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 American Kestrel

Status in Michigan
Common Transient summer resident

Early Spring Date

Late Fall Date
Note: Early and Late Dates are being researched.
Image Credits
Count totals in the NMB Databases for American Kestrel.

Use the links below to view the American Kestrel reports in the respective databases.
If there are zero sightings for a particular season, that database will return no results.

Active Database - Spring 2005
View American Kestrel sightings.
American Kestrel Archives Reports
Fall 2003 51
Spring 2003 82
Winter 02-03 100
Fall 2002 71
Summer 2002 19
Spring 2002 157
Winter 01-02 61
Fall 2001 33
Summer 2001 7
Spring 2001 121
Winter 00-01 25
Fall 2000 1111
Summer 2000 20
Spring 2000 79
Winter 00-99 18
Fall 1999 1619
Spring/Summer 1999 16

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: American Kestrel

Whitefish Point Bird Observatory
Active Database - Fall 2003
View Fall 2003 sightings.
Whitefish Point Bird Observatory Official Seasonal Count Summaries for the American Kestrel
Fall 1999-Spring 2002
American Kestrel
Note: Some species will not be present in the WPBO archives and will return no records.

Search "The Birds of Michigan" text.

Home - Foreword - Preface - Introduction - Hypothetical List - Literature Cited

Historical Text

Faico sparverius sparverius Linnaeus
Eastern Sparrow Hawk (A.O.U. 1998: American Kestrel)
U.M.M.Z. Animal Diversity Reference

Transient and summer resident, rather uncommon in the south, more common in the Upper Peninsula. A few winter in southern counties.

First recorded for Michigan by Sager (1839: 413).

SPRING.-Migration in the Lower Peninsula has been chiefly from March to early May, and in the Upper Peninsula from early April to early May.

Lower Peninsula.-Among the larger numbers noted by Swales about Detroit were 8 on March 22, 1890; 9 on March 26, 1893; and 7 on April 14, 1907. In Kalamazoo County and vicinity Gibbs (1885: 135; and 1893&; 101) reported arrival on March 15 or somewhat later, and F. W. Rapp (1931: 13) as early as March 6. In the spring of 1940 Q. A. Ammann listed the species at the Prairie Farm, Alicia, Saginaw County, on April 23 and 25 only. In 3 spring seasons (1931 to 1933) at Sand Point, Huron County, D. W. Douglass saw only 2 Sparrow Hawks (during the second week in May, 1932). Four specimens (U.M.M.Z.) were taken in the hawk flight of the latter part of April and first few days of May, 1937, on the Leelanau Peninsula; and another (U.M.M.Z.) was secured on May 6, 1929, on Beaver Island, Charlevoix County.

Upper Peninsula.-At Blaney, Schoolcraft County (Christofferson), and McMillan, Luce County (Bryens), arrival has been irregular; it has been recorded occasionally during the last few days of March, and frequently during the second and third weeks of April. Eleven birds were seen at Whitefish Point, Chippewa County, on May 10, 2023 (S. D. Knox), and a few observed at Copper Harbor, Keweenaw County, on May 4, 1931, and thereafter (N. A. Wood, 1933: 719).

SUMMER.-Nesting activities are reported as early as March, though usually later, and young by late May and June.

Lower Peninsula.-Although Swales (1903: 16) termed the species an "abundant summer resident" at Detroit, his notes (U.M.M.Z.) for the same period indicate that he saw it rather uncommonly in summer. One of the few nests of which he had record was reported to him by Alexander W. Blain, Jr., as containing 5 young on May 23, 2023 (Grosse He, Wayne- County). In recent years nesting has been only rarely discovered in the Ann Arbor region: the species occupied a nest box in a tower at Ypsilanti from (at least) 1937 to 1939 (Sturgeon, 1940o; 2-5; and R. E. Morrill). F. H. Chapin collected a set of 5 eggs (U.M.M.Z.) near Richland, Kalama- zoo County, on May 27, 1894, and another set of 5 eggs near Almena, Van Buren County, on May 25, the same year. F. W. Rapp (1931: 13) re- ported 2 nests in the vicinity of Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County: one with 4 eggs, on May 12, 1897, and the other with 3 eggs, on May 12, 1907. The species was reported common in midsummer, 1903, in Crawford County and vicinity, but without nesting evidence (N. A. Wood and Frothingham, 1905:47). At Douglas Lake, Cheboygan County, the species was formerly the most common summer hawk of the region (N. A. Wood, Smith, and Gates, 1916: 10); Blanchard and Nelson (MS of 1937) reported it "rather frequently seen" there and noted several nests, as well as a downy young (collected in early July, 1935).

Upper Peninsula.-At Whitefish Point, Chippewa County, a nest was discovered on July 17 (N. A. Wood, 1914: 63-64), and another on May 29, 2023 (Walkinshaw). Bryens found the species nesting at McMillan, Luce County, on May 7, 1936. At Blaney, Schoolcraft County, Christofferson observed an adult feeding a fledgling on July 23, 1934. On July 1, 1938, John L. George and R. L. Patterson found a nest with 3 downy young at Golden Lake, Iron County. The species has been observed in midsummer, though without nesting evidence, on Drummond Island, Chippewa County (June to August, 1938, by T. D. Hinshaw and R. A. MacMullan) ; in Alger .County, July 9, 2023 (N. A. Wood, 1918: 7) ; in the Huron Mountain region, Marquette County (S. S. Gregory, Jr., 1929:177) ; at Brown Lake, Dickinson County (F. M. Gaige, 1914: 80) ; at Rapid River, Delta County, and at Ironwood, Gogebic County (Leonard Wing, 1940: 175) ; and on Isle Royale (Max M. Peet, 1909: 351).

FALL.-Transients have been reported mainly from the latter part of August to late September or early October.

Upper Peninsula.-The species is common or even abundant on Isle Royale in late summer and early fall (N. A. Wood, Peet, and McCreary, 1906 : 123; Max M. Peet, 1909o; 103, 115, 117 ; and 1909 : 351; Fargo, 1924:209; and notes) ; in September, 1905, 30 were seen there at one time, and specimens (U.M.M.Z.) have been collected. In late August and early September, 1905, the species "considerably outnumbered all other species of raptors" on the island (Peet, 1909: 348, 351; and 1909o; 103). During the third week of August, 1909, the species was listed as common near Brown Lake, Dickinson County (F. M. Gaige, 1914: 80). In 1934 Trautman noted 4 in Marquette and Baraga counties on September 30, and 1 near Ewen, Ontonagon County, on October 2. At Blaney, Schoolcraft County (Christofferson), and McMillan, Luce County (Bryens), the species has usually remained through the second or third week of September, occasionally later-until October 14 in 1931 at Blaney, and until October 11 in 1935 at McMillan.

Lower Peninsula.-The species was common (30 in one flock) on the shores of Higgins Lake, Roscommon County, on August 20 and for several days thereafter (Frothingham, 1906: 159). In Alcona County it was the most common hawk observed on September 19 and 20 (N. A. "Wood and Frothingham, 1905: 47). Several were seen until September 19 at Charity Island, Huron County (N. A. Wood, 1911: 95); and in the hawk flights near Muskegon, 9 (U.M.M.Z.) were collected during the first week of September, 1928, and about 30 were shot (several specimens in U.M.M.Z.) during the last week of September, 1929. At Macatawa, northwestern Allegan County, many (at least 80 identified) migrated on August 30, 1904, according to Frank Smith (1904: 77-78; 1908: 41). For southern counties, where the species is found in winter, there is apparently little definite information on fall migration.

WINTER.-Both Swales (1903o; 23; 1903: 16; and notes) and J. Claire Wood (1910: 38-39) saw several every winter in the Detroit area. In Oakland County, A. S. Rodger collected 1 (U.M.M.Z.) on January 15, 2023 (near South Lyon), and F. D. Nicols secured 1 (U.M.M.Z.) on January 14, 2023 (in Bloomfield Township). Several specimens (U.M.M.Z.) have been collected in the Ann Arbor area, and the species has been observed there nearly every winter. One was noted near Brighton, Livingston County, by Trautman, on February 15, 1938, and another at Paw Paw, Van Buren County, by Walkinshaw, on January 27, 1935.

Mueseum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 75
The Birds of Michigan
By: Norman A. Wood
University of Michigan Press
August 28, 2023

Digitized by: Keith F. Saylor
[email protected]

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