Finches in Michigan (8 Species with Pictures)

Pine Siskin

In the state of Michigan, you may come across eight different types of finches. 

These are:

  • House Finch
  • Purple Finch
  • Common Redpoll
  • Hoary Redpoll
  • Red Crossbill
  • White-winged Crossbill
  • Pine Siskin
  • American Goldfinch 

Want to learn more? This book on everything to do with Finches is a fantastic read!

The most common finch species in Michigan is the American Goldfinch. Not many finches are native to the state, including the aforementioned House Finch.

There are 103 different state parks in Michigan and there are 5 different national parks. A popular place amongst bird watchers is Michigan is the Eastern Upper Peninsula. 

There have also been various sightings of finches here. If you want to learn more about these finches and how you might attract them to your garden, simply read below for some fun finch facts.

Want to attract finches? Take a look at our article!

What Finches can be seen in Michigan?

Table of Contents

1. House Finch

house finch

Fun Facts:

  • A finch’s diet is dependent on the type of beak they have. House Finches have a seed feeding beak as seeds are their main source of food. The most popular seed for them is the black oil sunflower seed. They also eat certain types of flower buds and fruits, these incluce cherries and thistle.
  • House Finches are only very small birds with a small weight range. They range from 16-27g and have only a tiny wingspan of 20-25cm.

Males of this species have a cherry red plumage whilst the females are covered in a variety of streaky brown feathers. These birds have adapted very well to manmade bird feeders and seem to prefer ones on which they can perch rather than ones with platforms. 

They have also been known to scavenge dropped pieces of food on the ground. Both in and out of the mating season, these finches are very social and they will form year-round flocks with around 100 individuals to forage together.

These birds can be found in the state of Michigan throughout the year but are usually found in the more southern regions. If you are hoping to see one of these birds in your garden then you should prepare by providing seed feeders. 

A favourite seed of these birds is black oil sunflower seeds. They are happy to use both hanging feeders as well as ones with platforms. They are not deterred by feeders swinging in the wind.

2. Purple Finch

Purple Finch

Fun Facts:

  • These birds have bills that are designed for breaking different seeds open. Their favourite seeds include black oil sunflower seeds and safflower seeds. They also enjoy eating nectar and occasionally consume flower buds.
  • Purple Finches weigh just slightly more than House Finches at 18-32g. They also have very small wingspans which range from 22-26cm.

Purple finches are often described as finches that have been dipped in raspberry juice. However, females do not have raspberry coloured feathers and instead have streaks of white and brown feathers. 

These finches do show displays of aggression and do these displays rather than attack. But if these displays do not deter the other bird, pecking attacks can occur. These aggressive acts usually occur over food sources and females are often the victors of these confrontations. 

Like lots of other finch species, the females will build the nest for her and her mate whilst the male flies around to protect the area and the female.

Purple fiches can be seen all over the state of Michigan. They are present in the northern areas of the state all year whilst they only tend to be in the southern areas outside of the breeding season.

If you want to see one of these finches in your garden, make sure to use feeders with perches instead of platforms. Fill these feeders with a variety of seed types.

3. American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

Fun Facts:

  • American Goldfinches have a beak designed for eating small seeds. Nyjer seeds being a favourite of theirs. They rarely eat anything outside of the seed family.
  • These finches are slightly smaller than the other finches that we’ve looked at, weighing only 11-20g. They also have a very tiny wingspan which measure 19-22cm.

These birds are very interesting because their feather colours change through the seasons. During the breeding seasons males are covered in bright yellow feathers and black wings. When it reaches winter these feathers become browner in colour. 

Females also have yellow feathers, they are just a much duller shade. During the breeding season, courting pairs will fly around and search for a nesting spot together before the female proceeds to build the nest. Males will fly around the nesting site, making sure to defend the female and ward off other males whilst his mate builds their nest. 

They have a variety of calls, the most well-known and distinct one produces what sounds like a spelled out po-ta-to-chip.

Whilst they are not native to Michigan, these are the most common finch species found in the state. They can be seen throughout most of the state for the whole year. But during the breeding season they only tend to be in the most northern areas of the state. 

These finches are common garden visitors, especially in winter. They feed on a variety of seeds so make sure to keep your feeders stocked with different seed types. These bird particularly like nyjer seeds and black oil sunflower seeds.

4. Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

Fun Facts:

  • These birds have beaks designed for eating seeds and, as the name suggests, they mostly eat seeds from the pine family. As well as seeds, they have also been known to forage for small insects, these insects are usually aphids.
  • Pine Siskins are very similar in size to the American Goldfinch, weighing in at a range of 12-18g. Like other finches, they also have small wingspans of 18-22cm.

Pine Siskins are covered in streaky brown feathers and are somewhat known for their tiny bills. These finches stay in colonies that seem to have a loose structure rather than a complete hierarchy. This colony will stay together even during the mating season. 

To court a female, a male will perform his unique mating song from a high up perch. These birds tend to get a little aggressive towards other individuals of the colony during the winter months. This aggression tends to be surrounding the scarce food sources.

These finches can be seen all around Michigan. They are only present in the southern and central regions of the state outside of their breeding season whilst they are present to the north of the state throughout the whole year.

 During the winter these birds will greatly expand their search for food and this is when you are more likely to see one visiting your garden. As the name suggests, these birds are a big fan of pine seeds so make sure you have appropriate feeders that are fully stocked.

5. Hoary Redpoll

Hoary Redpoll

Fun Facts:

  • These birds primarily feed on a whole range of seeds. During the summer they have also been seen eating insects and spiders.
  • These finches weigh the same as the Common Redpoll, with a range of 11-20g.

The Hoary Redpoll is a finch primarily covered in white and grey feathers. Males of the species have a small patch of red feathers on their heads. During their courting, males will sing to the females and then will proceed to feed any receptive females to solidify the courtship. 

As with most finches, the females will be the ones to build the nests during the breeding season. This nest looks a little bit like a large cup made of woven grass. 

It seems as though the males of this species are monogamous, but there have been reports of females accepting courting behaviour from several different males in the flock.

Hoary Redpolls are not as common in Michigan as the other finches that we have talked about. They are only seen in Michigan outside of the breeding seasons and have only been seen to range across the most northern areas of the state. 

These birds are less receptive to bird feeders, but will visit them in the winter when food is scarce. Stock your bird feeders with nyjer seeds if you want to attract a flock.

6. Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll

Fun Facts:

  • These birds only have very small bills meaning they can only eat tiny seeds.
  • They are average sized for a finch, weighing 11-20g.

Male Common Redpolls have a frosty red plumage and a red head, females have the red heads but no red on their plumage. During courtship, a male will display to a female by flying in slow circles whilst producing a mating call.

 Males have also been known to feed the females during courting When it comes to nesting, females will be the ones to both pick the nesting site and build the nest. 

These finches will build their nests from material such as twigs and grass. These finches can make roosting tunnels under the snow to burrow and stay warmer during the winter months.

These finches have been seen all around the state of Michigan, however they are not there all year. They are only present outside of the breeding seasons, mainly in winter. 

Make sure to keep your feeders out and stocked in winter as this is when the Common Redpoll is most likely to visit. Your feeders will need to hold small seeds, nyjer seeds are a favourite of theirs.

7. Red Crossbill

Red Crossbill

Fun Facts:

  • The Red Crossbills mostly feed on seeds, particularly pine seeds. During the summer they will also sometimes eat insects.
  • Due to their varied and unstudied sizes, there is no average weight range for this bird.

The Red Crossbill looks much like the name would suggest. They have a body that is covered in deep red feathers and a grey, curved bill that crosses over itself. 

These finches will form very large flocks and these flocks will stay together even in the breeding season. Breeding pairs of these birds will roost close to each other in the flocks. 

Red Crossbills are monogamous during the breeding season, only mating with one other bird in the flock. However, it isn’t known if this mate is the same one each year.

Red Crossbills have been seen all around Michigan, though the time of year determines where they are in the state. They are only present in the north and central regions for the whole year and only go to the south of the state outside of the breeding seasons. 

These birds are not frequent garden visitors so you will be very lucky if you attract one of them. Make sure to utilise seed feeders and fill them with pine seeds. Keep them stocked in winter as this is when they are most likely to visit.

8. White-Winged Crossbill

White-Winged Crossbill

Fun Facts:

  • These birds mostly eat seeds throughout the year but have been known to eat insects in the summer as well.
  • These birds are on the larger side of average for finches and weigh 22-28g.

Much like the Red Crossbill, these birds look very similar to their names. They have a small bill that crosses over and whilst their wings are black they have very distinct white tips. Males have deep red feathers on their heads and their bellies as well.

These birds will occasionally perform courting displays in groups of males, they will all sing their mating songs perched on some branches. If the female likes their song the next step is for the male to feed her. 

Males of this species are the ones who raise the young and take care of the eggs. During this time the female will mate with other males to increase the flock’s offspring.

The distribution of this species is very similar to that of the Red Crossbill. They can be found all across Michigan, they are in the north and central areas of the state throughout the year whereas they only go to the south of the state outside of the breeding season. 

These finches don’t often go to gardens and bird feeders, but they will occasionally in winter when food sources are scarce. Make sure to have feeders appropriate for holding seeds and keep them stocked well in the colder months.


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We are avid bird-watchers who recently retired, allowing us more time to travel the world. Fortunately, we have managed to visit numerous countries around Europe, Asia, and America. Watching and photographing birds has been a passion for many years and we are making the most of the extra time on our hands!

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