Winter Birds of Michigan ID Guide (& Winter bird feeding Tips)

Author: Tammy Poppie
Updated:
Reviewed by:
american robin perched on snowy branch in winter

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Winter Birds of Michigan ID Guide (& Winter bird feeding Tips)

Author: Tammy Poppie
Updated:
Reviewed by:
american robin perched on snowy branch in winter

This post contains affiliate links, and we will be compensated if you buy after clicking on our links.

More than 60 bird species remain in Michigan for winter while others come just for the snowy season. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a guide that tells you all the birds you can expect to see in Michigan during winter? And who wouldn’t want color photos to identify the birds as well as their favorite feeder foods to entice them closer?

Look no further, everything you need to know is in this article including color photos of each Michigan winter bird for easy identification, their winter diet & habitat info, range maps to determine if they’re likely to be found in your particular area, and the winter feeder foods they love so you can entice them with for a closer look.

I’ve been backyard birdwatching in Wisconsin for more than 25 years and have seen many of the same winter birds. While winter isn’t my favorite season (especially when the temps are below zero and the icy winds howl) I’m thankful I have the winter birds to look forward to. Somehow, winter birds make the season more bearable.

Michigan Winter Bird List

No matter where you live in Michigan you’re sure to enjoy plenty of wild birds during the chilliest season of the year. In fact, there are more than 60 species of birds you can expect to see. Below are all bird species found in Michigan during winter.

American Goldfinch
American Robin
American Tree Sparrow
Bald Eagle
Barred Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Black-Capped Chickadee
Blue Jay
Canada Goose
Carolina Wren
Cedar Waxwing
Cooper’s Hawk
Dark-Eyed Junco
Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Screech-Owl
European Starling
Field Sparrow
Golden-Crowned Kinglet
Great Blue Heron
Great Gray Owl
Great Horned Owl

Gyrfalcon
Hairy Woodpecker
Herring Gull
Hoary Redpoll
Horned Lark
House Finch
House Sparrow
Mallard
Mourning Dove
Northern Bobwhite
Northern Cardinal
Northern Flicker
Northern Goshawk
Northern Mockingbird
Northern Shrike
Pileated Woodpecker
Pine Siskin
Purple Finch
Red Crossbill
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Red-Breasted Nuthatch

Red-Headed Woodpecker
Red-Shouldered Hawk
Red-Winged Blackbird
Rock Pigeon
Rough-Legged Hawk
Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Short-Eared Owl
Snow Bunting
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Tufted Titmouse
White-Breasted Nuthatch
White-Crowned Sparrow
White-Throated Sparrow
White-Winged Crossbill
Wild Turkey
Wood Duck
Yellow-Rumped Warbler

What birds stay in Michigan in the winter?

Michigan Winter Bird Identification Guide

A list of winter birds is only useful if you can identify them out your back window. No worries! Below is the complete list of Michigan winter birds along with color photos & appearance descriptions of the male vs female of each species, range maps, diet & feeder food information as well as detailed habitat explanations. Enjoy!

Herring Gull in Winter

Herring gull
Herring gull. Photo by Ray Harrington on Unsplash

Appearance: The herring gull is a large bird about 25″ long. They’re pal gray above with a white head and underparts. The head has brown specks except for the summertime when it’s pure white. They have yellow eyes and bills, and pink legs.

Diet: Fish, marine life (shellfish, sea urchins, crabs…), insects, other bird eggs, and bird nestlings.

Feeder food: They don’t visit feeders.

Habitat: Open water areas both coastal and inland.

Migration: Herring gulls are migrators. In winter, they either remain in their year-round range (southern Alaska and east cost south to South Carolina) or migrate south to Washington, the west coasts of Oregon & California, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, southwest Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, and Mexico’s coasts.

Range Map

Herring gull range map.
Herring gull range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Rough-Legged Hawk in Winter

Rough-legged hawk headshot.
Rough-legged hawk. Image by Светлана.

Appearance: The rough-legged hawk is about 19-21″ long and dark brown with white streaks throughout, a dark brown spotted belly, and tails & wings have dark edges. The females are similar but have lighter heads and the belly patch is solid dark brown. There are 2 variations of this bird – a light and a dark.

Winter diet: Small & medium mammals (e.g. voles, rabbits, gophers) and birds.

Winter feeder food: They are not feeder birds.

Winter habitat: Open fields, deserts, and commercial areas with wide open spaces.

Migration: Rough-legged hawks are migrators. In the winter they migrate south into every US state except Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and the southernmost edge of Canada.

Range Map

Rough-legged hawk range map.
Rough-legged hawk range map.

Gyrfalcon in Winter

Gyrfalcon looking straight ahead
Gyrfalcon. Image by Steve Crowhurst.

Appearance: Gyrfalcons are enormous birds about 19-26″ long. The more regal variety of this bird is white with black spots. However, they do come in other shades including white, gray, and dark brown. The wings, back, and tails are barred with either gray or dark brown. The wings and tail are long. The females are the same but much larger.

Winter diet: Birds and small mammals (e.g. rabbits, squirrels).

Winter feeder food: Not feeder birds.

Winter habitat: Gyrfalcons prefer the northern tundra both inland and along the coasts where seabirds and waterfowl are on the menu. Occasionally they can be found along the edges of forested areas. In lower elevations, they are found in open areas.

Migration: Gyrfalcons are migrators. In the winter they can be found in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North & South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and all Canadian provinces.

Gyrfalcon range map.
Gyrfalcon range map.

Northern Goshawk in Winter

Northern goshawk.
Northern goshawk. Image by Melani Marfeld.

Appearance: Northern goshawks are large birds about 21-30″ long.

Winter diet: Mammals (e.g. rabbits, squirrels), large birds (e.g. grouse, woodpeckers, blue jays, crows), and even carrion.

Winter feeder food: They don’t eat feeder food.

Winter habitat: This bird prefers forest areas comprised of both coniferous and deciduous trees.

Migration: Northern goshawks are migrators. In the winter they are widespread throughout the US including Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North & South Dakota, Nebraska, Illinois, and Ohio, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and New England as well as Canada and Mexico.

Range Map

Northern goshawk range map.
Northern Goshawk range map.

Great Gray Owl in Winter

great gray owl
Great gray owl. Image by sharkolot from Pixabay

Appearance: Great gray owls are large birds about 24-33″ in length. They’re brown, silver, and white streaked, have very large heads, and have a large relatively flat face. Their eyes are close together and bright yellow and their beak is orange. Females are the same except bigger.

Winter diet: Small mammals.

Winter feeder food: Great gray owls are not feeder birds.

Winter habitat: The great gray owl prefers dense and moist evergreen forests in the far north.

Migration: Great gray owls are not migrators. In the winter they can be found in Alaska, northeast Washington, northern Idaho, western Montana, central Oregon, eastern California, western Wyoming, northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, New England, and all Canadian provinces (except Nunavut).

Range Map

Great gray owl range map
Great gray owl range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Hoary Redpoll in Winter

hoary redpoll perched on a pine branch
Hoary redpoll. Photo by Patrice Bouchard on Unsplash

Appearance: Hoary redpolls are small birds about 5″ long with brown/gray streaks throughout, pink belly, charcoal tail & wings, and the infamous red patch on the forehead. Their bill is yellow, short, and stubby. Females are similar with less streaking and a white belly.

Winter Diet: Seeds (especially birch, alder, willow, and grasses).

Winter Feeder Food: Thistle (nyjer) seed.

Winter Habitat: Hoary redpolls are northern birds. In winter they settle in Alaska, the northern parts of North Dakota, Minnesota, and Michigan, and Canada’s Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, northeast Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.

Migration: Hoary redpolls are migrators. In winter they migrate south to Alaska, the northern parts of North Dakota, Minnesota, and Michigan, and Canada’s Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, northeast Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.

Range Map

Hoary redpoll range map.
Hoary redpoll range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Northern Shrike in Winter

Northern shrike perched on the top of a tree
Northern shrike. Photo by Joe Becker.

Appearance: Northern shrike is a medium-sized bird about 9.5″ long. They’re gray with white bellies, black wingtips & tails, and a black mask that extends from each eye back to the ear area. Their short bill is notched at the end. Females are the same. Immature northern shrikes are browner.

Winter Diet: Birds, and small mammals.

Winter feeder food: They may show up at the feeder to hunt feeder birds!

Winter habitat: Northern shrikes prefer the northern tundra regions, especially where the thick forest meets the tundra. They also are found in open areas.

Migration: Northern shrikes are migrators. In the winter they migrate south into the northern and western US states, southern Alaska, and Canada’s northern provinces.

Range Map

Northern shrike range map.
Northern shrike range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Snow Bunting in Winter

snow bunting perched on a rock
Snow bunting. Image by Image by Dr. Georg Wietschorke from Pixabay

Appearance: Snow buntings are medium-sized birds about 6″ long. They’re all white with black wingtips and a black & white tail, and a short stubby bill. During the non-breeding season, they have rusty patches on the upper areas (crown, ear, and shoulder) as well as dark streaks along the back. Females are similar except their backs are brown and their heads are spotted brown. During the non-breeding season, the females have additional rusty spots on the ears and chest.

Winter diet: Grass, flower seeds.

Winter feeder food: They don’t visit feeders.

Winter habitat: Snow buntings prefer treeless regions in the cold, upper north region of North America. They prefer rocky areas, thick vegetation, and open fields.

Migration: Snow buntings are migrators with a very minute year-round range in western Alaska.
Year-round range: Western coast of Alaska.
Breeding range: Alaska, Northern Canada provinces of the Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.
Winter range: US states in the northern half as well as Canada’s British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, southern Ontario, and southern Quebec.

Range Map

Snow bunging range map.
Snow bunging range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

White-Winged Crossbill in Winter

White-winged crossbill  perched on a branch
White-winged crossbill (immature male). Image by Hans Toom from Pixabay

Appearance: The white-winged crossbill is a medium-sized bird about 6″ long with a rosy pink color, black wings & tail, and two white wingbars. The females are similar but they are more yellow rather than rosy-pink. Immature white-winged crossbills are browner and streaked underneath.

Winter diet: Seeds, especially from cones of spruce and tamarack trees (their crossbill is uniquely designed to pry open the cones) but they’ll also eat seeds from other trees including pines, hemlocks, cedar, birch, etc.

Winter feeder food: Unlikely to visit a feeder.

Winter habitat: White-winged crossbills prefer northern regions thickly forested with spruce, hemlocks, and tamarack trees.

Migration: White-winged crossbills do not migrate. However, when their primary food source “cones” become scarce in their year-round range they commonly head further south in search of more.
Year-round range: Alaska, northern Washington, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan & New England, and all Canadian provinces.
Winter range: The year-round range as well as northern Montana, North Dakota, south into Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and New England.

Range Map

White-winged crossbill range map.
White-winged crossbill range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Wood Duck in Winter

Male wood duck floating on water
Wood duck (male). Image by lkbeach.
Female wood duck gliding across water
Wood duck (female). Photo by Ray Hennessy.

Appearance: The wood duck is a large bird about 19-22″ long and the male sports an array of colors. The male’s head and crest are metallic purplish-green, the sides of the face are black, a white stripe runs along the neck and a smaller one goes up each cheek. Their chest and the rump are dark red, and the sides are olive-yellow with black & white stripes on the edges, the belly is white, tail and back are black. The eyes are red, bill white with red on each side. The top of the bird’s head and crest are metallic purplish-green. The sides of the face are black, and a white stripe runs along the neck. A small white stripe also extends up each cheek. The chest and the rump are dark red, and the sides are a drab yellow with black and white stripes at the edges. The wood duck’s belly is white, its tail and back are black, and its wings are black and blue. The female looks vastly different. She is gray-brown with a white-speckled breast

Winter Diet: During winter, when water plants and insects become scarce, wood ducks will eat seeds, nuts, and grains.

Feeder food: They don’t visit feeders.

Winter habitat: During winter, many wood ducks remain in their year-round range along the pacific coast as well as the easter half of the US. Other wood ducks will migrate further south and inland including the states of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and Mexico. Wet areas including swamps, marshes, streams & creeks as well as small lakes.

Range Map

Wood duck range map
Wood duck range map.

Short-Eared Owl in Winter

short eared owl
Short eared owl. Image by cadop from Pixabay

Appearance: Short-eared owls are medium-sized owls at about 14-17″ long. They’re brown spotted birds with tan, white, and ivory on the upper parts. The face is lighter and the eyes are yellow surrounded by black. As you would expect, their ears are so short they appear to be missing. Females are the same.

Winter Diet: Small mammals such as shrews, moles, rabbits, gophers, bats, and rodents in which they first decapitate and then swallow the prey whole.

Winter Feeder food: Short-eared owls do not visit feeders.

Habitat: In winter, short-eared owls inhabit most of the entire northern hemisphere including the US, Canada, and Mexico. They prefer open grassland areas so they can perch on the ground or low in trees looking for prey.

Range Map

Short-eared owl range map.
Short-eared owl range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Swamp Sparrow in Winter

Swamp sparrow perched on small branch with soft golden background.
Swamp sparrow.

Appearance: Swamp sparrows are small birds about 5-6″ long. They sport an array of colors including blue/gray on its head with a rust-colored crown and a black stripe that connects to the cone-shaped bill. The tail is brown and points up – legs are relatively long for a sparrow. The female looks the same.

Winter Diet: Seeds, fruits & invertebrates.

Winter Feeder food: They don’t usually visit feeders.

Winter habitat: For winter, some swamp sparrows remain in their small year-round range in parts of Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New England while many more migrate to the southern US states, along the pacific coast, and Mexico and a small patch in Arizona. As their name implies they prefer to be near water as well as vegetation near water.

Range Map

Swamp sparrow range map.
Swamp sparrow range map.

Red-Shouldered Hawk in Winter

red shouldered hawk
Red-shouldered hawk. Photo by Aaron Doucett.

Appearance: Red-shouldered hawks are large birds of prey about 17-24″ in length with broad, brownish-red shoulders (wings) and breasts, round heads with curved beaks, dark eyes, and black tails with white stripes. The female looks the same.

Winter Diet: Small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds.

Winter Feeder food: They don’t dine on feeder food.

Winter Habitat: During winter, red-shouldered hawks remain in their year-round range which includes states in the eastern half of the US as well as the Oregon & California coast. Some migrate further south into southern Texas and Mexico. They prefer wooded areas with deciduous trees and often streamsides and swamps.

Range Map

Red-shouldered hawk range map.

Great Blue Heron in Winter

great blue heron wading in water
Great blue heron. Image by terrysartifacts.

Appearance: Great blue herons are enormous waterbirds about 45-55″ long. They have a large body with blue/gray feathers, long legs, a white face with a black streak on the cheek and crown, a long pointy orange bill, and a curvy neck which they often curl into the shape of an “S”.

Winter diet: Fish, frogs, salamanders, turtles, snakes, insects, small mammals, and birds.

Winter feeder food: They don’t visit feeders.

Winter habitat: In winter, great blue herons remain in their year-round range which includes most of the US and some migrate south into Mexico. They prefer calm fresh water, rivers, and shallow coastal areas.

Range Map

Great blue heron range map.
Great blue heron range map.

Golden-Crowned Kinglet in Winter

Golden-crowned kinglet
Golden-crowned kinglet. Photo by Patrice Bouchard on Unsplash.

Appearance: Golden-crowned kinglets are small birds about 4″ long, olive-green in color with crowns striped with reddish/orange and white stripes above & below eyes. Females are the same except for their crowns are yellow instead.

Winter diet: Seeds and whatever insects they can uncover.

Winter feeder food: Suet

Winter habitat: While some golden-crowned kinglets remain in their year-round mountainous range for winter (including the Pacific coast & New England), even more birds migrate south and east to inhabit every US state. In winter they prefer conifers, deciduous forests, suburbs, swamps, bottomlands, and scrubby habitats.

Range Map

Golden-crowned kinglet  range map
Golden-crowned kinglet range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

White-Crowned Sparrow in Winter

white-crowned sparrow perched on a chair
White-crowned sparrow. Photo by Ann Spiers.

Appearance: The white-crowned sparrow is a small bird about 7″ long. Mostly brown with a gray throat & chest, black & white striped crown, and a small thin pink bill. The female is the same.

Winter diet: Seeds and berries.

Winter feeder food: Black-oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower, cracked corn, millet, and milo.

Winter habitat: White-crowned sparrows migrate for the winter. While some head as far south as Mexico and the Caribbean, many are found in the northern regions of the US as far north as British Columbia in the west, Wisconsin in the midwest, and Pennsylvania in the east. Some remain in their year-round range along the pacific coast. They prefer open areas with shrubby thickets, open meadows, and forest edges.


White-crowned sparrow range map.
White-crowned sparrow range map. .

Yellow-Rumped Warbler in Winter

yellow rumped warbler perched on a branch in winter
Yellow-rumped warbler. Image by Michael.

Appearance: The male is slate gray with a black mask and beak. Yellow patches on the sides of its lower belly, head, and rump. White and gray striped throughout chest and belly.
The female is similar but duller in color and browner than she is slate gray.

Winter diet: berries.

Winter feeder food: Peanuts, suet with peanut butter.

Winter habitat: Yellow-rumped warblers migrate south for the winter inhabitingthe US as far north Ohio in the east, Washington in the west, and south into Mexico. They’re very adaptable so you can find them in the woods, bogs, forest and wooded edges, coniferous and deciduous trees, and wide-open areas.

Range Map

Yellow-rumped warbler range map.
Yellow-rumped warbler range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Field Sparrow in Winter

field sparrow perched on a branch
Field Sparrow.

Appearance: The field sparrow is a small bird about 5 1/4″ long with muted coloring throughout. Gray face with a bright white eye-ring, a rusty patch behind the eye, and a rusty crown. Underparts are gray with tan on the breast and sides. The short but stout bill is pink. The Female is similar but does not have a patch behind the eye, the crown is more muted, and the belly has light brown streaks.

Winter diet: Small seeds.

Winter feeder food: Hulled sunflower seeds, millet, and cracked corn when scattered under the feeder.

Winter habitat: Most field sparrows spend winter in their year-round range which is Illinois and states south and east of Illinois, plus Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Yet, some may head a bit west and south in the same states mentioned. They prefer brushy woodlands with clearings and fields of tall grasses.

Range Map

Field sparrow range map.
Field sparrow range map.

Carolina Wren in Winter

carolina wren on a fence singing
Carolina wren. Photo by Joshua J. Cotten .

Appearance: The Carolina wren is a small bird about 5 1/2″ long, chunky shape with deep rusty brown above and cinnamon color below. Bold white stripe above the eye and throat. Down curved bill.

Winter diet: Insects and spiders.

Winter feeder food: Hulled sunflower seeds, peanut hearts, and suet.

Winter habitat: Carolina wrens spend winter in their year-round range which includes the states south and east of Nebraska, the far southern parts of Ontario, and the eastern portions of Mexico. They prefer brushy woods and wooded backyards.

Range Map

Carolina wren range map
Carolina wren range map.

Bald Eagle in Winter

a bald eagle flying in the air
Bald eagle. Image by Sven Lachmann.

Appearance: The bald eagle is the United State’s national bird. It’s enormous at about 30-38″ in length with an equally impressive wingspan. They’re brown with a white head and tail, gold bill, and yellow eyes. Males and females look the same.

Winter Diet: Bald eagles are opportunistic eaters but prefer fish. They’ll also eat small mammals, other birds, carrion (dead animals), and anything they can retrieve from the garbage.

Winter feeder food: Bald eagles do not visit feeders (Thank goodness!)

Winter habitat: During winter, bald eagles expand their range to include the entire US, and western British Columbia. They prefer to be near open lakes, rivers, marshes, and coasts so they can fish.

Range Map

Bald eagle range map.
Bald eagle range map.

Wild Turkey in Winter

a wild turkey walking through grass
Wild turkey (male). Photo by William Stark on Unsplash
wild turkey walking across snow
Wild turkey. Image by Mohan Nannapaneni.

Appearance: Wild turkeys are enormous birds about 45″ long with long necks, large prominent red wattles, and snoods (hanging skin from the neck), and a bronze-greenish iridescence to most of their feathers. The feathers also give the appearance of a variety of textures. Their wings are dark, with white bars and a fanned-out tail with rusty or white tips. Their head and neck show their skin with colors of red, blue, and gray. The red neck is unmistakable. The females are similar but lighter in color, they don’t fan their tail feathers, have subtle-looking wattle and snood, and don’t strut like the males.

Winter diet: Seeds, nuts (acorns, beech nuts, pecans, hickory nuts), and berries.  

Winter feeder food: Wild turkeys do not come to feeders.

Winter habitat: During winter, wild turkeys remain in their year-round territory which includes all US states, the southernmost parts of Canada, and even Mexico. They prefer open forested areas, especially those with nut-producing trees. In the southwest, they can be found in open grassy savannahs.

Wild turkey range map.
Wild turkey range map.

White-Throated Sparrow in Winter

White throated sparrow perched on a branch
White-throated sparrow. Photo by Joshua J. Cotten.

Appearance: The white-throated sparrow is a small bird about 6-7″ long. They’re brown with a gray chest & belly and have a small yellow spot between their eyes (lore). They also have a white patch on their throat & crown, and white or tan stripes alternating with black stripes. Females and males are the same.

Winter diet: Seeds.

Winter feeder food: Millet and sunflower seeds.

Winter habitat: White-throated sparrows migrate south for the winter and can be found in the eastern half of the US as well as Oregon & California coasts, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. They prefer forested areas of coniferous and deciduous trees.

Range Map

White-throated sparrow range map.
White-throated sparrow range map.b.

Sharp-Shinned Hawk in Winter

sharp shinned hawk perched on a snowy branch in winter
Sharp-shinned hawk.

Appearance: The sharp-shinned hawk is a medium-sized bird about 10-14″ long. They are blueish/gray above with a dark cap that blends into the nape and white underneath with reddish/brown horizontal stripes. The female is the same but about 2-3″ larger than the male.

Winter diet: Birds smaller than 12″ long and small mammals.

Winter feeder food: They don’t visit feeders.

Winter habitat: During winter, sharp-shinned hawks can be found in western British Columbia and throughout the US (except in the Dakotas and Nebraska). Some are even found in Mexico. They prefer forests, forest edges, and urban areas where their prey is found.

Range Map

Sharp-shinned hawk range map
Sharp-shinned hawk range map.

Rock Pigeon in Winter

Rock Pigeon
Rock Pigeon. Photo by Kieran Somerville.

Appearance: The rock pigeon is a large bird about 12-14″ long, chubby with blue/gray wings, black pointy tips, short red legs, and a black & round wide tail. The neck is iridescent. 

Winter diet: Grains and seeds. Commonly seen scavenging trash cans for food.

Winter feeder food: Millet, cracked corn, black-oil sunflower seed, safflower, peanut hearts.

Winter habitat: During winter, rock pigeons remain in their year-round range which includes all of the US, the southern part of Canada, and Mexico. They’re commonly found in cities and towns as well as farmlands

Range Map

Rock pigeon jay range map.
Rock pigeon jay range map.

Red-Headed Woodpecker in Winter

red-headed woodpecker
Red-headed woodpecker. Photo by Shawn Conlon

Appearance: Red-headed woodpeckers are medium-sized birds about 9″ long with a red head, black back, white rump, chest, and belly. They also have white patches on their wings, a black tail, and gray legs & bill. The female is the same as the male.

Winter diet: Nuts, seeds, and insects hibernating beneath tree bark.

Winter feeder food: Suet and hulled peanuts.

Winter habitat: During winter, red-headed woodpeckers stay within their year-round range which includes the midwest states (except the Dakotas), and most states east and south of there. They prefer open woodlands especially when ample deciduous trees are present.

Range Map

Red-headed woodpecker  range map.
Red-headed woodpecker range map.

Red Crossbill in Winter

red crossbill on snow in winter
Red Crossbill.

Appearance: The red crossbill is a small bird about 6.2″ long, dark red-orange with brown singes and tail. Their bill is long, pointed, and “crossed”. A brighter color of red on the head and rump. No crown. The female and young are pale yellow and gray.

Winter diet: Seeds – especially those inside pinecones. The bird’s “crossbill” is designed to pry open pinecones to get at the seed inside.

Winter feeder food: Black oil sunflower seed and sometimes thistle.

Winter habitat: Red crossbills either remain in their year-round territory for winter or expand south to create a wide winter range that includes Canada, the Pacific Northwest, states west of the Great Plains, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusettes. They prefer mature coniferous forests.

Range Map

Red crossbill range map.
Red crossbill range map.

Pine Siskin in Winter

pine siskin perched on a branch with berries in winter
Pine siskin. Photo by Ann Spiers.

Appearance: The pine siskin is a small brown bird about 5″ long with streaks on the back, breast, and belly. There’s a faint yellow in the wing bars at the end of the tail. The female is similar but has less yellow on the wings and tail.

Winter diet: Seeds.

Winter feeder food: Nyjer, black-oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, and suet.

Winter habitat: Pine siskins expand their range considerably during winter and inhabit all US states, the southern parts of Canada, and even Mexico. They prefer open areas and wooded edges.

Range Map

Pine siskin range map.
Pine siskin range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Pileated Woodpecker in Winter

pileated woodpecker climbing tree in winter
Female pileated woodpecker. Photo by Anne Spiers

Appearance: A large bird about 19″ in length. They’re mostly black with white stripes on their face and neck with white underwings. The flaming red triangle-shaped crest is unmistakable and the male also has a red stripe on his cheek. The female is the same except her crest does not go all the way to her bill. And, she does not have a red stripe on her cheek.

Winter diet: Insects that they drive out of hibernation from beneath the tree bark – especially carpenter ants.

Winter feeder food: Suet, shelled peanuts, safflower seed, sunflower seed.

Winter habitat: Pileated woodpeckers spend winters in their year-round along the Pacific Northwest coast, the eastern half of the US, and Canada. You can find them in forested and wooded areas that offer tall deciduous (leafy trees like maple &  beech), coniferous trees (like evergreen & pine), and lower fruit & nut-bearing trees & shrubs.

Range Map

US map showing the range of the pileated woodpecker

Northern Mockingbird in Winter

Northern mockingbird standing on snow in winter
Northern mockingbird.

Appearance: Northern mockingbirds are about 10″ long. They have gray above and white below. Wings are dark gray with patches of white. They have long beaks and yellow eyes.

Winter diet: Berries and fruit left on the vines.

Winter feeder food: Suet

Winter habitat: Northern mockingbirds spend winter in their year-round range throughout the US and Mexico. They prefer thickets and brushy areas with open areas nearby.

Range Map

Northern mockingbird range map.
Northern mockingbird range map.

Northern Flicker in Winter

northern flicker standing in snow in winter
Yellow-shafted northern flicker. Photo by Misty Ladd.

Appearance: The northern flicker is a large bird about 12.5″ long. They have brown backs with black bars, a black crescent on the upper chest, and white with black spots on the belly and underparts.

• In the eastern part of their range, they are referred to as “yellow-shafted northern flickers” and have bright yellow underwings and undertail. They have a gray crown, tan face, and a red patch on the nape. The male has a black swipe on his cheek, the female does not.
• In the western part of their range, they are referred to as “red-shafted northern flickers” and have pink underwings and undertail, brown crown, gray face, and crown & nape brown. The male has a red swipe on his cheek, the female does not.

Winter diet: Insects they’re able to find hibernating beneath tree bark.

Winter feeder food: Unlikely to visit a feeder.

Winter habitat: Northern flickers spend winter throughout every state of the US, British Columbia, and the southern parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba as well as Mexico. They prefer open areas near trees.

Range Map

Northern flicker range map
Northern flicker range map.

Northern Bobwhite in Winter

bobwhite quail in winter
Northern bobwhite quail (female).

Appearance: Northern bobwhites are a type of quail and are about 10″ long. They’re reddish-brown with streaking and spotting throughout. They have a whisp of a crown (hardly noticeable), and a white stripe starts at the bill and goes over the eye all the way to the back. Their throat is also white. Females are the same except the head is brown and tan with no white streaks.

Winter diet: Seeds and leftover berries.

Winter feeder food: Seed or crack corn scattered beneath the feeder.

Winter habitat: Bobwhite quails spend winter in their year-round homes south & east of Wyoming plus Wisconsin but excluding New England. Some are also found in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. Found in rural and farm areas.

Range Map

Northern bobwhite range map
Northern bobwhite range map.

Mallard in Winter

mallard walking on snow beside water winter
Mallard (male). Image by Zuzanna Zembrzuska.

Appearance: Mallards are large ducks about 23″ long. The male has a metallic green head, chestnut breast, and yellow bill. The female is a mottled brown with an orange bill and heavily streaked dark brown.

Winter diet: Seeds, aquatic vegetation, acorns, corn, rice, and wheat.

Winter feeder food: They’re not feeder visitors.

Winter habitat: Mallards spend winter in every US state as well as British Columbia. They prefer to be around open, freshwater areas but can also be found around farmer’s fields.

Range Map

Mallard range map.
Mallard range map.

Horned Lark in Winter

horned lark in the snow

Horned lark.

Appearance: The horned lark is a medium-sized bird about 8″ long. Tan to brown with a black necklace and yellow chin. Bill is black. They have two tiny “horns” on the top of their head. The tail is black with white outer feathers.

Winter diet: Seeds.

Winter feeder food: They do not visit feeders.

Winter habitat: Horned larks spend winter throughout the US and southern British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. They prefer short grassy areas such as prairies, deserts, beach dunes, and farmers’ fields.

Range Map

Horned lark range map.
Horned lark range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Great Horned Owl in Winter

Great horned owl flying in winter
Great horned owl. Photo by Richard Lee on Unsplash

Appearance: The Great horned owl is a large bird about 22″ long. They have a large barrel-shaped body with tufts of feathers that stick up and appear as though they’re ears (but they’re not). They’re mostly brown with dark bars and specks throughout and a subtle white stripe across the throat. Large yellow eyes with a short bill.

Winter diet: Mammals and large birds.

Winter feeder food: They don’t visit feeders.

Winter habitat: Great horned owls spend all four seasons in their year-round range which includes all of Canada, the US, and Mexico. Some are even in South America. They prefer wooded areas.

Range Map

Great horned owl range map.
Great horned owl range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Eastern Screech-Owl in Winter

Eastern screech owl perched
Eastern screech owl. Image by Irene K-s from Pixabay

Appearance: The eastern screech-owl is a small owl about 8 1/2″ long with a big head, little tufts of ears sticking up, and yellow eyes. There are 2 variations of coloration – primarily reddish/brown (rufous) and primarily gray. They’re darker above with white spots and tiny streaks and underparts are marked with vertical dark streaks.

Winter diet: Their winter diet is mostly comprised of songbirds.

Winter feeder food: Eastern screech-owls do not visit feeders.

Winter habitat: Eastern screech-owls are year-round birds in their range, so they remain for winter. Their range includes Montana and the great plains eastward. They can be found in forests, wooded lots, suburban backyards, and large city parks.

Range Map

Eastern screech owl range map.
Eastern screech owl range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Cooper’s Hawk in Winter

cooper's hawk on a branch with snow falling in winter
Cooper’s Hawk.

Appearance: Cooper’s hawk is a medium-sized bird about 15-18″ long. They’re blue-gray with rusty underparts, and a black cap.

Winter diet: Medium-sized birds such as doves, jays, and robins as well as small mammals as large as squirrels.

Winter feeder food: They don’t visit feeders.

Winter habitat: Cooper’s hawks remain in their year-round range throughout winter: most of the US except for the northernmost states of northern Washington, northern Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas, Minnesota, the northern halves of Wisconsin & Michigan, and states north and east of New York. Others migrate south into Mexico for warmer temps. They prefer forests and forested areas.

Range Map

Cooper's hawk range map.
Cooper’s hawk range map.

Cedar Waxwing in Winter

cedar waxwing puffed for warmth in winter
Cedar waxwing puffed out for warmth in winter. Image by mlmclaren from Pixabay

Appearance: The cedar waxwing is about 7 1/4″ long, primarily light brown with a silky crest of the same color, yellow belly, a bright yellow tip on the tail, varying shades of brown underneath, and a touch of red at the tip of the upper wings. The beak is black, short, and pointy. Male and female adults look pretty much the same with one very subtle difference – the black on the male’s chin encompasses a slightly larger area than the female

Winter diet: Fruit that still remains on the branches and vines – especially cedar berries.

Winter feeder food: Fruit (especially oranges)

Winter habitat: Some cedar waxwings live year-round in the northern part of the US/southern part of Canada all the way from the west to the east coast while others migrate to the southern US states and Mexico for winter. They prefer open forests, orchards, and wooded residential areas, especially near berry bushes.

Range Map

US map showing the migration range of the cedar waxwing
Map depicting where cedar waxwings can be found throughout the year. Compliments of Cornell University.

Canada Goose in Winter

Canada goose walking through the snow
Canada goose. Image by Gregory Sabin from Pixabay

Appearance: The Canada goose is a large bird about 30-43″ long with a long black neck and a black head with a white “chin strap”. The body is brown and tan-white underneath.

Winter diet: Grasses and grains.

Winter feeder food: Canadian geese do not visit feeders.

Winter habitat: Many Canadian geese are year-round birds in the northern half of the US while a fair amount of them migrate south for the winter taking up seasonal residence throughout the southern half of the US and a bit into northern Mexico. They prefer suburban areas including parks, golf courses, and reservoirs.

Range Map

Canada goose range map.
Canada goose range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Tufted Titmouse in Winter

Tufted titmouse.
Tufted titmouse. Image by Gregory Sabin from Pixabay

Appearance: The tufted titmouse is a small bird about 6″ long with slate gray above, white on its chest, belly, and around the eyes. Below the wings is a patch of rusty brown, the legs are gray and the eyes are dark. They have a pointed “tuft” crest.

Winter diet: Seeds and fruits left on the branches & vines.

Winter feeder food: Suet.

Winter habitat: Tufted titmice are year-round birds in the eastern half of the US. They prefer orchards because of the fruit availability and may hang around through winter to glean whatever remains on the vines. They also live in deciduous wooded areas or mixed woods.

Tufted titmouse range map.
Tufted titmouse range map.

Song Sparrow in Winter

Song sparrow on a branch
Song sparrow puffed up to stay warm in winter. Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

Appearance: Song sparrows are small birds between 5-6″ in length with round heads and varying shades of brown streaks on the chest that converge into a central dark spot. They have dark brown eyes, short stubby beaks, and long, round tails. The females appear the same.

Winter diet: Seeds.

Winter feeder food: Unlikely to visit a feeder.

Winter habitat: Song sparrows are found throughout the US during winter as well as in British Columbia, Canada. They prefer open areas and edges of woodlands.

Range Map

Song sparrow range map.
Song sparrow range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Hairy Woodpecker in Winter

Male hairy woodpecker perched on branch in winter
Male hairy woodpecker. Image by Jennifer Beebe from Pixabay

Appearance: The hairy woodpecker is a medium-sized black-and-white bird about 9″ long with a white belly and black wings with white spots. A white stripe runs down the back. They have a red mark on the back of the head and a long black bill. The female is the same except with no red mark.

Winter diet: Seeds, nuts, and any hibernating insects they can find beneath the tree bark.

Winter feeder food: Suet, hulled peanuts.

Winter habitat: Hairy woodpeckers are year-round birds throughout the US and Canada. They prefer mature forests, urban, and suburban areas where dense trees are found.

Range Map

Hairy woodpecker range map.
Hairy woodpecker range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

European Starling in Winter

European starling singing on a branch
European starling.

Appearance: The European starling is a medium-sized bird about 7 1/2″ long with iridescent shades of purple and black with white speckles throughout. They have a long pointed gray bill in fall and yellow in spring. The tail is short. The female of the species looks the same.

Winter diet: Seeds and fruit that happen to remain on the barren branches.

Winter feeder food: Everything and anything you could offer at the feeder.

Winter habitat: Starlings are year-round birds found throughout the US and Canada. A handful of them migrates south into Mexico. They don’t have a strong preference for habitat but are commonly found in urban and residential areas including backyard lawns, parks, and fields.

European starling range map

American Tree Sparrow in Winter

American tree sparrow
American tree sparrow. Photo by Patrice Bouchard on Unsplash

Appearance: The American tree sparrow is a small bird about 6″ long. It’s brown with a tan breast and a rust-colored crown. They have a single black spot in the center of the chest, a dark upper bill, and a yellow lower bill. Eyes are accented with gray eyebrows. The female looks the same.

Winter diet: Seeds.

Winter feeder food: Black-oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, nyjer, cracked corn, and peanut hearts.

Winter habitat: American tree sparrows migrate south for the winter. They prefer wooded areas, especially on the edges.

American tree sparrow range map
American tree sparrow range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Belted Kingfisher in Winter

belted kingfisher perched with insect in mouth
Female belted kingfisher. Image by PublicDomainImages from Pixabay

Appearance: The belted kingfisher is a big bird about 13″ long with a large head, long bill, and stocky body.  They have blue/gray throughout with a white ring around neck and white chest. The female is same but with additional chestnut band on chest.

Winter diet: Mostly fish and leftover berries they find on trees & shrubs.

Winter feeder fare: Belted kingfishers will not visit a feeder.

Winter habitat: Many of these birds remain in their year-round range while others of the species will migrate southwest to southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico. The northern birds stay near bodies of water that haven’t frozen so they have access to their main food – fish.

Range Map

belted kingfisher range map
Belted kingfisher range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Barred Owl in Winter

barred owl perched on branch with a snowy winter backdrop
Barred owl. Image by Darno Bege from Pixabay


Appearance: Barred owls are large birds about 21″ long. They have large round faces with dark eyes and yellow bills. They’re primarily brown with white spots on the upperparts and tan underneath with dark brown streaks.

Winter diet: In winter, barred owls eat small mammals, other birds. If they can find them, they’ll also dine on reptiles, fish, and large insects.

Winter feeder food: Barred owls do not visit feeders.

Winter habitat: Barred owls do not migrate. They remain year round in the eastern half of the US, the Pacific Northwest coast, as well as southern portions of Canada. They prefer mature forests, especially along side water sources that don’t freeze like rivers – especially in the southern part of their range.

Range Map

Barred owl range map.
Barred owl range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

White-Breasted Nuthatch in Winter

white breasted nuthatch head first down a tree in winter
White-breasted nuthatch. Image by Gregory Sabin from Pixabay

Appearance: The white-breasted nuthatch is a small bird about 5-6″ long with a gray/blue back, white head with a black cap, chestnut under the tail, and a long thin pick-like beak. Females look similar except their cap and neck are gray.

Winter diet: Insects hibernating beneath the bark & seeds.

Winter feeder food: Suet, sunflower seed, shelled peanuts.

Winter habitat: White-breasted nuthatches are year-round birds that do not migrate for winter. They’re found throughout the US and parts of Canada. They prefer mature deciduous and mixed forests; wooded suburban areas such as orchards, parks, and backyards and are usually spotted moving head-first down a tree trunk foraging for insects beneath the bark.

Range Map

White breasted nuthatch range map
White-breasted nuthatch range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Red-Winged Blackbird in Winter

Red-winged blackbird.
Red-winged blackbird. Photo by Richard Sagredo on Unsplash
female red winged blackbird perched on a cattail
Female red-winged blackbird. Photo by Camerauthor Photos on Unsplash

Appearance: Red-winged blackbirds are medium-sized jet black birds about 8 1/2″ long with red and yellow patches on the shoulder of their upper wings. They have pointy black bill. The females are brown and heavily streaked. She has white eyebrows and a brown bill.

Winter diet: Seeds, grains, and berries if there are any leftover on the trees & shrubs..

Winter feeder food: Black-oil sunflower seed, hulled sunflower seeds, cracked corn, peanut hearts, millet.

Winter habitat: The red-winged blackbirds that traveled north for breeding will head back south for the winter around the September-December timeframe. The birds that stayed back in their year-round range for breeding remain for winter which is all of the US, British Columbia, far southern parts of Ontario, and Mexico. In winter they gather in large flocks, often with grackles, cowbirds, and starlings. It wouldn’t be uncommon to see them in your backyard.

Range Map

Red-winged blackbird range map.
Red-winged blackbird range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Red-Breasted Nuthatch in Winter

red-breasted nuthatch on a snowy branch in winter
Red-breasted nuthatch. Image by Sabine Löwer from Pixabay

Appearance: Red-breasted nuthatches are about 4.5″ long, have gray/blue backs, white heads with black stripes running over either eye, orange-cinnamon-colored breasts, and a pointy pick-like beak. Females look the same except their underside is a more faded color.

Winter diet: Insects that are hibernating beneath the tree bark.

Winter feeder food: Suet, sunflower seeds, shelled peanuts, fruit.

Winter habitat: Red-breasted nuthatches are found year-round in northern Canada. While some stay there year-round, many migrate south for the winter and can be found in every US state during that time. They’re usually spotted climbing upside-down on a deciduous tree foraging for insects beneath the bark.

Range Map

Map of the red-breasted nuthatch range
Red-breasted nuthatch range.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker in Winter

red-belied woodpecker perched on a dead tree in winter
Red-bellied woodpecker. Photo by Mark Olsen on Unsplash

Appearance: The red-bellied woodpecker is a medium-sized bird about 9 1/4″ long. They have a zebra-like striped back with a white rump. The red crown extends down the nape of the neck. The chest is tan with just a tinge of red on the belly. The females are the same except they don’t have a red crown.

Winter diet: Insects hibernate beneath the tree bark, nuts, and fruits that remain on fruit-bearing trees & shrubs.

Winter feeder food: Suet, hulled peanuts.

Winter habitat: Red-bellied woodpeckers are found in the eastern half of the US year-round. They do not migrate for winter. They prefer to be in or near forests and woodlands.

Range Map

Red-bellied woodpecker range map.
Red-bellied woodpecker range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Purple Finch in Winter

purple finch perched on a snowy branch in winter
Purple finch. Photo by Kevin Cress on Unsplash

Appearance: The purple finch is a small bird about 6″ long with a raspberry-red head with lighter shades on the breast, back, and rump. The wings and tail are brown. Females are brown with brown striped breasts and white streaks across their eyes.

Diet: Seeds, insects, and fruit.

Feeder food: Black oil sunflower seeds are their favorite.

Habitat: While some purple finches are year-round birds (especially those from the upper midwest to the east and those along the pacific coast) many head south for the winter and can be found in the eastern part of the US as well as the southernmost parts of Canada. They prefer coniferous forests in summer along with mixed forests near streams and tree-lined backyards.

Range Map

Purple finch range map.

Northern Cardinal in Winter

Cardinal on branch when snowing
Male cardinal fluffs his feathers to stay warm. Photo by Chris Chow on Unsplash
Female cardinal with a backdrop of snow
Female northern cardinal. Photo by Cheryl Anne.

Appearance: Male northern cardinals are medium-sized bright red birds about 8 1/2″ long with a black mask, red crown, orange beak, and black areas on wings and tail. The female cardinal also has an orange beak but is buff-brown with a tan crown + a tinge of red, red spots on the wings & tail.

Diet: In winter, northern cardinals primarily forage for small berries and seeds.

Feeder food: Black oil sunflower seed, safflower seed, mealworms, striped sunflower seed, hulled peanuts, and cracked corn.

Habitat: Northern cardinals are year-round birds that do not migrate for the winter. They prefer edges of wooded areas, thickets, tangled vines, city parks, and our backyards. In the southwest, they live around desert washes, areas thick with mesquite, and along the riverbanks of wooded areas.

Range Map

Northern cardinal range map
Northern cardinal range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Mourning Dove in Winter

mourning dove in snow in winter
Mourning dove. Image by Mike Goad from Pixabay

Appearance: A large bird about 12″ long smooth with fawn colors. Black spots on the wings and tail. A single black spot below and behind the eyes. Wide brown tail with white edges. Red-orange legs. Gray patch between head and back and iridescent colors around the neck. Large black eyes with light blue around the eyes. Pointy bill.

Diet: Seeds

Feeder food: Will come to eat seeds that drop below the feeder as they are ground foragers.

Habitat: Mourning doves are commonly found throughout the US in winter with the exception of North Dakota. They prefer open areas.

Range Map

Mourning dove range map.
Mourning dove range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

House Sparrow in Winter

Male house sparrow in winter on a pine branch
Male house sparrow in winter plumage. Image by SAM_MINO from Pixabay

Appearance: House sparrows are small birds about 6″ long, brown with a large grayish-edged bib (in spring & summer the bib becomes a prominent black) and chin down to the chest. White wing bar and gray belly & crown. The Female is a bit smaller, all light brown and not black.

Diet: Seeds and fruit.

Feeder food: Black oil sunflower seed, cracked corn, peanut hearts, millet, and milo.

Habitat: House sparrows are prominent and common throughout the US and Canada. They’re found around people and buildings in the city, towns, villages, suburbs, and farms.

Range Map

House sparrow range map.
House sparrow range map.

House Finch in Winter

male house finch perched on a branch in winter
Male house finch. Image by Bryan Hanson from Pixabay
female house finch on a peanut feeder
Female house finch. Photo by Tammy Poppie.

Appearance: The house finch is a small bird about 5″ long, orange/red face chest and rump. Brown wings streaked with white. White belly with brown streaks. The Female and juvenile are brown with streaks of white.

Diet: Seeds, fruit.

Feeder food: Black oil sunflower seed is their favorite.

Habitat: House finches are found year-round in the western and eastern parts of the US. They prefer to live around human dwellings (buildings, backyard trees, and shrubs, barns). Also are found in parks and other urban areas.

Range Map

House finch range map.
House finch range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Eastern Bluebird in Winter

Eastern bluebird perched on a snowy branch.
Eastern bluebird perched on a snowy branch. Photo by Misty Ladd on Unsplash

Appearance: 7″ long, royal blue, orange throat & breast, white belly & undertail. Female is similar but more muted colors

Winter Diet: Small fruit left on the branches of trees, shrubs, and vines.

Winter Feeder food: Suet, sunflower seeds, dried fruit.

Winter Habitat: Eastern bluebirds spend all four seasons in their year-round range which includes the eastern half of the US, the far southern part of Ontario, and Mexico. In winter, some will expand further south and west into Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. They prefer wide-open spaces, fields, & meadows, and will roost in tree cavities or manmade birdhouses to stay warm.

Range Map

US map showing the migration range of the eastern bluebird
Map depicting where Eastern bluebirds can be found throughout the year. Compliments of Cornell University.

Dark-Eyed Junco in Winter

Dark-eyed junco. Photo by Lonnie Gilstrap.
Dark-eyed junco. Photo by Lonnie Gilstrap.

Appearance: Dark-eyed juncos are tiny birds about 5.5″ – 6.5″ long. Males are dark gray with a white underside and pink bill. Females are the same except brownish gray.

Diet: Seeds.

Feeder food: Nyjer, black-oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, cracked corn, hulled peanuts, and suet.

Habitat: In winter, dark-eyed juncos are found across the US and southernmost parts of Canada so can be found in a variety of habitats including forested areas (both coniferous and deciduous), wide-open spaces, partially wooded edges, parks, and backyards.

Range Map

Map of the dark-eyed junco range
Map of the dark-eyed junco range.

Blue Jay in Winter

Blue jay on snowy branch
Blue jay. Photo by Cathy Cardone.

Appearance: Large bird 12″ long, medium blue & white body, blue crest (which he flattens at will), gray belly and white face. White & blue wings with black spots. Female look the same.

Diet: Fruit and seeds that remain on the trees, shrubs, and vines as well as nuts.

Feeder food: Whole peanuts, sunflower seeds, and cracked corn.

Habitat: Forested areas with mixed trees types. Also common in suburbs and urban areas.

Range Map

Blue jay range map
Blue jay range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Black-Capped Chickadee in Winter

Black capped chickadee on a branch
Black-capped chickadee. Photo by Peter Lewis on Unsplash

Appearance: Black-capped chickadees are small birds about 5 1/4″ long. They have a black cap – as well as a black throat and cheek. They have white breasts and bellies, and the body and wings are a gray-olive color with edges of white. During the winter their belly changes to a buffer tan.

Diet: Seeds, small fruits, and berries that remain on the trees, shrubs, and vines.

Feeder Food: Black-oil sunflower & safflower seeds (They peck a hole in the shell to get at the tiny seed bits inside), suet, peanut butter, and hulled peanuts.

Habitat: Black-capped chickadees are year-round birds found throughout the northern half of the US as well as most of Canada. They prefer the edges of forests and open wooded areas – including your backyard or even tree-lined parks in the city. They will also hang out in shrubs and willow thickets. Trees are still important for this bird because they are cavity nesters and offer a much-needed place to roost in winter.

Range Map

Black capped chickadee range map
Black-capped chickadee range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

American Robin in Winter

american robin perched on snowy branch in winter
American robin. Photo by Jedidiah Church on Unsplash

Appearance: Medium-size bird about 10″ long, gray/brown upper, brown/orange underparts, yellow beak, white chin, white surrounding eyes. orange beak. The Female has a lighter head and underparts.

Winter diet: In winter, robins eat berries and other fruits left on shrubs, trees, and vines.

Feeder food: Robins do not visit feeders.

Habitat: In wintertime, American robins are common and pervasive throughout the US, far southern Alaska and southwest Canada. Found in fields, parks, wooded and forested areas, mountains, and backyards.

Range Map

american robin bird on a branch
American Robin range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

American Goldfinch in Winter

American goldfinch. Photo taken with Panasonic Lumix FZ80 10' away.
American goldfinch in winter plumage. Photo taken by Tammy Poppie.

Winter appearance: The American goldfinch is a small bird about 4.5″ long. In fall, goldfinches molt their bright yellow feathers revealing a dingy brown body, duller yellow head, and thicker white stripes on their wings for winter. Females are similar to males except their wings have more white tips

Winter diet: Seeds they can glean from seed-bearing flowers (weeds, grasses) that are still standing and (dormant) insects.

Winter feeder food: Thistle seed (Nyjer)

Winter habitat: They’re a common bird in winter throughout the contiguous US. You can find them in weedy fields, roadsides, orchards, and backyards.

Winter range: American goldfinches are partial migrators. While many of them spend all four seasons of the year in their year-round range (Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and the remaining US states to the east and south (except Florida) when winter rolls around many expand west and south (western Oregon, California, southern Nevada & Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, southern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida).

Range Map

American goldfinch map range
American goldfinch range map. Compliments of The Cornell Lab.

Wrapping Up

While winter in Michigan may seem to last for an eternity, observing the winter birds makes it a bit more bearable. When spring arrives it’s time to say goodbye to the ones that came to visit just for the season and hello again to the migrators returning home to Michigan.

I hope you were able to identify the winter Michigan winter bird you’re interested in or at least learned more about them.

Happy Birding!

More than 25 years ago, Tammy put her first bird feeder outside her kitchen window. Since then she learned how to attract wild birds to her backyard. Studying the meaning & symbolism of wild birds is also a passion of hers. Read more about Tammy