Bird Checklist
for Nichols Arboretum - Ann Arbor, Michigan

Washtenaw County

221 species

List last updated - February 7, 2018

Nichols Arboretum is probably the single best birding site in Washtenaw County, and it should be on any southeast Michigan birder's list of high-priority birding locations, especially for spring (and fall!) passerine migration. "The Arb," as it is called by most birders and other regular visitors, has 123 acres of varied habitat in a setting with an elevation change of 270 feet. Its size and breadth of character, a breadth not diminished by the Huron River, which bounds the Arb on the north, account for the diversity of avian wildlife that may be found here. The river boundary is over eight-tenths of a mile long. The Arb's natural areas together with its considerable assortment of botanical collections make it a place enjoyed by visitors of all feather.  This birding site and its location are described at the bottom of this document.

Checklist of the Birds of Nichols Arboretum

The checklist below is not claimed to be official, but it can be considered a reliable guide to the birds that may be found at Nichols Arboretum.

Taxonomic ordering and bird species names reflect all ABA changes made through Checklist 8.0.1 (November 2017), (C) American Birding Association.

English NameScientific Name
  Snow Goose  Chen caerulescens
  Canada Goose  Branta canadensis
  Mute Swan  Cygnus olor
  Trumpeter Swan  Cygnus buccinator
  Tundra Swan  Cygnus columbianus
  Wood Duck  Aix sponsa
  Northern Shoveler  Spatula clypeata
  Gadwall  Mareca strepera
  American Wigeon  Mareca americana
  Mallard  Anas platyrhynchos
  American Black Duck  Anas rubripes
  Green-winged Teal  Anas crecca
  Canvasback  Aythya valisineria
  Redhead  Aythya americana
  Ring-necked Duck  Aythya collaris
  Greater Scaup  Aythya marila
  Lesser Scaup  Aythya affinis
  Bufflehead  Bucephala albeola
  Common Goldeneye  Bucephala clangula
  Hooded Merganser  Lophodytes cucullatus
  Common Merganser  Mergus merganser
  Red-breasted Merganser  Mergus serrator
NEW WORLD QUAILOdontophoridae
  Northern Bobwhite (T)  Colinus virginianus
  Ring-necked Pheasant  Phasianus colchicus
  Wild Turkey  Meleagris gallopavo
  Pied-billed Grebe  Podilymbus podiceps
  Horned Grebe  Podiceps auritus
  Red-necked Grebe  Podiceps grisegena
PIGEONS and DOVESColumbidae
  Rock Pigeon  Columba livia
  Mourning Dove  Zenaida macroura
  Yellow-billed Cuckoo  Coccyzus americanus
  Black-billed Cuckoo  Coccyzus erythropthalmus
  Common Nighthawk  Chordeiles minor
  Eastern Whip-poor-will  Antrostomus vociferus
  Chimney Swift  Chaetura pelagica
  Ruby-throated Hummingbird  Archilochus colubris
  American Coot  Fulica americana
  Sandhill Crane  Antigone canadensis
LAPWINGS and PLOVERSCharadriidae
  Killdeer  Charadrius vociferus
  Red Knot  Calidris canutus
  American Woodcock  Scolopax minor
  Spotted Sandpiper  Actitis macularius
  Solitary Sandpiper  Tringa solitaria
  Lesser Yellowlegs  Tringa flavipes
  Bonaparte's Gull  Chroicocephalus philadelphia
  Ring-billed Gull  Larus delawarensis
  Herring Gull  Larus argentatus
  Caspian Tern  Hydroprogne caspia
  Black Tern (T)  Chlidonias niger
  Forster's Tern  Sterna forsteri
  Common Loon  Gavia immer
  Double-crested Cormorant  Phalacrocorax auritus
  American Bittern  Botaurus lentiginosus
  Great Blue Heron  Ardea herodias
  Great Egret  Ardea alba
  Green Heron  Butorides virescens
  Black-crowned Night-Heron  Nycticorax nycticorax
  Yellow-crowned Night-Heron [Casual]  Nyctanassa violacea
  Turkey Vulture  Cathartes aura
  Osprey  Pandion haliaetus
  Bald Eagle  Haliaeetus leucocephalus
  Northern Harrier  Circus hudsonius
  Sharp-shinned Hawk  Accipiter striatus
  Cooper's Hawk  Accipiter cooperii
  Northern Goshawk  Accipiter gentilis
  Red-shouldered Hawk  Buteo lineatus
  Broad-winged Hawk  Buteo platypterus
  Red-tailed Hawk  Buteo jamaicensis
  Rough-legged Hawk  Buteo lagopus
  Eastern Screech-Owl  Megascops asio
  Great Horned Owl  Bubo virginianus
  Barred Owl  Strix varia
  Long-eared Owl (T)  Asio otus
  Northern Saw-whet Owl  Aegolius acadicus
  Belted Kingfisher  Megaceryle alcyon
  Red-headed Woodpecker  Melanerpes erythrocephalus
  Red-bellied Woodpecker  Melanerpes carolinus
  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  Sphyrapicus varius
  Downy Woodpecker  Picoides pubescens
  Hairy Woodpecker  Picoides villosus
  Black-backed Woodpecker  Picoides arcticus
  Northern Flicker  Colaptes auratus
  Pileated Woodpecker  Dryocopus pileatus
  American Kestrel  Falco sparverius
  Merlin  Falco columbarius
  Peregrine Falcon  Falco peregrinus
  Olive-sided Flycatcher  Contopus cooperi
  Eastern Wood-Pewee  Contopus virens
  Yellow-bellied Flycatcher  Empidonax flaviventris
  Acadian Flycatcher  Empidonax virescens
  Alder Flycatcher  Empidonax alnorum
  Willow Flycatcher  Empidonax traillii
  Least Flycatcher  Empidonax minimus
  Eastern Phoebe  Sayornis phoebe
  Great Crested Flycatcher  Myiarchus crinitus
  Tropical/Couch's Kingbird [Accidental]  Tyrannus melancholicus/couchii
  Eastern Kingbird  Tyrannus tyrannus
  Northern Shrike  Lanius borealis
  White-eyed Vireo  Vireo griseus
  Bell's Vireo [Casual]  Vireo bellii
  Yellow-throated Vireo  Vireo flavifrons
  Blue-headed Vireo  Vireo solitarius
  Philadelphia Vireo  Vireo philadelphicus
  Warbling Vireo  Vireo gilvus
  Red-eyed Vireo  Vireo olivaceus
JAYS and CROWSCorvidae
  Blue Jay  Cyanocitta cristata
  American Crow  Corvus brachyrhynchos
  Horned Lark  Eremophila alpestris
  Purple Martin  Progne subis
  Tree Swallow  Tachycineta bicolor
  Northern Rough-winged Swallow  Stelgidopteryx serripennis
  Bank Swallow  Riparia riparia
  Cliff Swallow  Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
  Barn Swallow  Hirundo rustica
  Black-capped Chickadee  Poecile atricapillus
  Boreal Chickadee  Poecile hudsonicus
  Tufted Titmouse  Baeolophus bicolor
  Red-breasted Nuthatch  Sitta canadensis
  White-breasted Nuthatch  Sitta carolinensis
  Brown Creeper  Certhia americana
  House Wren  Troglodytes aedon
  Winter Wren  Troglodytes hiemalis
  Sedge Wren  Cistothorus platensis
  Marsh Wren  Cistothorus palustris
  Carolina Wren  Thryothorus ludovicianus
  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  Polioptila caerulea
  Golden-crowned Kinglet  Regulus satrapa
  Ruby-crowned Kinglet  Regulus calendula
  Eastern Bluebird  Sialia sialis
  Veery  Catharus fuscescens
  Gray-cheeked Thrush  Catharus minimus
  Swainson's Thrush  Catharus ustulatus
  Hermit Thrush  Catharus guttatus
  Wood Thrush  Hylocichla mustelina
  American Robin  Turdus migratorius
  Gray Catbird  Dumetella carolinensis
  Brown Thrasher  Toxostoma rufum
  Northern Mockingbird  Mimus polyglottos
  European Starling  Sturnus vulgaris
  Cedar Waxwing  Bombycilla cedrorum
  House Sparrow  Passer domesticus
WAGTAILS and PIPITSMotacillidae
  American Pipit  Anthus rubescens
FINCHES and ALLIESFringillidae
  Evening Grosbeak  Coccothraustes vespertinus
  Pine Grosbeak  Pinicola enucleator
  House Finch  Haemorhous mexicanus
  Purple Finch  Haemorhous purpureus
  Common Redpoll  Acanthis flammea
  Red Crossbill  Loxia curvirostra
  White-winged Crossbill  Loxia leucoptera
  Pine Siskin  Spinus pinus
  American Goldfinch  Spinus tristis
  Snow Bunting  Plectrophenax nivalis
TOWHEES and SPARROWSPasserellidae
  Eastern Towhee  Pipilo erythrophthalmus
  American Tree Sparrow  Spizella arborea
  Chipping Sparrow  Spizella passerina
  Clay-colored Sparrow  Spizella pallida
  Field Sparrow  Spizella pusilla
  Vesper Sparrow  Pooecetes gramineus
  Lark Sparrow  Chondestes grammacus
  Savannah Sparrow  Passerculus sandwichensis
  Fox Sparrow  Passerella iliaca
  Song Sparrow  Melospiza melodia
  Lincoln's Sparrow  Melospiza lincolnii
  Swamp Sparrow  Melospiza georgiana
  White-throated Sparrow  Zonotrichia albicollis
  Harris's Sparrow  Zonotrichia querula
  White-crowned Sparrow  Zonotrichia leucophrys
  Dark-eyed Junco  Junco hyemalis
  Yellow-breasted Chat  Icteria virens
  Bobolink  Dolichonyx oryzivorus
  Eastern Meadowlark  Sturnella magna
  Orchard Oriole  Icterus spurius
  Baltimore Oriole  Icterus galbula
  Red-winged Blackbird  Agelaius phoeniceus
  Brown-headed Cowbird  Molothrus ater
  Rusty Blackbird (T)  Euphagus carolinus
  Common Grackle  Quiscalus quiscula
  Ovenbird  Seiurus aurocapilla
  Worm-eating Warbler  Helmitheros vermivorum
  Louisiana Waterthrush  Parkesia motacilla
  Northern Waterthrush  Parkesia noveboracensis
  Golden-winged Warbler  Vermivora chrysoptera
  Blue-winged Warbler  Vermivora cyonoptera
  Black-and-white Warbler  Mniotilta varia
  Prothonotary Warbler  Protonotaria citrea
  Tennessee Warbler  Oreothlypis peregrina
  Orange-crowned Warbler  Oreothlypis celata
  Nashville Warbler  Oreothlypis ruficapilla
  Connecticut Warbler  Oporornis agilis
  Mourning Warbler  Geothlypis philadelphia
  Kentucky Warbler  Geothlypis formosa
  Common Yellowthroat  Geothlypis trichas
  Hooded Warbler  Setophaga citrina
  American Redstart  Setophaga ruticilla
  Kirtland's Warbler  Setophaga kirtlandii
  Cape May Warbler  Setophaga tigrina
  Cerulean Warbler  Setophaga cerulea
  Northern Parula  Parula americana
  Magnolia Warbler  Setophaga magnolia
  Bay-breasted Warbler  Setophaga castanea
  Blackburnian Warbler  Setophaga fusca
  Yellow Warbler  Setophaga petechia
  Chestnut-sided Warbler  Setophaga pensylvanica
  Blackpoll Warbler  Setophaga striata
  Black-throated Blue Warbler  Setophaga caerulescens
  Palm Warbler  Setophaga palmarum
  Pine Warbler  Setophaga pinus
  Yellow-rumped Warbler  Setophaga coronata
  Yellow-throated Warbler  Setophaga dominica
  Prairie Warbler  Setophaga discolor
  Black-throated Gray Warbler [Accidental]  Setophaga nigrescens
  Hermit Warbler [Accidental]  Setophaga occidentalis
  Black-throated Green Warbler  Setophaga virens
  Canada Warbler  Cardellina canadensis
  Wilson's Warbler  Cardellina pusilla
  Summer Tanager  Piranga rubra
  Scarlet Tanager  Piranga olivacea
  Western Tanager [Casual]  Piranga ludoviciana
  Northern Cardinal  Cardinalis cardinalis
  Rose-breasted Grosbeak  Pheucticus ludovicianus
  Black-headed Grosbeak [Accidental]  Pheucticus melanocephalus
  Indigo Bunting  Passerina cyanea


MBRC Review List species are in blue.           top

(T) - Tinker, A.D. (1910) - four species not reported by other sources or in other material reviewed for developing this checklist: Northern Bobwhite, Black Tern, Long-eared Owl, Rusty Blackbird. Several birds not reported by Tinker for the Arb but reported by other birders are surely as rare: Black-backed Woodpecker, Hermit Warbler, Black-headed Grosbeak, Boreal Chickadee, Tropical/Couch's Kingbird, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Bell's Vireo, and Western Tanager.


A.D. Tinker checklist (1910)
The Birds of Washtenaw County, Michigan (1992) (Michael A. Kielb, John M. Swales, and Richard A. Wolinski)
Kielb 2002 checklist
personal records
personal communications
posts to listserv email list (now
posts to eBird for hotspot Nichols Arboretum

NEW SPECIES IN THE CHECKLIST (15) - entries 207 to 221

The birds listed below are the most recent additions to the Arb checklist--fifteen species. Only seven of the new birds were seen in the six and a half years since compilation of the October 27, 2011, checklist--one new bird per year. The other eight are birds that could have been in the 2011 checklist but they were discovered only during research for this 2018 update. Entries 215 to 221 were found only in eBird.

207. Red Knot - in breeding plumage; Mike Kielb, date unknown

208. Marsh Wren - Juliet Berger and others; 9-10-2015

209. Snow Goose - Larry Urbanski; 3-9-2014

210. Red-necked Grebe - Jacco Gelderloos, Paul Dannels; 3-8-2014

211. Horned Grebe - Edgar Otto; 2-10-2014

212. Lesser Yellowlegs - Jacco Gelderloos; 8-24-2013 + Laurent Fournier; 8-29-2013

213. Wild Turkey - Sandra Bouma; 4-14-2013 + Jacco Gelderloos; 5-13-2013

214. Ring-necked Duck - Selena Creed; 3-6-2013 eBird

215. American Pipit - Oakland Audubon Society; 5-7-2011 eBird

216. Sedge Wren - Sarah Toner; 10-7-2010 eBird

217. Tundra Swan - Cathy Theisen; 1-1-2009 eBird

218. Forster's Tern - Jason Weckstein; 4-22-1991 eBird

219. Northern Shoveler - Jason Weckstein; 9-19-1989 eBird

220. Boreal Chickadee - Bill Tweit; 1-20-1973 eBird

221. Barred Owl - Peter Bono; 5-18-1970 eBird

Another checklist, Mike Kielb's (2002), can be found here (178 species). There is also a 1910 list of A.D. Tinker (138 species). (Both of these checklists are borrowed for publication here, with permission from Nichols Arboretum, as they are not presently available at any University or Nichols Arboretum web site.)

List Contributors

Washtenaw County birders have been the primary contributors to Nichols Arboretum bird checklist records, Mike Kielb primary among them. I have borrowed birds freely from his book (with John Swales and Dick Wolinski) and checklist. Four species came from the Tinker checklist. Some great records in the checklist above are old and some are new--and many good birds are found at the Arb every year by birders who work at it (and many Arb lovers do!). If you have a species in your Arb list that is not in the above checklist, you are invited to submit it for inclusion.


Nichols Arboretum is located east of the University of Michigan's Central Campus in Ann Arbor. Its west side is bounded by the University of Michigan Medical Center and a cemetery. The Huron River bounds the Arb on the north, and Geddes Avenue and residential areas bound it on the south. Residences bound the Arb on the east. Ann Arbor is 35 miles west of Detroit.

Directions, Maps, and Parking

Directions and parking information accompany the maps.

  Location maps (directions and parking)
  Nichols Arboretum maps (parking and trails)

Description of the Arb

Two books describe Nichols Arboretum in detail with information about what birds to look for, and where, in spring, summer, fall, and winter. Every birder who wants to explore Washtenaw County, one of the richest birding counties in Michigan, should have the first of these:  The Birds of Washtenaw County, Michigan (1992), by Michael A. Kielb, John M. Swales, and Richard A. Wolinski.  Every Michigan birder, and certainly all who have in mind coming to Michigan to bird, should have the second:  A Birder's Guide to Michigan (2004), by Allen T. Chartier and Jerry Ziarno.

Besides these two books see information about birding in Washtenaw County and the rest of Michigan at the Southeast Michigan Birding web site. There are presently many dead links at that web site, but there are two particularly useful links there and they are intact: (1) Michigan Area Birds/Birding Links and (2) Birding Sites in Southeast Michigan and Vicinity. Also see the new Field Guide to the Birds of Michigan (2018), by Allen T. Chartier and Brian E. Small (photos).

These books have trail maps for the Arb, and you can also find trail maps here.

In these books and in your walks at the Arb you will become familiar with many named and unnamed areas. Some of these are

  • School Girl's Glen
  • Dow Prairie
  • Heathdale
  • the Peony Garden
  • the Appalachian Glen
  • the Rhododendron Glen
  • the Caretaker's Road
  • the boardwalk (riparian area), new warber hot spot
  • the Huron River
  • the river road (Nichols Drive)
  • the ridge trail
  • the beach
  • the valley
  • the "warbler hot spot" or "warbler way"

Unnamed areas known to all birders include wood piles, scrub along a railroad track, meadow-like areas, deciduous woods, glens, and stands of pine trees--and a sometimes stream under the Boardwalk.

The following description was excerpted The Birds of Washtenaw County, Michigan (1992).

Nichols Arboretum is the best studied ornithological site within Washtenaw County, if not Michigan. The spring migration, in particular, of birds in the Arb has been well studied over the years (Wood 1908; Tinker 1910, 1911; Barrows 1912; Wood and Tinker 1934; Wood 1951; Burrows 1954). The study of migration at this site was continued into the 1970s and 1980s with a complete survey of spring migrants, including peaks in migration, and early and late spring arrival dates (Kielb 1989). In contrast the fall migration is understudied, but there is no doubt that large numbers of migrants pass through. Even in winter interesting birds appear. In the summer, it is a nice place to take a stroll but lacks the abundance of interesting species that occur during other seasons.

... The fall warbler migration is as spectacular here as in the spring. Realistically many of the warblers are frequently drabber in plumage, but they are also much more numerous, and the length of their migration is more protracted than in the spring. The fall warbler migration starts in early August and continues into mid to late October. In late August the Arb can be full of migrants.

During the winter (late November through late February) the Arb is a good area to see winter finches and species that uncommonly spend the winter in the county.


Nichols Arboretum is open year round sunrise to sunset, and admission is free. There are no locked gates, so you need not be concerned about being locked in if you dally past dusk. The only restrooms at the Arb are in the Reader Center (Burnham House) at the Washington Heights entrance on the west side of the Arb, south of the Peony Garden. The hours there are M-F, 8:30am-4:30pm, weekends variable.


Nichols Arboretum
1600 Washington Heights
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

(734) 647-7600

Bob Grese
Director of the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum
(734) 763-0645

Bruce M. Bowman, 2150 Spruceway Ln., Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103   /  (734) 994-5398
Bird Checklist for Nichols Arboretum - Ann Arbor, Michigan Bird Checklist for Nichols Arboretum - Ann Arbor, Michigan     top    home

created by / comments to:  Bruce M. Bowman

web site created: February 2005
checklist last updated: February 7, 2018
web site last modified: February 28, 2018
date of previous major update (206 species): October 27, 2011

This page has been visited times since July 29, 2005.