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Status in Michigan
Fairly Common Transient

Early Spring Date

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

Use the links below to view the Bufflehead 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 Bufflehead sightings.
Bufflehead Archives Reports
Fall 2003 247
Spring 2003 499
Winter 02-03 204
Fall 2002 356
Summer 2002 1
Spring 2002 743
Winter 01-02 985
Fall 2001 101
Summer 2001 0
Spring 2001 373
Winter 00-01 214
Fall 2000 167
Summer 2000 2
Spring 2000 813
Winter 00-99 1137
Fall 1999 270
Spring/Summer 1999 19

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Bufflehead

Whitefish Point Bird Observatory
Active Database - Fall 2003
View Fall 2003 sightings.
Whitefish Point Bird Observatory Official Seasonal Count Summaries for the Bufflehead
Fall 1999-Spring 2002
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

Bucephala albeola (Linnaeus)
Buffle-head (A.O.U. 1998: Bufflehead)

Fairly common transient. Local summer resident. A few winter in southern counties.

First listed for Michigan by Sager (1839: 417).

SPRING.-Arrival is reported from southern counties chiefly in the latter half of March and in April, from the Upper Peninsula, in the latter half of April.

Lower Peninsula.-L. W. Campbell (1940: 187, 201) gave March 26 to April 11 as the average period for main flight through the Toledo-Erie marsh area; May 14 (1939) as the latest date, and April 11 as the average date, of last stragglers. In the early part of the century, Swales (notes) and Barrows (1912: 101) found the Buffle-head an abundant spring transient about Detroit, where it arrived in the middle or latter part of March, and remained until late April, with stragglers until May; it was "very abundant" at the St. Glair Flats on March 14 and 16, 1903, and "abundant" at Detroit April 17 and 18, 1908. Transients in the Ann Arbor region have been reported from the latter half of March through April, but the species is not numerous there, seldom more than one or two dozen being recorded in a day; 20 were observed at Whitmore Lake on May 2, 1937, by R. E. Olsen, A. D. Tinker, and T. D. Hinshaw. The individuals and small groups that winter in the Battle Creek area confuse the time of arrival there, but Pirnie reports the species "especially common" in March. F. W. Rapp (1931: 5) listed the species at Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County, from March 21 to April 15, but found it "rare." In 1933 at Sand Point, Huron County, D. "W. Douglass observed several Buffle-heads from April 8 (8 to 10) to April 27 (4); and at Douglas Lake, Cheboygan County, Theodora Nelson noted 2 on April 19, 1937.

Upper Peninsula.-F. C. Gillett saw "a few" on April 13, 1933, at Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County, where Christofferson has recorded transients in small numbers, mainly from April 11 (3 in 1929) to April 29 (10 in 1928); Van Tyne, Max M. Peet, and P. S. Lovejoy saw several there on May 3, 1933. Northwestward, at Whitefish Point, Chippewa County, Brodkorb noted 1 on May 10, and 7 on May 11, 1936. Bryens has re- ported very few at McMillan, Luce County, but at Blaney, Schoolcraft County, Christofferson has found its status to be much the same as at Munuscong Bay. At Copper Harbor, Keweenaw County, in 1931, N. A. Wood (1933: 716) saw a few and collected a specimen (U.M.M.Z.) on April 28, and observed others after May 24. On Isle Royale the Buffle- head was present on May 5,2023 (2 seen by A. Murie) and on May 9, 2023 (Laurence Dayton).

SUMMER.-Compton (1914: 178) reported a few individuals present at Douglas Lake, Cheboygan County, during one or two summers. On North Manitou Island, Leelanau County, A. E. Staebler noted a male on June 19 and 23, 1940. S. E. "White (1893: 222) recorded a flock of 8 on July 3, 1890, on Mackinac Island; and on Isle Royale a small flock was noted August 23, 1924, by Fargo, and another flock on August 28, 1929, by Walter E. Hastings.

FALL.-Departure is reported principally in the latter half of October and in November.

Upper Peninsula.-In the Huron Mountain region, Marquette County, S. S. Gregory, Jr. (1929: 174), recorded a flock of 13 on October 17, 1928. Migration at Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County, has been mainly from the third week in October to the second week in November, according to Christofferson. Pirnie recorded a heavy flight there in 1926 (a maximum of 2000 birds on October 20, 40 on October 31); but in most years he recorded only a few hundred during the entire fall. A moderate migration occurs also at Blaney, Schoolcraft County (Christofferson). Walter C. Wood (1905: 49) reported flocks of 500 or more at Les Cheneaux Islands, Mackinac County, between October 15 and November 15,1903; and Milo Oliphant secured a specimen (U.M.M.Z.) in the county on November 15, 1933.

Lower Peninsula.-Walter E. Hastings saw 6 Buffle-heads in Charlevoix County on November 21, 2023 (Van Tyne, 1925: 614). At Houghton Lake, Roscommon County, where a number of specimens (U.M.M.Z.) have been taken, Trautman noted 12 on October 17, 40 on November 1, and 15 on November 8,1936. Max M. Peet collected 5 there on November 6,1938. J. Claire Wood (1913: 14) saw small flocks in Alcona County on October 14, and individuals until November 5. At Saginaw Bay, Pirnie (1935: 29) reported that this species had at times '' made up the bulk of the November flights"; N. A. Eddy (1884: 41) recorded arrival there on October 23 (1883). A specimen was taken on Wildfowl Bay, Huron County, on October 23, 2023 (Pirnie, 1935: 312). An adult male was seen on September 5, 1932, at Wintergreen Lake, Kalamazoo County, according to Pirnie, who stated, however, that the average date of arrival is about October 15, and that the species becomes especially common there in November. Fargo reported 2 Buffle-heads on October 2, 1937, in Norvell Township, Jackson County. In the Ann Arbor region a few have been seen each fall, from about the last week in October to middle or late November; a specimen (U.M.M.Z.) was collected there on October 22,1904. Buffle-heads have been found in the Detroit region by September 6 (Barrows, 1912: 101) ; a male and female were collected at Gibraltar, Wayne County, on October 4, 1895, though the main migration through the area occurred during the last week of October and through November, the species being reported "common" there on November 29, 2023 (Swales, notes). Pirnie saw a flock of 1000 on November 15, 1936, on the east side of Anchor Bay, St. Glair County; and Swales noted 10 of the species on December 11, 1906, at Belle Isle, Detroit River. In the Toledo-Erie marsh area, L. W. Campbell (1940: 187, 201) gave October 19 (1935) as the earliest date, November 8, as the aver- age date, for first arrivals; November 12 to 25 was the average period of main flight through the area.

WINTER.-Individuals and small groups are reported occasionally in southeastern counties, and more regularly in southwestern counties. R. E. Olsen and A. D. Tinker saw 4 Buffle-heads on February 20, 1938, at Gibraltar, Wayne County, and 2 on February 14, 1932, near Ann Arbor. Leonard Wing (1931: 131) took a female (U.M.M.Z.) February 17, 1929, that had been wintering near Jackson. H. W. Hann listed the species in Branch County on January 1, 1932. Pirnie wrote in 1941 that the species wintered in small numbers at open places along the west coast of the State, at Gull Lake [Kalamazoo County], and occasionally on the rivers." Most of the recent Christmas-season counts for the Gull Lake-Battle Creek area have reported the species; Pirnie and others (1932: 58-59) recorded 32 on December 27, 1931. R. H. Wolcott (Barrows, 1912: 101) said in 1893, it was common every winter at Grand Rapids. Walkinshaw noted 3 at Ben- ton Harbor, Berrien County, on February 25, 1934.

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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