With its lush, sprawling forests, and wild, open grasslands, Michigan is home to countless species of birds, all of them with different habits, diets, and practices.
Blue birds are perhaps some of the rarest in the state, but they are present nevertheless.
Ranging from warblers to blue birds, to the greater known Blue Jay, here is our list of the top three blue birds that can be found in the state of Michigan.
The Kirtland’s warbler is a small, blueish-green bird with a long tail and pointed wings.
It has yellowish legs and a black cap that extends to the sides of its head. The bill is dark brown or black.
Its range includes much of eastern North America, including all of Canada except Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Labrador; the entire United States east of the Rockies; and most of Central America.
Kirtland’s warblers are common in their breeding habitat, which consists of mixed deciduous forests where they nest on the ground under leaf litter, a habitat perfect for attracting plenty of potential sources of food.
Natural insectivores, Kirtland’s diet consists primarily of ants, beetles, caterpillars, flies, grasshoppers, moths, butterflies, wasps, bees, true bugs, crickets, cockroaches, termites, and spiders.
As well as this, they also consume berry fruits, berries, seeds, nuts, and flowers, despite insects making up over 50% of their diet.
In winter, they spend time foraging in open areas such as fields, parks, roadsides, and golf courses.
They also visit feeders. They are omnivorous and will eat some animal matter, especially when it is abundant.
Found throughout North America except for Alaska and northern Canada, Blue Jays prefer open areas with scattered trees and shrubs, especially those with dense undergrowth, though they often use man made structures such as buildings, bridges, and telephone poles for hunting.
Blue jays are medium-sized, greyish-blue birds, existing in four subspecies: the Northern Jay, Eastern Blue Jay, Western Blue Jay, and Florida Blue Jay.
All are similar in appearance, though the Northern Jay has a black tail and wing coverts, while the others have yellowish tails and wing coverts.
Also, the Southern Blue Jay is larger than the Northern Jay, and has a longer bill and shorter wings, whilst the Western Blue Jay is smaller than the Northern Jay, and the Florida Blue Jay.
Blue Jays are social animals, and form loose flocks during migration. They live in small groups called colonies, with each colony containing one dominant pair and many subordinate members.
Dominant males defend territories against intruders and aggressively chase away subordinates. Subordinate females and young are tolerated but not protected.
When defending territory, dominant males aggressively mob intruding males, whilst the females do not participate in territorial defence.
They are even known to attack domestic cats and dogs when given the opportunity, as well as other brightly coloured birds when in captivity, such as parrots.
Blue Jays are opportunistic feeders. They eat fruit, invertebrates, small vertebrates, and carrion.
They sometimes steal food from other species, including honeybees, crows, magpies, robins, starlings, thrushes, woodpeckers, and squirrels.
Blue Jay’s engage in an omnivorous diet, including insects, fruits, berries, seeds, nuts, and carrion (dead animal tissue).
Insects make up more than half of their diet, mainly beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, ants, wasps, bees, flies, moths, butterflies, and crickets.
Some insect prey items are caught in flight. Other times, they catch insects at ground level using a variety of techniques.
They may pounce on prey from above, drop down onto it, or pick it off a leaf. When hunting, blue jays often run along branches or wires before swooping down to capture prey.
Blue Jays also occasionally eat dead animals. Carrion is usually found near water sources.
They may scavenge carcasses left by other birds and mammals. Sometimes, they will dig into a body and remove meat.
Eastern bluebirds are medium-sized with long tails, and plumage similar to that of the western bluebird except for the lack of white on the tail.
They have a black head, neck, breast, belly, wings, and tail. The upperparts are greyish brown, with darker streaks on the shoulders and flanks.
The underparts are pale buffy yellow, becoming paler toward the vent. Juveniles resemble adults but have dark streaking on the sides of the face.
Eastern bluebirds are tall, with long legs, short and straight bills, and four-toed feet that allow them to hop around with great speed and manoeuvrability.
The eastern bluebird has a very distinctive call, which consists of two notes: a high-pitched “chirrup” sound, followed by a lower-pitched “chip”.
This sound can be heard throughout the spring and summer months, making them easily identifiable to those wishing to find them.
Like most other bluebird species’, the eastern bluebird eats small invertebrates such as spiders, snails, worms, bugs, and slugs.
In addition to insects, they eat seeds, fruits, and nectar. They also consume carrion, but only when no other options present themselves.
Eastern bluebirds favour open woodlands, prairies, and savannas, where they nest in trees, shrubs, and bushes so as to perfectly observe and catch their food.
They often build their nests in holes excavated by other birds, such as woodpeckers, crows, and starlings, and their nests are lined with soft material, such as moss, hair, feathers, fur, wool, and paper.
And there we have it, the top three blue birds found in the state of Michigan.
Boasting one of the largest species of “backyard birds” in the country, Michigan provides budding ornithologists with ample opportunities to spot, catalogue, and photograph a variety of different species.
With the great expanse of scenery and forestland, why not head out there and see how many of these species you can find? Whatever the outcome, you won’t be disappointed.