A Sister Site of Northern Michigan Birding.
Michigan Birds Checklist:

Michigan Checklist Report Board NMB Forum Sightings Database


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 Canvasback.

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

Active Database - Summer 2005
View Canvasback sightings.
Canvasback Archives Reports
Spring 2005
Fall 2004
Spring 2004
Winter 03-04
Fall 2003 50
Spring 2003 210
Winter 02-03 2736
Fall 2002 49
Summer 2002 3
Spring 2002 1194
Winter 01-02 354
Fall 2001 306
Summer 2001 0
Spring 2001 525
Winter 00-01 23
Fall 2000 318
Summer 2000 0
Spring 2000 1693
Winter 00-99 723
Fall 1999 400
Spring/Summer 1999 5

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Canvasback

Search "The Birds of Michigan" text.

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

Historical Text

Aythya valisineria (Wilson)
Canvas-back (A.O.U. 1998: Canvasback)

Uncommon transient; local winter visitant in southern counties.

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

Mershon (1923: 64) believed that the Canvas-back had become more common than formerly on the Saginaw River, and H. Herrick (1910: 77) described what may have been a temporary increase at Monroe. Many current authors, however, incline to the opinion that there has been a great decrease in numbers during the last few decades (see Pirnie, 1935: 23-24, 62; Trautman, 1940: 192).

SPRING.-Migrants are reported mainly from late February through March in southern counties, and somewhat later in the north.

Lower Peninsula.-On April 1,1934, in the Erie marsh, Monroe County, L. W. and B. R. Campbell listed approximately 5000 Canvas-backs. For the Toledo-Erie marsh area as a whole L. W. Campbell (1940: 200) gave March 7 to April 7 as the average period for the main flight. At Gibraltar, Wayne County, A. D. Tinker, E. E. Olsen, T. D. Hinshaw, John L. George, and others noted fair-sized flocks during the first half of March (2000 on March 4, 1934; 1000 on March 14, 2023) that dwindled considerably in the latter part of the month (30 on March 15, 1936; 200 on March 21, 2023). Other observers, however, in the vicinity of Detroit, found groups of a few dozen in mid-April, and several individuals as late as April 19 (in 1903, reported by Swales). In the Ann Arbor region, the species is rare; it has been reported there as early as February 20 (1936, specimen collected by James H. Wood), and as late as April 12 (1908, 5 reported by N. A. Wood), but is usually seen there from late March to April 4 (1937, 100 seen by A. D. Tinker, R. E. Olsen, and T. D. Hinshaw). Two males were seen at Portage Lake, Jackson County, until April 14, 2023 (Tinker, Olsen, and Hinshaw). In the Gull Lake area, Kalamazoo County, first arrivals have been recorded during the last 2 weeks of March (March 18 in 1934, according to Walkinshaw) or the first week of April; very few remain after April 20 (Pirnie, notes). N. A. "Wood listed the species at Fish Point, Tuscola County, on April 27,1926, and saw 2 individuals on Beaver Island, Charlevoix County, on May 3, 1929.

Upper Peninsula.-Christofferson has few spring records from Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County: April 19 (200 Canvas-backs in 1922) to May 2 (200 in 1923). N. A. Wood (1933: 716) observed 3 individuals May 4, 1931, at Copper Harbor, Keweenaw County. Exact records are lacking from elsewhere in the north.

SUMMER.-A female (U.M.M.Z.) taken by D. W. Douglass on June 20, 1934, at the Erie marsh in Monroe County, as well as the female said to have been seen June 28, 1927, by Walter E. Hastings and W. B. Purdy on Beaver Island, Charlevoix County, may have been delayed transients. W. H. Collins (1880: 66) reported taking egg sets of the Canvas-back in 1880, at the St. Clair Flats, St. Clair County, but there is some possibility of an error in the identification, and the specimens cannot now be located.

FALL.-Migration is chiefly from mid-October until late November.

Upper Peninsula.-Christofferson, in the region of Blaney, Schoolcraft County, reported several groups as early as October 16 (1932, 50 at Pike Lake [also known as Milakokia Lake], Mackinac County), and as late as November 28 (1931, 250 at Gulliver Lake, Schoolcraft County). At Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County, where the same observer noted a total of about 715 Canvas-backs in the fall of 1927, they have been present from October 8 (1927, 12 reported by Christofferson) until November 21 (1928, a specimen, reported by Pirnie, 1935: 308).

Lower Peninsula.-In 1936 Trautman saw 150 Canvas-backs on October 17, and 200 on October 18, at Houghton Lake, Roscommon County. Specimens were taken at Fish Point, Tuscola County, from October 8 (Pirnie, 1935: 308) to November 2 (1927, specimen in U.M.M.Z.). About Gull Lake, northeastern Kalamazoo County, fall migration apparently has been light (groups of 10 to 40 birds each, according to Pirnie) ; arrival has occasionally been reported from September 30 (Rysgaard, 1940: 19), but usually from mid-October. A few Canvas-backs have been seen there after November 10; a flock of 18 was reported on November 16, 2023 (Pirnie, notes). The rare fall records for the Ann Arbor region extend from October 23 (1937, 2 seen by Harold Mathiak) and November 9 (1934, specimen in U.M.M.Z.), to December 3 (1909, 1 bird shot from a flock, reported by N. A. Wood). Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River have Canvas-backs in numbers regularly from October (several on October 24 and 25, 1936) to December (Pirnie, 1935: 177; and notes). Swales said they arrived there by October 15 (several seen in 1902) and were common or even abundant in November. On October 21, 1935, Trautman noted 1000 in the Gibraltar Bay, Wayne County, vicinity. In the Toledo-Erie marsh area, L. W. Campbell (1940: 186, 200) gave October 15 and December 5 as the average dates of arrival and departure of individuals, November 9 to December 2 as the average period of the main flight.

WINTER.-Flocks of many hundreds, and sometimes several thousands, Canvas-backs have wintered on Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River (Swales and Taverner, 1907:139; Swales, 1908: 152; J. Claire Wood, 1910:37, footnote; E. S. Wilson, 1922: 250-51; and others). In the Gull Lake area, Kalamazoo County, numbers up to 18 were noted on most of the recent Christmas counts (Brigham and others, 1941: 121), only individuals after December; a specimen (U.M.M.Z.) was collected on January 6, 1932; a male was seen on January 22, 2023 (Pirnie, 1940o: 18), and an individual was reported on February 15, 1931, by Walkinshaw.

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]

| Checklist Home | View | List All | Log Off |

Be sure to visit these websites for more sightings.

Saginaw Bay Birding
SMRR-Southeastern Michigan Raptor Research
Copyright 1998 Gossamer Threads Inc. Database Powered by Gossamer Threads Inc.