There are over 450 different species of birds that fly high above Michigan’s skyline and across the Great Lakes State.
The state has everything from small, adorable birds like the Blue Jay and American Robin to large, powerful birds of prey like the Golden Eagle and the Prairie Falcon.
With so many different species of birds on offer, it can be hard for bird lovers to keep track and learn about what can be seen in the skies.
That’s where we come in. To help you learn more about Michigan’s birds, we’ve compiled a list of the amazing birds of prey the state has to offer. We’ll give you a brief description of each one and explain what makes them so special.
If you want to learn more about Michigan and its wildlife or simply love all things bird-related, be sure to keep reading!
1. The Golden Eagle
It seems only fitting to start with the infamous Golden Eagle. Famous throughout America, Michigan’s skies are dominated by this incredible bird of prey.
Larger in size than the American Bald Eagle, this bird’s wingspan can reach an impressive 7.8 feet.
Known scientifically as “Aquila chrysaetos”, the Golden Eagle is much loved for its sheer size, power, and beauty.
Easily recognizable thanks to its vibrant golden brown body, the Golden Eagle feeds on small mammals like rabbits and squirrels.
2. Prairie Falcon
Endemic to Northern America, the Prairie Falcon isn’t an unfamiliar sight in the skies in and around Michigan, despite being referred to scientifically as “Falco mexicanus”.
Featuring a brown, tan plumage along its back and spots across its body, this bird of prey isn’t as big as others.
Unlike the Golden Eagle, the Prairie Falcon is pretty small. Having said that, most birds are when compared to the Golden Eagle.
Thanks to its medium size, the Prairie Falcon can reach incredibly fast speeds. It uses its speed to dive at prey from above. They usually feed on small rodents.
3. Peregrine Falcon
Another type of falcon, the Peregrine Falcon is well-known as the fastest bird in the world. Unbelievably, this falcon can dive from the sky at speeds reaching more than 200 mph.
Sharing its appearance with its 4 million-year-old ancestors (Falco peregrinus), this bird of prey has a grayish-brown back and a brown, tan body. Compared to the Prairie Falcon, the Peregrine Falcon is bigger.
This allows it to hunt a wider range of food including waterfowl, grouse, and pigeons. They may also snack on small mammals.
4. Black Vulture
The next bird of prey found in Michigan is the black vulture. With a wingspan of up to 6 feet long, the black vulture may not be as big as other vultures found around the world, but it still dominates the sky.
Black all over, except for the tips of its wings that are a paler gray color, this vulture doesn’t have the pinky-red head we normally associate with the species.
It still features a bald head like other vultures but is instead black in color.
This species of vulture tends to feed on carrion, but it has been known to also kill animals in order to eat fresh meat.
5. Great Horned Owl
You’re most likely to hear the Great Horned Owl before you see it as this bird of prey is nocturnal.
Identifiable by its loud hooting sound, the best place to spot this beautiful bird is in one of Michigan’s forests. This is where they love to hunt small mammals.
Commonly referred to by its scientific name “Bubo virginianus” this common owl is quite large and stunning.
It has a fluffy appearance and large tufts on its ears that almost look like horns, hence the name Great Horned Owl.
6. Snowy Owl
Harry Potter fans out there will have seen the Snowy Owl regularly as it was a Snowy Owl (Hedwig) that Harry kept as his companion.
It is the owl’s wonderful white appearance that makes it so popular and incredibly unique.
Its thick coat of feathers encompasses the owl’s entire body, making it a joy to behold, especially when seen in the wild.
As if that wasn’t enough, this elegant bird has piercing yellow eyes and a gorgeous round face. Compared to other species of owl, the Snowy Owl is quite large.
Their pleasant demeanor has even seen the Snowy Owl kept as a pet outside the world of magic.
7. The American Bald Eagle
The American Bald Eagle was declared the national bird of the USA in 1782, it’s not hard to see why.
Including Michigan, this mesmerizing bird of prey is found in every single one of America’s mainland states as well as Alaska and Canada.
This eagle is known as the Bald Eagle because of its unique appearance. The bird has a thick brown coat and body, but a bright white head and yellow beak. From a distance, this gives the impression that the bird is bald.
Reaching almost 40 inches tall, with a wingspan of 6.6 feet, this beast of a bird feeds on a range of mammals and other birds.
8. Red-Tailed Hawk
Scientifically, the Red-Tailed Hawk is known as the “Buteo jamaicensis”. A type of raptor, this bird of prey is commonly seen all over America, not just in Michigan.
Despite only feeding on small mammals such as rats and mice, the Red-Tailed Hawk is best known for its one-of-a-kind sound that even sends other birds of prey flying.
Quite large in size, the Red-Tailed Hawk has an iconic reddish-brown tail, a 4.5 feet wingspan, and a height of 23 inches. They also weigh up to 3 lbs.
9. Broad-Winged Hawk
Surprisingly small for a hawk, the Broad-Winged Hawk can be seen frequently flying over deciduous and coniferous woodlands in Michigan for its next meal.
Though this bird of prey is only small in size, it can be extremely protective and aggressive when it comes to defending its nest.
On the topic of nests, this bird will build its nest in wooded areas alongside other Broad-Winged Hawks that it will have migrated therewith.
10. American Kestrel
Also known by the name “Falco sparverius”, the American Kestrel is the final bird of prey on our Michigan list.
Considered to be a hawk instead of a falcon, this bird is famous for its size.
The American Kestrel is actually the smallest hawk in North America. It is so small, some even call it the “sparrow hawk”.
Aside from its size, you can identify the American Kestrel by its bronze wings and head.
The bird also has steely blue patches dotted across its wings. Although the American Kestrel is only small in size, it can easily take on small mammals and other birds.
That concludes our list looking at birds of prey found in Michigan. As you can see from our list, Michigan is lucky enough to have some of the most amazing, beautiful, fierce, and spectacular birds of prey America has ever seen.
In fact, our list could have gone on and on with even more birds. However, the birds on our list should satisfy your curiosity for now.
Now you know more about the birds of prey in Michigan, why not check out our other posts where we look at birds or prey from other US states.