10 Types Of ORANGE Birds In Michigan (ID Guide With Photos)

Did you recently come across an orange bird in Michigan, and want to know what species it was?

Identifying orange birds in the state is not as easy as it might seem, since there are several bird species in Michigan that are largely or partially orange.

To help you identify the bird you saw, we’ll cover all the different orange bird species that can be seen in Michigan.

Types of orange birds found in Michigan

What types of orange birds are found in Michigan?

The 10 types of orange birds found in Michigan are:

  • American Robin
  • Orchard Oriole
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Barn Swallow
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • American Redstart
  • Blackburnian Warbler
  • American Kestrel
  • Cooper’s Hawk

While some of these orange birds are year round residents of Michigan, others only occur in the state during the nesting season in summer.

Yet other birds are winter visitors in Michigan, and some are vagrants that only rarely occur in the Great Lake state.

Now let’s dive into the details, and take a closer look at each of these species in order to get the full scoop:

American Robin

Scientific name: Turdus migratorius

Photo of American Robin adult

The American Robin is actually a thrush, but got its name from early settlers in North America who noticed its resemblance with the European Robin.

The orange chest of this bird makes it easy to identify the American Robin. It mostly forages for food on the ground with the help of its powerful legs and stout yellow beak.

In the fall and winter, it feeds on fruit and searches for snails and worms amid the fallen leaves. It frequently congregates in big roosts in the non-breeding season.

The American Robin is a superb singer, with a song that is melodious and flowing, similar to many other thrushes.

They construct their bulky nests out of twigs at a very variable height, from the ground all the way up to the canopy of the trees.

In a typical year, American robins will have between two and three broods.

While the original habitat of American Robins was woodlands, they have adjusted superbly to the expansion of human settlements, and are now found in suburban areas as common breeding birds.

This thrush is a partial migratory bird, with its northernmost populations in Canada and the northern USA being entirely migratory.

In Michigan, the American Robin is found all year round in the southern part, but only during the summer months in the northern parts.

American Robin song:

(Source: Thomas Magarian, XC543355, www.xeno-canto.org/543355)

Orchard Oriole

Scientific name: Icterus spurius

Photo of Orchard Oriole adult male

This Oriole got its name from its preference for orchards and open woods. It is a summer visitor in Michigan, and is most commonly found in the southern part of the state.

Unlike the females (which are mostly dull yellow), males are a dark orange color with a black head, throat, upper back, wings, and tail.

Young males resemble females in color, and gradually become more and more orange and black over their first two years.

Early in the summer, the Orchard Oriole feeds on insects, but later it will switch to eating wild fruit as they become mature.

After their young have fledged, parent Orioles will bring them to feeding stations (if you offer orange slices or have a nectar feeder. 

Some people mistakenly believe that the Orchard Orioles have departed since they do not see them at their feeders very often during the peak of the summer.

However, the birds are still present nearby, but are simply focused on catching insects to bring back to their nestlings.

The Orchard Oriole is one of the birds that gets here very late in the spring and is one of the ones that leaves quite early in the fall.

Orchard Oriole sound:

(Source: Paul Driver, XC651124, www.xeno-canto.org/651124)

Baltimore Oriole

Scientific name: Icterus galbula

Photo of Baltimore Oriole adult male

The Baltimore Oriole is a wonderful singer that is more frequently heard than seen.

Adult males are very conspicuous due to their flaming orange underside, paired with a completely black head and back, as well as a single white band on their otherwise black wings.

Females and immatures are much more drab, and instead have a brownish yellow coloration.

Baltimore Orioles are readily attracted to feeders that contain orange halves, grape jelly, or nectar.

And similar to Orchard Orioles, parents bring their recently fledged young to a nearby feeder.

Their flaming orange breast makes these birds easy to spot in Michigan

This orange bird favors open spaces such as yards, parks, and woods, and frequently comes back to the same location year after year.

Keep an eye out for Baltimore Orioles in deciduous forests, but not in dense woods. You may encounter them in places like open forests, forest margins, orchards and even backyards.

Due to the fact that they forage high in trees in search of insects, fruit, and flowers, most orioles are more frequently heard than seen.

The Baltimore Oriole is a summer visitor to Michigan, and is one of the latest migratory birds to arrive in spring, and one of the earliest to leave in fall.

Baltimore Oriole sound:

(Source: Christopher McPherson, XC690956, www.xeno-canto.org/690956)

Eastern Towhee

Scientific name: Pipilo erythrophthalmus 

Photo of Eastern Towhee adult male

Towhees got their name from the characteristic “Tow-hee” cry that both genders use.

Male Eastern Towhees have rusty orange sides and a white belly, while the back and head is jet black.

The rusty orange patch is most conspicuous when you see an Eastern Towhee perched on a branch, and view it from the front or from below.

When the Eastern Towhee takes to the air, white comma-shaped wing patches become visible on the upper side of its wings.

While some Eastern Towhees in the southern coastal states have white eyes, Michigan is home to the red-eyed form of this species.

Although the female incubates the eggs, the male does the heavy lifting when it comes to feeding the young. 

The Eastern Towhee, similar to all other species of towhee, forages by making a comical backwards hopping motion with both feet at the same time.

It does this in order to displace leaves and expose the seeds and insects that are concealed under them.

The Eastern Towhee can be found year-round in southern Michigan, while it is a summer visitor in the northern part.

Eastern Towhee sound: The Eastern Towhee is well-known for its characteristic call, which can be memorized with the mnemonic “drink your tea.”

(Source: Christopher McPherson, XC444954, www.xeno-canto.org/444954)

Barn Swallow

Scientific name: Hirundo rustica

Photo of Barn Swallow adult

The Barn Swallow inhabits nearly all of North America south of the Arctic circle and may be found in a wide variety of habitats.

While it has dark iridescent blue  upperparts, its underside is reddish-orange, including a chestnut orange forehead and throat, as well as a light reddish-orange belly.

The deeply forked tail of Barn Swallows is another great feature you can use to identify this bird. 

However, keep in mind that immature barn swallows have a duller plumage than adults, as well as a shorter tail that is less forked.

The Barn Swallow  used to nest in caves and hollow trees, but nowadays it prefers to do so beneath the overhangs of buildings and bridges, as well as inside barns (which explains how it got its name).

Barn Swallows are still a reasonably common sight in most areas. However, the overall numbers of Barn Swallows have been steadily decreasing, especially in the northern section of their range.

This decline is likely a result of the loss of foraging areas and nesting opportunities.

The Barn Swallow feeds on flying insects, such as mosquitoes and flies, and catches them closer to the ground than other species of swallows. In its winter quarters it also feeds on termites.

It is a strictly migratory bird, and spends the winter in Central and Southern America.

Barn Swallow sound

(Source: William Whitehead, XC741615, www.xeno-canto.org/741615)

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Scientific name: Sitta canadensis

Photo of Red-breasted Nuthatch adult

The Red-breasted Nuthatch is a common visitor at bird feeders, and also accepts nesting boxes that are put up well before the breeding season.

Adult male Red-breasted Nuthatches have rusty orange underparts, as well as a blue-gray upperparts and a black eye stripe that contrasts with their while cheeks and eyebrow.

Females and immatures have slightly paler orange underparts. 

In the eastern part of their range, Red-breasted Nuthatches can be found in coniferous forests in lowlands and hills. In the western part, however, they inhabit mountainous areas.

The Red-breasted Nuthatch is a talented climber, and can use its robust claws to climb in any direction on a tree trunk.

It is often observed upside down while feeding on insects it excavates from under the tree’s bark.

In addition to eating insects, it also feeds on seeds and nuts, which it can store for later use, similar to squirrels.

In order to open a nut, it will place the nut in a crack of bark, and then hammer it with its beak.

Nuthatches dig out nest cavities in pine trees, and also use mud to adjust the size of the opening. 

In Michigan, Red-breasted Nuthatches can be found year round, except for the southernmost parts, where they only occur during the winter.

Red-breasted Nuthatch sound

(Source: Jarrod Swackhammer, XC522475, www.xeno-canto.org/522475)

Related: The red birds of Michigan

American Redstart

Scientific name: Setophaga ruticilla

Photo of American Redstart adult male

The American Redstart is a wood warbler that stands out thanks to its brightly colored markings and hyperactive demeanor. 

Adult males have orange markings on their wings and the base of their tails, while their heads and upperparts are jet black.

They also have bright orange patches on the side of their breast, while the rest of the underparts are white.

Females, on the other hand, have a grayish head, as well as gray-olive upperparts.

And instead of the orange patches of the male, females have bright yellow patches in all the same areas of their body.

The American Redstart is a strict migratory bird, and spends its winter in Central and South America. 

During the breeding season from May through August, this orange and black Michigan bird can be seen across a large area of the middle and eastern portions of North America.

The American Redstart forages for food very actively, by fanning its tail as it searches for insects.

By flaring its tail, it exposes the bright orange patches that are located at the base of the tail. It is thought that this helps to startle any insects in the area, which are then easier to catch.

American Redstart song

(Source: Christopher McPherson, XC690952, www.xeno-canto.org/690952)

Blackburnian Warbler

Scientific name: Setophaga fusca

Photo of Blackburnian Warbler adult male

The Blackburnian Warbler is a beautiful songbird with striking colors and distinctive markings.

Adult males have an orange face with a black patch around the eye. The throat is flaming orange, while the breast is more yellowish.

The crown, nape, and back are black, as are the wings and most of the tail. The wings also have a big white patch.

Females resemble adult males, but the black feathers on their bodies are streaked with a yellowish-gray color, and their faces are yellow rather than orange.

It can be hard to observe this orange bird during the breeding season, since it likes to forage among the treetops. However, during migration in fall and spring, Blackburnian Warblers can be easier to spot.

The Blackburnian Warbler can be found in the woodlands of Michigan  mostly during the months of May through August.

As a strict migrant, the Blackburnian Warbler spends the remaining months of the year in South America. 

Blackburnian Warbler song

(Source: Christopher McPherson, XC690976, www.xeno-canto.org/690976)

American Kestrel

Scientific name: Falco sparverius

Photo of American Kestrel adult male

The American Kestrel is not only the smallest falcon in North America, but also one of the most common birds of prey in Michigan.

Male American Kestrels are very colorful, and sport rufous orange upperparts and and tail, as well as blue gray wings with dark pointed tips.

The male also has a reddish orange cap on its crown, as well as a dark mustache and dark bar behind the eye. 

Female American Kestrels are more pale in their coloration, but also have rufous orange upperparts.

When foraging for food, it likes to hover over fields and meadows, or hunt from a perch such as a telephone pole or tree branch.

After it spots a rodent or other small animal, the American Kestrel dives down to grab it with its talons. 

The most commonly taken prey during the spring and summer months are insects and worms, while rodents and small birds predominate during the colder months. 

It likes to nest in abandoned Woodpecker holes, as well as crevices in buildings. Also accepts nesting boxes installed by humans. 

The American Kestrel is a migratory bird in the northern parts of its range, while it is a year-round resident in more southern parts. In Michigan, it is a summer visitor.

American Kestrel sound

(Source: Fernando Castro, XC641551, www.xeno-canto.org/641551)

Cooper’s Hawk

Scientific name: Accipiter cooperii

Photo of Coopers Hawk adult male

This little hawk is agile and has a lot of skill when it comes to catching small Michigan birds in flight. Sometimes it will even take species that are larger than it is.

Male Cooper’s Hawks have reddish-orange bars on their underside, while their upperparts are grayish-blue. The piercing eyes are vermillion red. 

You’re most likely to notice the orange coloration on the chest and underside of a Cooper’s Hawk if you can observe it perched on a branch.

The long tail and small, rounded wings of the Cooper’s Hawk make it possible for this hawk to perform sharp turns and quick maneuvers in the thick foliage of dense forests and shrubs.

While Cooper’s Hawks were originally shy woodland birds, they are now commonly found in urban areas, where they hunt pigeons and songbirds.

It is not unusual for a Cooper’s Hawk to show up at a bird feeder, where it tries to surprise and ambush feeding songbirds with a lightning fast dash from a hidden perch.

It is a summer visitor in the northern parts of Michigan, while it can be found year-round in the southern parts.

Cooper’s Hawk sound

(Source: Lance A. M. Benner, XC388121, www.xeno-canto.org/388121

What are the most common orange birds in Michigan?

The most common orange birds found in Michigan are American Robins.

Not only are they common breeding birds all over Michigan, but also guests at bird feeders that offer berries, apples and mealworms (although you can’t attract them with seeds).

Outside of the breeding season these orange birds like to form large flocks that roost together in trees.

What attracts these birds to your yard?

The top 5 things you can do to attract orange birds to your yard in Michigan are as follows:

  • Set up a feeder with sunflower seeds or a seed mix
  • Set up a bird bath
  • Plant shrubs to provide nesting opportunities
  • Plant native fruiting plants
  • For attracting orioles, provide a feeder with nectar or grape jelly

What Michigan birds are black and orange?

The following birds in Michigan are black and orange:

  • American Robin
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • Orchard Oriole
  • American Redstart
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Blackburnian Warbler

As you can see, many of the orange birds found in Michigan also have black in their plumage

So if you want to identify a specific one of these species, refer to our detailed ID guide with photos above.

Related: The blue birds of Michigan

What birds are yellow and orange in Michigan?

The following birds in Michigan have both yellow and orange in their plumage:

  • Baltimore Oriole
  • Blackburnian Warbler

If you’re not sure which one of these orange birds you saw, refer to the photos in our detailed ID guide above.

What birds in Michigan have an orange breast?

The following birds in Michigan have an orange breast:

  • American Robin
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • Orchard Oriole
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • Blackburnian Warbler

If you’re not sure how to distinguish between these orange bird species, compare their photos in our detailed ID guide above.

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