13 Types Of RED BIRDS In Michigan (ID Guide With Photos)
Did you recently come across a red bird in Michigan, and want to know what species it was?
Identifying red-colored birds in Michigan is not as easy as it might seem, since there are many bird species in the Great Lake State that are either completely red or partially red.
To help you identify the bird you saw, we’ll cover all the different red birds of Michigan.
What are the types of red birds in Michigan?
The 13 types of the red birds found in Michigan are:
- Northern Cardinal
- House Finch
- Scarlet Tanager
- Red-headed Woodpecker
- Red-bellied Woodpecker
- Red Crossbill
- Ruby-throated Hummingbird
- Purple Finch
- White-winged Crossbill
- Rose-breasted Grosbeak
- Pine Grosbeak
- Common Redpoll
Some of these red birds are found year-round in Michigan, while others are winter visitors and yet others are summer visitors (more on that below).
Now let’s dive into the details, and take a closer look at each of these red birds in order to get the full scoop:
Scientific name: Cardinalis cardinalis
As the state bird of Michigan, the Northern Cardinal is the most well known red bird of Michigan.
Male Northern Cardinals have a bright crimson coloration on their head, chest, and belly, and slightly darker plumage on their back and wing feathers.
In addition, the face has a black mask extending from the brightly colored bill to the throat.
Female Northern Cardinals are not quite as colorful as males, and have a more buff-brown body color.
The Northern Cardinal is a common bird of Michigan, and can be seen year round in backyards, gardens, small forests, and parks.
During the winter months it doesn’t defend its territory, and sometimes gathers in flocks of up to 25 individuals that feed together. This red bird is a regular visitor at bird feeders.
Scientific name: Haemorhous mexicanus
The House Finch is one of the most common red birds in North America, and is mostly found in settled areas, ranging from small towns to large metropolitan centers.
Adult male House Finches can be identified by the bright red feathers on the head and upper breast, although in some cases they are slightly more orange or yellowish in color.
Unlike the males, the females are not red birds, but instead have grayish streaks on a brown background.
The House Finch was originally a western bird, and it wasn’t until the 1940s that this red bird was discovered in New York and other places on the east coast of the US.
The eastern House Finch population began to grow in the 1950s and 60s, and by the year 2000, it had expanded so far west that it connected with the original western population.
The House Finch is entirely herbivorous, and feeds on seeds, buds, and fruits.
If you set up a bird feeder in your backyard, you can expect these red birds to be among the first to visit it.
This red bird is found in Michigan all year round, and while it is not a migratory bird, it does move to areas with more food outside of the breeding season.
Scientific name: Piranga olivacea
The Scarlet Tanager is a bird with a tropical appearance, due to the bright scarlet plumage of the males, which contrasts with their coal-black wings and tail feathers.
But unlike the startling bright red color of the male, the female looks more like a pale yellow Michigan bird.
This red bird is a summer visitor to Michigan, and spends its winter in Central and South America.
Both sexes sing a similar song in order to mark and defend their territory from other Tanagers.
This red bird loves warm temperatures, and thus arrives late in spring, and leaves early in fall. During spring and fall, Scarlet Tanagers from Canada can be seen passing through the state.
While there are many Tanager species in the world, most of these are tropical, and the Scarlet Tanager is the only tanager that breeds in Michigan.
Scientific name: Melanerpes erythrocephalus
The Red-headed Woodpecker is one of the few non-dimorphic woodpeckers, which means that males and females look alike.
Red-headed Woodpeckers have an all-red head with a solid black back. They also have a white chest, rump and belly, as well as black wings and a black tail. The bill and legs are gray.
In Michigan, no other woodpecker has an all red head. The Pileated Woodpecker has a head that is mostly black.
The Red-headed Woodpecker favors wide-open forests or forests with plenty of dead or rotten limbs.
It may use the same nest cavity for multiple years in a succession, in contrast to other woodpeckers that only use them once or for a small period of time.
It used to be the most common woodpecker in Michigan, but the population has unfortunately declined by more than 90 percent, and the Red-headed Woodpecker is now a rare sight in the Great Lake State.
Scientific name: Melanerpes carolinus
The Red-bellied Woodpecker has a black-and-white “Zebra” pattern on its back, as well as a white rump.
Its red crown goes all the way down to the base of the neck. Both sexes look similar, although the female has a partially gray crown.
The Red-bellied Woodpecker favors shady woodlands, forest edges and backyards with old trees.
It excavates holes in rotting wood to locate beetles, centipedes, spiders, and other creatures.
During winter, this red bird stores berries and acorns in tree crevices and cracks. Every year, the Red-bellied Woodpecker excavates a new nest below the previous one in the same tree.
While it is named for the rufous tinge on its belly, this can be hard to see unless you get a close up view.
Fortunately, this beautiful bird is steadily expanding its range across the whole country.
Scientific name: Loxia curvirostra
These birds get their name from their distinctive bills, which resemble a bent pair of scissors with their points crossed.
Adult males of this red bird have a deep red underside, head, and rump, while their wings and back are dark brown
Females and immature Red Crossbills are more inconspicuous, and are olive-colored with streaks on their flanks and belly.
Red crossbills are able to harvest seeds from pine cones by cutting through the scales of the cones with their crossbill.
These red birds will use their feet to keep the cones pinned down while they use their tongues to pick the seeds out of the cones and then eat them.
The breeding season of these crossbills is timed to coincide with ripening of pine cones, and can sometimes start as early as February.
Scientific name: Archilochus colubris
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a tiny bird in Michigan.
The male has a dark throat that reflects flashes of ruby red when it catches the sunlight.
Similar to other hummingbirds, this bird can fly straight up, down, or backwards, and can also hover in mid air, with its wings generating a humming sound like a tiny generator.
Hummingbirds are fascinating creatures that breathe up to 250 times per minute and have a heartbeat of over 1,200 times per minute.
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is attracted to gardens and backyards that have tubular flowers that produce a lot of nectar.
In addition to flower nectar, it also feeds on insects. It is a long-distance migratory bird, and spends its winter in Central America.
Scientific name: Haemorhous purpureus
The Purple Finch is a little songbird with a compact body, a conical beak, and a head that is disproportionately larger than its body.
The heads and breasts of adult males are a deep shade of raspberry red, while the backs of their bodies are streaked with red and brown. The flanks are cream colored with pink streaks.
Birds from the eastern part of the range have a white belly, whereas birds from the western part of the range have a gray belly. Purple Finches in Michigan have a gray belly.
The upperparts of females and immature birds are streaked with a grayish brown, while the underparts are a light cream color with brown streaks.
During the months of May through August, the Purple Finch is found breeding in northern Michigan, as well as eastern Canada and northeastern USA.
During the winter, however, these birds migrate south and spend the cold months in the eastern United States. At this time they can be seen all over Michigan.
White-winged Crossbill (Two-barred Crossbill)
Scientific name: Loxia leucoptera
Similar to other crossbills, the White-winged Crossbill has a cross-tipped beak.
Most of the body plumage of adult male White-winged Crossbills is pinkish red, although it is paler compared to the color of Red Crossbill males.
The tail and the wings are black, with two prominent white wing bars visible on the latter (explaining the name of this crossbill).
The body of females is streaked with a yellowish color, but their wings are black with a wingbar pattern similar to that of males.
White-winged Crossbills are largely non-migratory, and remain in the breeding range in Canada and the northern United States all year round.
In Michigan, White-winged Crossbills are seen as scarce winter vagrants that are more abundant in some years.
Scientific name: Pheucticus ludovicianus
The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is easily identifiable due to its distinct markings and its large beak.
During the summer, adult males have a scarlet red chest, which contrasts with their jet black hood and back. Their black wings have white patches and white wing bars.
Adult females and immatures, on the other hand, have streaked brown plumage that is lighter on the underside than on the back. They also have a white eyebrow stripe and white wingbar.
The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a summer visitor in Michigan from May through August.
This red songbird is migratory, and flies to Central America to spend the winter months. Similar to other crossbill species, it specializes in feeding on the seeds of pine cones.
Scientific name: Pinicola enucleator
The Pine Grosbeak is a red songbird with a short and stubby bill.
The adult males are red with varying amounts of gray on their sides and bellies. The tail and the wings are dark with two white wing bars.
Females are more drab, and have a more brownish yellow coloration compared to the males.
This red bird is a northern species that is present in northern Michigan within the upper peninsula.
It is a year-round resident, but during the cold season, it may move south if the winter is harsh.
Scientific name: Acanthis flammea
The Common Redpoll is a small finch of northern forests. It is a breeding bird throughout Canada, and is an irregular winter visitor in Michigan.
Adult males have a gray-brown head with a red forehead, as well as a pinkish red breast and flanks.
Females are less colorful, but they also have a red forehead. Both sexes have brown-gray upperparts with dark streaks.
This red bird favors boreal forests all the way north to the arctic. Outside of the breeding season it forms small flocks that move around in search of areas with plentiful seeds.
What are the types of red headed birds in Michigan?
There 4 types of red headed birds in Michigan are:
- House Finch
- Red-headed Woodpecker
- Scarlet Tanager
- Red-bellied Woodpecker
The most common red headed bird in Michigan is the House Finch. But keep in mind that only males have a red head, while females are entirely gray brown birds.
The most stunning red headed bird in Michigan is the Red-headed Woodpecker, but unfortunately these woodpeckers have become quite rare over the past decades.
What are the types of red and black birds in Michigan?
The 3 types of red and black birds in Michigan are:
- Scarlet Tanager
- Red-winged Blackbird
- Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbirds are the most common red and black birds in Michigan. Males are almost entirely black, except for a patch of bright red on their shoulders.
Conversely, male Northern Cardinals are almost entirely red-colored birds, except for their black face.
Scarlet Tanagers have a bright red body and head, while their wings and tail are jet black. If you’re not sure which one of these you saw, check out our ID guide with photos above.
How to attract birds to your yard in Michigan
The top 5 things you can do to attract birds to your yard 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
- In order to attract fruit-eating birds, offer apples or berries at your feeder
This concludes our article on the types of red-colored birds in Michigan.
If you’ve spotted one of these red birds in your backyard, hopefully this ID guide will help you identify it quickly and easily.
And if you enjoyed this, check out our guide to the large birds of Michigan.