11 Different Types of Herons in Michigan

Different Types of Herons in Michigan
Photo by Call Me Fred

What are the Types of herons in Michigan? Michigan is home to a diverse array of wildlife, and one of the most interesting species of birds you can find here is the heron.

Herons are wading birds with long legs and long necks found in wetlands, ponds, lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water.

In our blog post, we’ll explore the different types of herons in Michigan and provide tips on where to spot them.

1. Black-crowned Night-Heron

The Black-crowned Night-heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) is first on our list of types of herons in Michigan. It is a wading bird found in Michigan. 

Its black head, neck, and yellow bill identify this heron. The body is predominantly grey, while the legs and feet are black. Juveniles have a white head and neck with a brownish back. 

This bird is known for its nocturnal behavior and can be spotted roosting in trees during the day.

It is mainly found in the southern parts of Michigan, such as the Detroit River region, and can be observed near marshes and other wetlands.

These types of herons in Michigan prefer to feed on small fish, frogs, tadpoles, crustaceans, and aquatic insects.

They typically hunt alone or in pairs in shallow waters and can often be seen hovering over the water before diving in to catch prey. When breeding, they construct stick nests in tree tops or shrubs.

The female types of herons in Michigan will lay 3-5 blue eggs which hatch after about 21 days of incubation.

The Black-crowned Night-heron is a protected species in Michigan and is listed as “Of Special Concern” on the state’s endangered species list.

This species is vulnerable to human disturbance and habitat degradation, so it is important to take steps to protect this bird to ensure its continued existence in Michigan.

2. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

The Yellow-crowned Night-Heron is also on our list of types of herons in Michigan.

It is a medium-sized heron, typically found in marshy areas of Michigan. Its bright yellow crown feathers and red eyes can easily identify it. 

This species is migratory, so you may only see it during certain times of year in Michigan.

They are often found in wetlands, grassy areas, or wooded areas. Their diet consists mainly of small fish, crustaceans, frogs, and insects. 

During the summer months, they may also consume berries and small mammals. These types of herons in Michigan are active mainly at night, but you may also see them during the day.

If you want to observe a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron in Michigan, head to Saginaw Bay, Lake St. Clair, and Bayport Marsh.

Here, you’ll find the best opportunity to see this heron and other bird species native to the state.

You’ll also have a better chance of seeing the bird during migration season when they’re looking for food and breeding grounds.

3. Tricolored Heron

The Tricolored Heron is a species of wading bird found in Michigan. It is a medium-sized heron, about 24 inches long, and has a wingspan of about 39 inches.

The Tricolored Heron has a white underbelly, gray back and wings, and blue legs. It also has a white head and neck with a black stripe running down its neck and chest.

These types of herons in Michigan can be found in the wetlands and marshes of Michigan, usually near lakes and rivers. They usually feed on fish, frogs, insects, and small aquatic creatures. 

They are known to be solitary birds, and they build their nests in trees or shrubs close to the water’s edge.

In Michigan, the Tricolored Heron is a fairly common sight. It can be seen throughout most of the state, especially in areas with plenty of wetlands, marshes, and other bodies of water.

These types of herons in Michigan can be seen in the early morning and late afternoon when they are hunting for food.

They will often perch in trees or on the shoreline to look for prey. During the breeding season, these herons gather in large groups along the coastlines of Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and the Straits of Mackinac. 

The Tricolored Heron is an important species to Michigan’s ecosystem as it helps to keep the balance between predators and prey by preying on small fish and aquatic creatures.

This heron species is also an important part of the migratory cycle in Michigan as they migrate from the southern United States during the winter months.

The Tricolored Heron is important to Michigan’s biodiversity and should be protected and preserved for future generations.

4. American Bittern

The American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) is a heron species native to Michigan.

It is a stocky, medium-sized wading bird with brown-streaked, reddish-brown upperparts, a buff belly and neck, and a white streak down the center of its back. It has a long, straight bill with a yellowish base and a black tip. 

The American Bittern can be found throughout Michigan in wetland and marsh habitats.

They often stand on one leg with their head tucked back into their shoulders. They feed mainly on fish, frogs, crustaceans, and insects.

5. Tricolored Herons

The Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor) is another species of heron found in Michigan.

This heron has a slender body with a blue-gray head, neck, upperparts, a white throat and belly, and dark legs.

The Tricolored Heron can be found in shallow wetlands, marshes, swamps, and along the shorelines of lakes and rivers. 

These types of herons in Michigan feed mainly on fish, frogs, crustaceans, and aquatic invertebrates.

They gather in large nesting colonies near suitable wetland habitats during breeding.

6. Least Bittern

The least bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) is the smallest heron species in Michigan and one of the smallest herons in North America.

It is a dark brown bird with a yellowish-orange neck and a short bill. The least bittern can be found in reed beds, marshy meadows, creeks, and rivers. 

They are most active during dawn and dusk when they hunt for small fish, insects, and other aquatic life.

Although they are more elusive than other types of herons in Michigan, they can be spotted if you watch for their distinctive “peeping” calls.

7. Snowy Egret

The Snowy Egret is a species of heron native to North America. It is mainly found along the Atlantic coast from Canada down to Mexico and the Pacific coast from Alaska down to Mexico.

It is a fairly small species of heron, reaching an average size of about 28 inches long with a wingspan of around 40 inches. 

The Snowy Egret has white plumage, black legs, and a yellow bill. This heron species is usually found near marshes, lagoons, swamps, rivers, and other shallow waters.

They are often seen wading in the shallows looking for food such as fish, frogs, and insects.

The Snowy Egret is a great example of the beauty and diversity of the heron species found in Michigan. Its graceful white feathers and long legs give it an elegance that cannot be ignored.

While this species can be found along many of the coasts, they are rarely seen in the interior of Michigan due to the lack of suitable habitat.

 However, they can be found in parts of the state during migration periods when they come down from Canada or other points north to spend the winter here.

While the Snowy Egret is not a common sight in Michigan, those lucky enough to spot one should take some time to admire its beauty.

Its long legs and elegant white feathers make it a sight to behold, and its presence serves as a reminder of the incredible wildlife that calls Michigan home.

8. Great Egret

The Great Egret is next on our list of types of herons in Michigan. It is a white heron that is found in many parts of Michigan.

It can be seen in wetland areas, wetlands, and wooded areas, usually around bodies of water. 

The Great Egret stands up to three feet tall and has a wingspan of up to six feet. Its long neck helps it fish in the shallow waters of its preferred habitats. Its feathers are mainly white with yellow, gray, and black hints.

The Great Egret may be spotted in large flocks during the breeding season. The nests are usually high in trees or tall structures and have up to four eggs per clutch.

These types of herons in Michigan are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will eat whatever is available, from small fish to frogs, lizards, and even insects.

The Great Egret is an important part of Michigan’s wildlife, as it helps maintain its ecosystem balance. It eats small fish, which keeps larger predator populations in check.

Seeing these beautiful birds flying over Michigan’s lakes, wetlands, and forests is also a majestic sight.

9. Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron is a very large species of heron found in Michigan. It can grow up to four feet tall and weigh up to seven pounds.

They are recognizable by their gray feathers and long, sharp beak. 

Great Blue Herons have an impressive wingspan of over five feet and can fly up to 30 mph. They are found in Michigan’s wetlands, streams, ponds, marshes, and lakes.

Great Blue Herons are solitary birds that feed on small fish, frogs, insects, snakes, and other animals. They can also be seen in urban areas and gardens. 

The Green Heron is a small species of heron found in Michigan. It stands around two feet tall and has an overall green coloration with a gray-brown back.

These types of herons in Michigan prefer to stay near the shoreline and can often be seen wading in shallow water or perching on vegetation.

Its diet consists mainly of small fish, frogs, aquatic insects, crustaceans, and other small animals. They can also be found in wooded areas and wet meadows. 

10. Little Blue Heron

Michigan is home to many species of herons, from the majestic Great Blue Heron to the smaller and more elusive Little Blue Heron.

These beautiful types of herons in Michigan are commonly seen around wetlands and near bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and ponds.

Depending on the season and habitat, these different types of herons can be found throughout Michigan.

The Great Blue Heron is perhaps the most common in Michigan, with a range that stretches across the entire state.

Michigan’s large types of herons have a wingspan of around four feet and can often be seen along the coastlines or in open fields near wetlands.

The Great Blue Heron is a great fish eater, preying on various fish species and even small mammals.

11. Green Heron

Lastly, on our list of types of herons in Michigan is The Green Heron. It is a small bird, measuring about 18 inches long.

It’s a dark greenish-brown with a greyish head and a white throat. The beak of the Green Heron is yellowish with a black tip. 

This heron species is most commonly seen in bodies of water such as rivers, marshes, ponds, and lakes. They feed on aquatic prey such as fish, frogs, and insects.

The Green Heron is usually found around Michigan in the spring and summer. They tend to stay near shallow water and prefer hunting for food in shallow areas.

These types of herons in Michigan build their nests in tall shrubs and trees close to bodies of water. 

When breeding, males perform an elaborate display, fluffing their feathers and hopping around to attract females.

The Green Heron can be seen all over Michigan, particularly in wetlands and other marshy areas. 

It’s important to take care when observing these types of herons in Michigan, as they are easily disturbed and may fly away if approached too closely.

However, if you take the time to observe from a distance, you may be rewarded with a glimpse of this beautiful bird in its natural habitat.


Are you a birdwatcher looking for herons in Michigan? If so, you’ve come to the right place!

Michigan is home to many species of herons, and they can be found in many of the state’s wetlands, rivers, and other bodies of water.

We have discussed Michigan’s different types of herons and where to find them. We have also discussed some interesting facts about each type of heron.

So, if you’re a birdwatcher in Michigan, read on to learn more about the types of herons in Michigan, the Great Lakes State!

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