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13 Blue Birds in Michigan (with Photos)

Michigan, located in the midwestern United States is home to beautiful national parks and charming coastal towns along Great Lakes. In these beautiful landscapes lives a variety of wildlife, including several species of blue birds. This article will detail 13 of the most common blue birds found in Michigan. 

13 Blue Birds in Michigan

There are several species of blue bird in Michigan, including the eastern bluebird, blue jay, indigo bunting, barn swallow, blue-gray gnatcatcher, tree swallow, black-throated blue warbler, purple martin, belted kingfisher, northern parula, cerulean warbler, great blue heron and tufted titmouse.

1. Indigo Bunting

Indigo bunting male
Indigo Bunting (male) | image by NPS | N. Lewis via Flickr

Scientific Name: Passerina cyanea

Indigo buntings are small songbirds measuring between 4.7 and 5.1 inches. They are neotropical migrants who spend winters in Central and South America and migrate to North America for the breeding season. So in Michigan, they arrive in the spring and stay until late summer. Look for them in brushy, overgrown areas like woodland edge and fields near streams and rivers.

During the breeding season, the males of this species are striking birds with vibrant blue plumage all over. Females and immature birds are a warm brown with pale underparts. Once breeding season is over, males loose a lot of their blue plumage so Michigan is lucky to see them during their most colorful period!

2. Eastern Bluebird

Eastern bluebird
Eastern bluebird (male) | author:

Scientific Name: Sialia sialis

Male eastern bluebirds have bright blue upperparts, a rusty-red breast, and a white belly. Females have similar coloration but with a slightly duller appearance. Bluebirds eat mainly insects during the summer. They like to perch in low branches and quickly dart to the ground, snatch their prey, and fly back to their perch.

The eastern bluebird is found year-round in the southeastern US but migrates further north to Michigan during the breeding season. They can be seen in Michigan from April to August. 

3. Blue Jay

Blue Jay (Image: 272447 |

Scientific Name: Cyanocitta cristata

One year-round blue bird in Michigan is the blue jay. Blue jays are known for their vibrant blue coloration on their upper-parts and crest, with white underparts. They have a black collar around their necks, and their wings and tail feathers are also blue with black barring.

Blue jays can be found throughout the entire state and are common visitors to backyard feeders, especially those stocked with nuts, seeds, and suet. These jays are known for their intelligence, various vocalizations, and even for imitating the sound of hawks! 

4. Barn Swallow

Barn swallow
Barn swallow | Image: popo.uw23 (flickr)

Scientific Name: Hirundo rustica

Barn swallows have long, pointed wings with deep navy blue feathers along their heads, backs, and wings. They have rusty-red throats and foreheads with pale orange underparts. They nest underneath human-made structures like sheds, bridges, under the eaves of buildings, and barns, hence their name.

These blue birds spend their winters in Central and South America but can be seen in Michigan during the breeding season from April to September. Swallows are insect eaters, and like to catch their prey in open fields and meadows. 

5. Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray gnatcatcher
Blue-gray gnatcatcher | image by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Polioptila caerulea

The tiny blue-gray gnatcatcher has grayish-blue along their upper body, a white underbody, and a long, thin black tail. They have a distinctive white eye ring and a black stripe extending from the eye to the bill like an eyebrow.

The males and females have similar plumage, but males may have slightly more intense blue-gray coloring. These birds can be found in Michigan, especially the southern from spring to early fall. Insects are their primary food, and they search for them among leaves, branches and buds of trees. Look for this tiny bird actively moving through the branches of tall trees. 

6. Tree Swallow

Tree swallow
Tree Swallow | image by USFWS Mountain Prairie via Flickr

Scientific Name: Tachycineta bicolor

Tree Swallows have bright, iridescent blue-green plumage along their heads and backs with white throats and bellies. They have a slender body, long wings, and a slightly forked tail.

Tree swallows are fairly common throughout Michigan during the breeding season, which is from April or May to early fall. They spend the winter months on the southeastern US coasts and in Central and South America. They readily nest in bird houses and are typically found in the same areas as bluebirds.  

7. Black-Throated Blue Warbler

Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler | image: Kelly Colgan Azar | Flickr | CC 2.0

Scientific Name: Setophaga caerulescens

The black-throated blue warbler is a migratory bird found in Michigan during the breeding season. The males have blue heads and back with black plumage on their faces and throats. The females are not as vibrant, trading the blue and black coloring for grayish-olive feathers.

Black-throated blue warblers arrive in Michigan in late April or May, building cup-shaped nests in shrubs or small trees. The female lays 3-5 eggs, which are incubated by both parents, and both parents feed and care for the chicks until they fledge. Rather than spending their time in the treetops, they prefer to search for insects in the understory and lower canopy, so they are slightly easier to find than other warbler species. 

8. Purple Martin

Purple martin male
Purple Martin | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Progne subis

Another migratory blue bird found in Michigan is the purple martin. Despite the name, purple martins appear more of a dark navy blue with a purple undertone.

Females and immature males are grayish-brown. They have a forked tail, a stout bill, and a relatively short neck. Purple martins are the largest species of swallow in North America, measuring between 7.5 and 7.9 inches long.

Purple martins arrive in Michigan in the spring, typically between April and May, for the breeding season and depart for South America in August or September. You may be able to attract them if you put up specialized purple martin houses. 

9. Belted Kingfisher

Belted kingfisher
Belted Kingfisher | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Megaceryle alcyon

Belted kingfishers are unique-looking birds with large heads, shaggy crests, and long, straight bills. Adults have a bluish-gray upper body with a white underbody and a blue-gray band across the upper chest.

Females have a rusty band across the lower belly, giving the species their “belted” name. These expert divers perch on branches or other structures above the water and dive headfirst to catch fish.

Their sharp bills and excellent diving skills allow them to capture fish underwater. The belted kingfisher can be found throughout most of Michigan year-round. 

10. Northern Parula

Northern Parula
Northern Parula | image by Scott Heron via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Setophaga americana

The northern parula is a small warbler measuring 4.3 to 4.7 inches long. They have bluish-gray heads and backs, yellow throats and breasts, and a white lower belly. Males also have a black and rusty band beneath the throat. Females look similar to males but are duller in color. 

They spend their winters in Central America and the Caribbean. Northern Parulas can be seen in across Michigan during their migration in spring and fall, but they only stop and remain for the summer in the northern tip of the state.

11. Cerulean Warbler

image: WarblerLady | Flickr | CC 2.0

Scientific Name: Setophaga cerulea

The Cerulean Warbler is a small, migratory songbird that breeds in eastern North America, including southern Michigan. Cerulean is a shade of blue, which is where this bird gets its name. The males are cerulean blue on their heads, backs, wings, and tails.

Streaks of black and white mix with the blue on the wings and tails, and their throats and bellies are white. The females are muted blueish-green or olive in color.

Cerulean Warblers are long-distance migrants who spend the winter in northern South America. They usually arrive in  in late April or early May and stay until September. These warblers like to forage at the very top of tall trees, so you’ll have to point your binoculars high up to catch their flash of blue.

12. Great Blue Heron

great blue heron standing in water
Great Blue Heron | image by birdfeederhub

Scientific Name: Ardea herodias

The great blue heron uses its long legs to hunt for food by walking through shallow water. This common heron species can be found throughout Michigan year-round. They’re the largest herons in North America, standing about 4.5 feet tall. 

They have grayish-blue feathers, a white face, large yellow beak, and dark navy accents. Great blue herons inhabit many types of freshwater and saltwater habitats including ponds, lakes and marshes, stalking their prey by walking slowly or standing still until the time is right to strike with their sharp beak. 

13. Tufted Titmouse

Scientific name: Baeolophus bicolor

These little birds are very common at feeders and in backyards within their range, which is the eastern United States. While not a very bright blue, these titmice have a definite blue hue to their silver-gray back. Their bellies are light gray with a hidden patch of orange along their side.

Tufted Titmice are primarily insectivores and have a diet that includes insects and spiders, but they also eat seeds, berries and nuts. They can be acrobatic when probing for insects or grabbing berries, hanging upside down and flitting around the ends of tree branches. A common bird throughout Michigan year-round.