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15 Yellow Birds in Michigan (with Photos)

Michigan, also known as the Great Lakes State, is bordered by four of the five Great Lakes and divided into two peninsulas—the Upper Peninsula (UP) and the Lower Peninsula (LP). The LP is more densely populated and home to major cities, while the UP is known for its natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities. Michigan has some gorgeous landscapes full of wildlife, including several species of yellow birds. This article will tell you more about yellow birds in Michigan and when you can see them. 

15 Yellow Birds in Michigan

Michigan is home to several yellow bird species, including the American goldfinch, yellow warbler, eastern meadowlark, yellow-rumped warbler, prothonotary warbler, common yellowthroat, northern parula, yellow-throated vireo, yellow-breasted chat, wilson’s warbler, great-crested flycatcher, Baltimore oriole, summer tanager, scarlet tanager and evening grosbeak. 

The birds we’ve chosen below are notable for their bright color, but they certainly aren’t the only birds with yellow plumage. If you are trying to identify a bird you don’t see on this list, grab a field guide and look up warblers, vireos, orioles, tanagers and flycatchers. Those bird families often display yellow in their plumage. 

1. American Goldfinch 

Scientific Name: Spinus tristis

Male American goldfinches are hard to miss during the breeding season, with bright yellow plumage, jet-black foreheads and wings. Females and non-breeding males have a lighter yellow coloration and lack the black cap. During the winter, males lose their bright colors and become quite dull.

American goldfinches are year-round residents in Michigan and can be found throughout the state. Goldfinches are late breeders compared to many other songbirds. Breeding typically occurs from June to August in Michigan.

2. Yellow Warbler 

yellow warbler
Yellow warbler | image by Silver Leapers via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Setophaga petechia

The yellow warbler is a small songbird measuring 4.7 – 5.1 inches long. Both males and females have bright yellow plumage. Males have distinctive reddish streaks on their chests, but the females do not.

During the winter, these birds travel to Central and South America, but between late April and early May, they arrive in Michigan for the breeding season. Since the yellow warbler preys on insects, they typically won’t flock to feeders. They can, however, be found nesting in large yards with plenty of small, native trees. Look for them in meadows and woodlands near rivers and streams, where you’ll hear them singing their “sweet-sweet-sweet-I’m-so-sweet” song.

3. Wilson’s Warbler 

wilsons warbler
Wilson’s Warbler (male) | image by Becky Matsubara via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Cardellina pusilla

The Wilson’s warbler is a beautiful bird with yellow plumage overall, an olive back, and olive-green to grayish wings. Males and females have similar appearances, but males have a distinctive black cap on the top of their heads.

Many warbler species prefer to stay in the treetops, but Wilson’s warblers can be seen foraging for food on the ground and in the underbrush. These yellow birds winter far to the south and breed to the north, but can be seen in Michigan as they stop by during their spring and fall migrations. Look for them in May and September.

4. Eastern Meadowlark 

Eastern Meadowlark
Eastern Meadowlark | image: USFWS Midwest Region

Scientific Name: Sturnella magna

The Eastern Meadowlark is a medium-sized songbird with a stout, stocky build. The feathers on their backs and wings are primarily brown, streaked with black and white markings. However, their most striking feature is the bright yellow coloring on their throats and bellies, divided by a distinctive V-shaped black patch on the chest.

These tall grassland birds that like to sing while perched on fences and utility lines. Eastern meadowlarks are year-round residents in the majority of the southeastern US but can be seen throughout Michigan during the breeding season. 

5. Prothonotary Warbler 

Prothonotary Warbler 
Prothonotary Warbler  | image:

Scientific Name: Protonotaria citrea

Prothonotary warblers are the only cavity-nesting warbler species in Michigan. They have bright yellow plumage on the head, chest, and belly with blue-gray feathers on the back, wings, and tail.

The males tend to be more brightly colored than the females. This species is usually found in the southeastern U.S. during the breeding season, but some do extend up into southeastern Michigan. In Michigan look for them during the late spring to early fall in bottom land forests with streams.

6. Common Yellowthroat 

common yellowthroat
Common Yellowthroat (male) | image by Channel City Camera Club via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Geothlypis trichas

The common yellowthroat is a warbler that can be found throughout much of the U.S. during the breeding months, and is considered to be one of the most populous warblers. Adult males have a distinctive black mask across their face, bordered by a bright yellow throat and breast. They have olive-green upperparts and a yellow belly.

Females have a similar coloration but lack the black mask, and their overall plumage is more subdued. Common yellowthroats are summer residents in Michigan and can be found throughout the state. Listen for their “witchety-witchety-witchety” song.

7. Yellow-Throated Vireo 

perched adult yellow throated vireo
Yellow-throated Vireo | image by Matt Tillet via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Vireo flavifrons

The yellow-throated vireo is a medium-sized songbird, measuring 5.1-5.9 inches. These birds have olive-green plumage on their heads that blend into the bright yellow feathers on their throats and chests. They have yellow rings around each eye that almost resemble yellow glasses.

Their yellow coloring is broken up by a gray back with white wing bars and a white lower belly. Yellow-throated vireos breed in deciduous and mixed forests across eastern North America, including Michigan. Look for them in forest edge habitat.

8. 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 with a short tail and sharp beak. This species has a blue-gray head, wings and tail with bright yellow plumage on the throat, chest and back. They also have a white belly and white spots above and below each eye. Males have deeper coloring and a rusty spot on their chest. 

Northern parulas are migratory birds that spend their winters in the Caribbean and Mexico. During summer, they breed in northern hardwood and mixed forests in far northern Michigan. The rest of the state can spot them during their spring and fall migration.

9. Yellow-Breasted Chat 

yellow breasted chat
Yellow-breasted Chat | image by Charles Gates via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Icteria virens

The yellow-breasted chat breeds throughout many regions of the U.S., including lower Michigan, but overwinters in Central America. This bird has a long tail and bulky body that features a bright yellow breast and throat. Their head and back are gray and they have a black and white stripe around each eye.

This species typically arrives in lowerMichigan in late April or early May and prefers shrubby thickets, overgrown fields, brushy areas, and young forests with dense vegetation.

10. Great Crested Flycatcher

great crested flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher | image by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Myiarchus crinitus

While many flycatchers feature at least some pale yellow, the great crested flycatcher has a notably bright yellow belly that help set it apart. They have a grayish-brown back and head, with a squared off crest. You can also look for the reddish hue of their tail. 

These large flycatchers spend much of their time at the tops of trees, so you’ll have to pay attention to spot them. But you can learn their loud whistling call, and know when they are nearby. You can find them between spring and fall throughout Michigan.

11. Baltimore Oriole 

Scientific Name: Icterus galbula

While the males of this species feature orange and black feathers, the females are the reason they are on this list. Female Baltimore orioles are mostly yellow or yellow-orange with gray wings. Juvenile males present as yellow for a time too, before they grow in their orange and black adult colors.

Baltimore orioles are migratory birds, arriving in Michigan around April to breed and raise their young. They like habitats with a mix of trees like woodlands, forest edges, and residential areas with mature trees. In the fall they head south again to spend the winter in warmer climates.

12. Summer Tanager

summer tanager
Summer Tanager (female) | image by Patricia Pierce via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Piranga rubra

Summer tanagers don’t include Michigan in their breeding range, but people do report seeing them between March and May as the rush of spring migrants is returning. Sightings mainly occur in the southern portion of the state.

The male summer tanager is almost entirely red, while females are entirely yellow. These birds prefer to forage for insects in the treetops, and are known for their ability to eat bees and wasps. 

13. Scarlet Tanager

female scarlet tanager
Female Scarlet Tanager | image by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Piranga olivacea 

Similar to summer tanagers, during the breeding season male scarlet tanagers are red while females are yellow. You can tell them apart by their wings, black on males and dark/dusky on females. During the non-breeding season, males molt back to look similar to females. 

Spot scarlet tanagers during the spring and summer in the eastern United States, including Michigan. While the bird’s primary food source consists of insects, they may be attracted to a yard with berry bushes. 

14. Evening Grosbeak

Evening grosbeaks on bird feeder
Evening grosbeaks on bird feeder | image by fishhawk via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Coccothraustes vespertinus

Evening grosbeaks are a heavy finch with a thick bill. The males have a yellow and black body, a white stripe on their wings, and a bright yellow stripe on each eye. The females are not as vibrant as the males and are mostly gray in color.

The evening grosbeak is a bird mainly found across Canada, but they also have a year-round range in northern Michigan. In the rest of the state, you can see them during the winter months when some move further south looking for conifer cone crops. They will visit backyard feeders, especially if you offer sunflower seeds.  

15. Orchard Oriole

orchard oriole
Orchard Oriole (first year male) | image by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Icterus spurius

Male orchard orioles wouldn’t make this list with their dark rusty and black plumage. However before they get those rusty orange feathers, first-year males are bright yellow with gray wings and a black patch around the eyes and on the chin. Females are also yellow and look like first-year males without the black on the face. 

Orchard orioles winter in Central and South America, and travel to the southern half of Michigan for the breeding season. Find them between May and September. As their name suggests, they like orchard and farm habitat, as well as shrubland, woodland and lakeshores.