species found in Michigan. These birds inhabit a variety of habitats, including open fields, agricultural areas, and urban environments. They are adaptable and can be seen foraging on the ground or perching on fences and trees. Brewer’s Blackbirds have a diverse diet that includes insects, seeds, fruits, and grains.

During the breeding season, Brewer’s Blackbirds form loose colonies and build cup-shaped nests made of grass and twigs. Males display courtship behaviors to attract females, such as puffing their feathers and singing complex songs. Vocalizations are an important aspect of their communication, and they use a variety of calls to communicate with each other and defend their territories.

Rusty Blackbird

The next black bird species found in Michigan is the Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus), which shares some similarities with Brewer’s Blackbird. The Rusty Blackbird is predominantly found in wooded wetland habitats, such as swamps, bogs, and marshes. During the breeding season, they can also be found in upland forests and open woodlands.

Rusty Blackbirds are migratory birds, and their migration patterns are characterized by long-distance movements. They breed in northern North America, including parts of Michigan, and then migrate to the southeastern United States and Central America for the winter.

Unfortunately, the Rusty Blackbird population has been declining rapidly over the past few decades. The primary reasons for this decline are habitat loss and degradation, as well as the loss of wetland habitats. Conservation efforts are underway to protect and restore their habitats and raise awareness about their population decline. These efforts include wetland conservation projects, targeted research, and citizen science initiatives.

European Starling

The European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) is a widely distributed black bird species in Michigan. It is known for its adaptive behavior and impressive vocal abilities. This invasive species was introduced to North America in the late 1800s and has since become one of the most abundant and widespread birds on the continent.

European Starlings have a glossy black plumage with iridescent purple and green hues. They have a short, triangular-shaped bill and a medium-sized body, measuring about 7-8 inches in length. These birds are highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, including urban areas, agricultural fields, and woodlands.

They are known for their synchronized flocking behavior, forming large groups that can number in the thousands. European Starlings are also accomplished mimics, capable of imitating the songs of other birds and even human-made sounds. Their vocal abilities are often showcased during elaborate courtship displays.

In Michigan, European Starlings can be found throughout the state, including cities, suburbs, and rural areas. Their adaptability and vocal prowess have made them a successful and recognizable black bird species in Michigan.

Yellow-headed Blackbird

With its striking yellow head and sleek black plumage, the Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) is a distinct and captivating species found in Michigan. This medium-sized blackbird is known for its vibrant yellow head, throat, and breast, contrasting with its dark body.

The Yellow-headed Blackbird is primarily found in wetland habitats, such as marshes, sloughs, and meadows, where it can forage for insects and seeds. These birds are also known to nest in cattails and other emergent vegetation near water sources.

The Yellow-headed Blackbird is a migratory species, spending its breeding season in Michigan and other parts of North America and then wintering in the southern United States and Mexico. They typically arrive in Michigan in early spring and depart in late summer or early fall, joining large flocks to migrate south. During migration, they can be seen in agricultural areas and open fields, where they feed on grains and seeds.

Orchard Oriole

Another black bird species found in Michigan is the Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius), known for its vibrant plumage and unique nesting habits. The Orchard Oriole is a small blackbird with a contrasting chestnut color on its underparts. Its wings and tail feathers are black, and the male has a black head with a distinctive reddish-brown patch on its shoulder. This species is primarily found in open woodlands, orchards, and forest edges, where it feeds on insects, fruits, and nectar.

The Orchard Oriole is a migratory bird, spending its breeding season in North America and wintering in Central and South America. It arrives in Michigan in late April or early May and leaves by September. During its migration, the Orchard Oriole faces various threats, including habitat loss and degradation. Conservation efforts for this species focus on preserving its breeding and wintering habitats, as well as promoting the planting of native trees and shrubs that provide food and shelter. By protecting these habitats, we can ensure the survival of the Orchard Oriole and its important ecological role as a seed disperser and insect predator.

Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius)
Average Length 6.3-7.1 inches
Wingspan 8.7-9.4 inches
Weight 0.5-0.7 ounces

Baltimore Oriole

The Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) is a vibrant black bird species commonly found in Michigan, known for its bold orange and black plumage. These striking birds are known for their distinct songs and can be found nesting in deciduous forests, parks, and suburban areas throughout the state.

The Baltimore Oriole is a migratory bird, spending its summers in Michigan and then migrating to Central and South America for the winter. Their migration patterns are fascinating, as they travel thousands of miles to reach their wintering grounds. During migration, these orioles rely on food sources such as fruits, nectar, and insects.

The Baltimore Oriole’s ability to navigate long distances is a testament to its remarkable instinct and adaptability.

Purple Finch

The Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus) is a species of black bird that can be found in various habitats throughout Michigan. This small bird, measuring about 15 cm in length, is known for its vibrant plumage, with males displaying a reddish-purple hue on their head and upper body. The table below provides further details on the purple finch’s migration patterns and nesting habits.

Migration Patterns Nesting Habits
Purple finches are migratory birds, breeding in the northern parts of Michigan during the summer and then migrating southward for the winter. They build cup-shaped nests made of twigs, grasses, and rootlets, often placing them in the branches of coniferous trees like spruces. The female lays an average of 4-5 pale blue eggs, which she incubates for about 12-14 days. Both parents take turns feeding the chicks until they are ready to fledge, which typically happens after 10-14 days.

The purple finch’s migration patterns allow it to take advantage of different food sources and breeding grounds throughout the year. Its nesting habits are well-suited for the forested areas of Michigan, where it can find suitable trees to build its nests and raise its young.

Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak, a species of black bird commonly found in Michigan, is known for its distinctive red plumage and robust size. The scientific name of this bird is Pinicola enucleator. Adult males are mainly red, while females and juveniles have a more mottled gray-brown appearance.

Pine Grosbeaks are known to inhabit coniferous forests, especially during the winter months when they often migrate in search of food. Their diet primarily consists of various types of seeds, berries, and insects. These birds have a strong beak, which allows them to crack open the hard shells of seeds and extract their contents.

Pine Grosbeaks are highly social and often travel in flocks, making them a delight for birdwatchers to observe. Despite being a black bird, their vibrant red plumage adds a colorful touch to Michigan’s avian diversity.

Black-capped Chickadee

The Black-capped Chickadee is a common species of bird found in Michigan, known for its distinct black cap and white cheeks. These small birds are about 5 inches in length and weigh around 10 grams. They can be easily identified by their black bib and grayish-blue wings.

Black-capped Chickadees are cavity nesters, meaning they build their nests in tree cavities or abandoned woodpecker holes. They line their nests with soft materials such as moss, fur, and feathers. These birds are also known to use nest boxes if provided.

In terms of diet, Black-capped Chickadees are primarily insectivorous but also consume seeds and berries. They forage for insects by probing crevices in tree bark or snatching them in mid-air. They store food in small caches and have an impressive memory, allowing them to locate their hidden food sources during the winter months when food is scarce.

Evening Grosbeak

Evening Grosbeaks, with their vibrant plumage and distinctive beaks, are a notable species of bird found in Michigan. These beautiful birds belong to the finch family and are known for their large, powerful beaks that allow them to easily crack open seeds and fruits. The Evening Grosbeak is primarily found in coniferous forests, where they feed on the seeds of pine cones and other tree species.

One interesting aspect of Evening Grosbeaks is their bird migration patterns. These birds are known to be highly nomadic, often moving in search of abundant food sources. During the winter months, they may travel long distances from their breeding grounds in Canada to reach areas with ample food supply, including Michigan. This migratory behavior allows them to adapt to changing environmental conditions and ensure their survival.

To further understand the Evening Grosbeak’s migration patterns, let’s take a look at the table below:

Migration Period Departure Location Destination
Spring Southern US Canada
Fall Canada Southern US

During the spring, Evening Grosbeaks depart from their wintering grounds in the southern United States and migrate to their breeding grounds in Canada. In the fall, they make the return journey, traveling from Canada back to the southern United States. This cyclic movement allows them to take advantage of the seasonal availability of food resources in different regions.

About the author

I'm Gulshan, a passionate pet enthusiast. Dive into my world where I share tips, stories, and snapshots of my animal adventures. Here, pets are more than just animals; they're heartbeats that enrich our lives. Join our journey!