Discover 5 RARE Birds in Michigan (2023 With Images)

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Are you a bird enthusiast looking for a new place to explore? Look no further than Michigan! This Midwestern state is home to a variety of rare birds, including the Kirtland’s warbler, piping plover, Henslow’s sparrow, king rail, and ferruginous hawk.

With its diverse habitats, Michigan is a haven for these special birds. Now let’s see 5 rare birds in Michigan

  • Kirtland’s warbler
  • Piping plover
  • Henslow’s sparrow
  • King rail
  • Ferruginous hawk

Where to See These Rare Birds in Michigan

Bird NameWhere to See in Michigan
Kirtland’s WarblerJack Pine forests in the northern Lower Peninsula, particularly Roscommon County.
Piping PloverSandy beaches along the Great Lakes, particularly in the Upper Peninsula.
Henslow’s SparrowGrasslands in the southern Lower Peninsula.
King RailMarshes and swamps in the southern Lower Peninsula.
Ferruginous HawkOpen fields and grasslands in the western Lower Peninsula, particularly during migration.

Related: GRAY Cranes in Michigan

Kirtland’s warbler

Kirtland's warbler
Kirtland’s warbler

The Kirtland’s Warbler is a bird species that is only found in Michigan, specifically in the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula.

This small songbird nests only in young jack pine forests found in a limited area of northern Michigan. Kirtland’s warblers have been listed as endangered, but their populations have increased in recent years.

Kirtland’s warbler, a small bird found in Michigan, is known for its bright blue-gray and yellow plumage. It nests in young jack pine forests, particularly in 5 to 20-year-old tree stands.

These birds are primarily found in Michigan but used to range into parts of Wisconsin and Ontario. They migrate to the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands in the winter and return to Michigan in the spring.

Kirtland’s warbler faced a tough time with habitat loss and was listed as endangered in 1967. Conservation efforts, like planting jack pine trees, have helped, and it was reclassified as “threatened” in 2019.

They build nests in lower pine branches and mainly feed on insects. Ongoing monitoring and habitat protection remain essential for their survival.

The Kirtland’s warbler is a symbol of successful conservation, highlighting how dedicated efforts can save endangered species.

Read More: Top 14 Beautiful Black Bird Species in The World

Piping plover

Piping plover
Piping plover

This shorebird nests on sandy beaches along the Great Lakes. It is an endangered species due to habitat loss and disturbance.

The piping plover is a small and endangered bird found along North American coastlines, especially on sandy beaches and dunes.

They’re known for their sandy color, white belly, and orange bill. Piping plovers are in trouble due to habitat loss and human disturbances, so they’re considered “threatened” or “endangered” in many places.

These birds build nests in the sand and lay well-camouflaged eggs. Their diet consists of tiny creatures found on the beach, like insects and worms.

Protecting their nesting areas and raising awareness about their needs is crucial for their survival. They face challenges from human activities and predators, and conservation efforts aim to keep them safe and thriving. Piping plovers are important for coastal ecosystems, so we must look out for them.

Read More:

Henslow’s sparrow

Henslow's sparrow
Henslow’s sparrow

This sparrow is found in grasslands and meadows. It is a threatened species due to habitat loss. Henslow’s sparrow is a small bird found in North America.

They have brown, streaked feathers and a flat, greenish face. These sparrows like to live in fields and grassy areas. They’re in trouble because their homes are disappearing, and their numbers are going down in some places.

Henslow’s sparrows build nests on the ground and eat insects, seeds, and plants they find in the grass. They have a unique, insect-like song. To help them, we need to protect and restore their grassy habitats.

These little birds play an important role in our grassland ecosystems, and we must take care of them.

King rail

King rail
King rail

This rail is found in marshes and swamps. It is a threatened species due to habitat loss. The King rail is a special bird that can be found in parts of North America, including Michigan.

It’s a large bird with reddish-brown feathers and a white patch on its cheeks. King rails live in wetlands and marshes, making them a bit hard to spot because they’re good at hiding.

Sadly, their homes are shrinking due to human activities, so they are considered a species of concern. They build nests in tall grasses near the water and eat small water creatures like insects and tiny fish.

To help these birds, we need to protect and restore their wetland homes. King rails are a vital part of these ecosystems, and we must take care of them.

Related: Types of Falcons in Alabama

Ferruginous hawk

Ferruginous hawk
Ferruginous hawk

This large hawk is found in the western United States, but it is occasionally seen in Michigan during migration. It is a predator of small mammals and reptiles.

The Ferruginous hawk is one of the biggest hawks in North America, and it’s known for its pale body with reddish-brown markings.

You can find them in open areas like grasslands and deserts in the western part of North America, from Canada to Mexico.

These hawks build nests in trees, shrubs, or on the ground and eat small mammals like ground squirrels, which helps control rodent populations.

While they’re not in immediate danger, changes in their habitat can affect them, so it’s important to protect their homes and the open spaces they live in.

Ferruginous hawks are magnificent birds that play a role in keeping our ecosystems in balance.

How to Identify Rare Birds in Michigan?

Bird NameHow to Identify
Kirtland’s WarblerBlue-gray upperparts, bright yellow underparts, white eye rings.
Piping PloverSmall, brown with a flat greenish face, short tail, and long pointed bill.
Henslow’s SparrowLarge, pale body with reddish-brown markings, a white cheek patch.
King RailLarge, pale body with reddish-brown markings, and a white cheek patch.
Ferruginous HawkVery large hawk, pale body, rusty-brown markings.


Michigan is home to a variety of rare birds, including the Kirtland’s warbler, piping plover, Henslow’s sparrow, king rail, and ferruginous hawk. These birds are all facing threats to their populations, but there are things that we can do to help them. By visiting birding hotspots, joining birding clubs, and using birding apps, we can increase our chances of seeing these rare birds and learn how to protect them.

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