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10 Types of Black Birds in Michigan (With Pictures)

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Rusty blackbird perched on a metal barrier

Every state has its own unique bird species, and Michigan is no different. The Great Lakes State is home to several types of black birds, including the Common Grackle, the Rusty Blackbird, and many others.

In this guide, we’re highlighting the 10 most common types of black birds that you can find in Michigan. You’ll learn some interesting facts about each species, so you’re sure to be an expert on Michigan’s black birds in no time!

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The 10 Types of Black Birds in Michigan

1. Common Grackle

common grackle on the rock

Image Credit: Jo Kleeb, Shutterstock

Length 11 to 13 inches 
Wingspan  14 to 18 inches
Weight 2.5 to 5 ounces

The Common Grackle is a type of blackbird that is found in Michigan. It is a small bird that is about 12 inches long. The Common Grackle has a dark body with an iridescent purple or green sheen. It has a long tail and a short beak.

Common Grackles are found in open areas such as fields, parks, and wetlands. They feed on insects, spiders, and other small animals. These black birds are known to be aggressive and will chase away other birds from their territory.


2. European Starling

european starling bird on a bench

Image Credit: GAIMARD, Pixabay

Length 8 to 9 inches 
Wingspan  12.1 to 16 inches
Weight 2.1 to 3.4 ounces

The European starling is an invasive species in Michigan, originally introduced to North America in the 1890s. This black bird is now one of the most common birds in the state and can be found in nearly every habitat.

European starlings are opportunistic feeders and will eat just about anything, from insects to berries. They often form large flocks and can be aggressive towards other birds.

Most European starlings in Michigan are found in the southern part of the state, but it isn’t uncommon to see them as far north as the Upper Peninsula.


3. Red-winged Blackbird

red-winged blackbird

Image Credit: Meister199, Pixabay

Length 6.7 to 9 inches 
Wingspan  12 to 15.8 inches
Weight 1.1 to 2.7 ounces

The red-winged blackbird is a species of true blackbird in the family Icteridae. The adult male has distinctive red and yellow epaulets on its wings. The adult female has drab olive-brown plumage.

Red-winged blackbirds are some of the most widespread of the true blackbirds. It breeds in marshes and wetlands throughout much of temperate and subtropical North America. The red-winged blackbird is an insectivorous passerine. It forages in grassland, open water, and agricultural fields, often in large flocks.

As such, these black birds can be found in many different types of habitats throughout Michigan. Some of the most common places to find them are in wetlands, grasslands, and agricultural fields.


4. Baltimore Oriole

Image Credit: MillionPM, Pixabay

Length 6.7 to 7.5 inches 
Wingspan  9 to 11.8 inches
Weight 1.1 to 1.4 ounces

The Baltimore oriole is the state bird of Maryland. These black birds are a species of true oriole, and they are closely related to finches. They are small songbirds with stout bodies and long tails. The males have black feathers with orange or yellow patches on their heads, wings, and tails. Females usually have duller plumage.

Orioles build nests by weaving plant material together. They often use hair from mammals to bind the nest together. The female lays 3-6 eggs, which hatch after about two weeks.


5. Brown-headed Cowbird

brown-headed cowbird

Image Credit: milesmoody, Pixabay

Length 7 to 8.8 inches 
Wingspan  14 inches
Weight 1.2 to 1.8 ounces

The Brown-headed Cowbird is a small blackbird that is a common sight across North America. These birds are often seen in open fields and meadows, where they can be found foraging for food.

Brown-headed Cowbirds are known to be parasitic, meaning they will lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. The host bird will proceed to raise the chicks as its own. This often comes at the expense of their own young.


6. Bobolink

Bobolink perched on fence

Image Credit: Derek Robertson, Shutterstock

Length 6 to 8.3 inches 
Wingspan  10.5 inches
Weight 1 to 2 ounces

The bobolink is a small blackbird with a white back and wings. It is found in open fields and meadows throughout Michigan. The male bobolink is black with a white back and wings, while the female is brownish-black with a light brown back and wings. The bobolink feeds on insects, seeds, and berries.

It’s not uncommon to see a bobolink flying low to the ground, pausing every now and then to pick up food. What’s more, bobolinks are known for their loud, bubbling songs.


7. Eastern Meadowlark

male Eastern Meadowlark perched

Image Credit: Gualberto Becerra, Shutterstock

Length 7.5 to 10.2 inches 
Wingspan  14 to 16 inches
Weight 3.2 to 5.4 ounces

The Eastern Meadowlark is a black bird that can be found in Michigan. This bird is about 8 inches long and has a brown body with black streaks. The wings are brown with black spots, and the tail is black with a white tip.

Eastern Meadowlarks are known for their bright yellow breast and cheerful song. They can often be found in fields and meadows, where they hunt for insects. These birds are declining in numbers due to habitat loss.


8. Rusty Blackbird

female Rusty Blackbird on the ground

Image Credit: Paul Reeves Photography, Shutterstock

Length 8.3 to 9.8 inches 
Wingspan  14.5 inches
Weight 1.7 to 2.8 ounces

The Rusty Blackbird is a species of blackbird that breeds in North America. This bird is a migrant, spending the winters in southern parts of the United States. The males have black feathers with a rusty brown tint.

Females are also black, but their feathers have a more brownish tint. Both sexes have yellow eyes. These birds are related to the common blackbird, but they are smaller in size.


9. Brewer’s Blackbird

brewer’s blackbird on the ground

Image Credit: ArtTower, Pixabay

Length 8 to 9.8 inches 
Wingspan  14.5 inches
Weight 1.8 to 3 ounces

The Brewer’s Blackbird is a species of blackbird that is found in North America. These birds are named after the 19th-century ornithologist Thomas Brewer. The males have black feathers with a greenish sheen, while the females are dark brown. These birds can be found in open woodlands, farmland, and wetlands.

Brewer’s Blackbirds like to feed on insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. They will also eat fruits and seeds. These birds nest in trees or shrubs, often near water. The female will build the nest out of twigs, leaves, and grasses. She will then line the nest with hair, down, or feathers.

The Brewer’s Blackbird is not considered to be threatened or endangered. However, their numbers have been declining in recent years due to habitat loss and degradation.


10. Orchard Oriole

female Orchard Oriole in the tree

Image Credit: Danita Delimont, Shutterstock

Length 6 to 7 inches 
Wingspan  10 inches
Weight 0.5 to 1 ounces

The Orchard Oriole is a small icterid bird. It is about 6 to 7 inches in length and weighs about 1 ounce. The adult male has a black body with an orange-yellow breast and belly. The adult female usually has a brownish body with some yellow on the breast and flanks. The Orchard Oriole is found in open woodlands, orchards, and gardens. It feeds on insects, fruits, and nectar.

The Orchard Oriole nesting season lasts from late April to early July. The female builds a small cup-shaped nest out of grass, twigs, and leaves. The nest is usually attached to a tree branch. The female lays 3 to 5 eggs. Both parents help care for the young.

The Orchard Oriole is a songbird. The male sings a rich, musical song to attract a mate. The song is also used to defend his territory.

eagle dividerField Guide

Black birds are a species of true thrushes. The term blackbird is used in the names of many species, including some that are not black. Some examples of these are the red-winged blackbird, the yellow-breasted blackbird, and Brewer’s blackbird. Blackbirds are found in woods and fields over most of North America.

The most common blackbird in Michigan is the Red-winged Blackbird. This bird gets its name from the conspicuous red epaulets (shoulder patches) on its wings. The male is all black with these red shoulder patches, while the female is mostly brown with some black streaks. The Red-winged Blackbird is a fairly large blackbird, measuring about 8 inches in length.

Another common blackbird in Michigan is the Common Grackle. This bird is all black with a long, slender bill. The male Common Grackle has a greenish sheen to its plumage, while the female does not. This bird is slightly larger than the Red-winged Blackbird, measuring about 12 inches in length.

The third most common blackbird in Michigan is the European Starling. This bird is not naturally found in Michigan but has been introduced to the state. The European Starling is all black with white spots on its wings. This bird is much larger than the Red-winged Blackbird, measuring about 14 inches in length.

Habitat & Info

Black birds are found in nearly every habitat across Michigan. Some, like the Common Grackle, are highly adaptable and can be found in both rural and urban areas. Others, like the Brewer’s Blackbird, prefer more open habitats like marshes or farmland.

Most black birds are fairly small, ranging in size from 6 to 12 inches long. The Common Grackle is on the larger end of the spectrum. But there are many different types of black birds in Michigan, each with their own unique plumage, behaviors, and songs.

hummingbird dividerConclusion

Michigan’s black birds are as diverse as they are beautiful. From the state bird, the common raven, to the relatively rare black vulture, there’s a black bird out there for every bird lover. So get out your binoculars and start your search for these 10 types of black birds in Michigan.

You’re bound to see some of these birds no matter where you go in Michigan. So be sure to compare the pictures we’ve provided to help you identify each one. Happy watching!


Featured Image Credit: Pxhere

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.

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