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 Common Goldeneye

Status in Michigan
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 Common Goldeneye.

Use the links below to view the Common Goldeneye 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 Common Goldeneye sightings.
Common Goldeneye Archives Reports
Fall 2003 732
Spring 2003 3264
Winter 02-03 5305
Fall 2002 1151
Summer 2002 2
Spring 2002 487
Winter 01-02 3707
Fall 2001 507
Summer 2001 3
Spring 2001 850
Winter 00-01 2229
Fall 2000 42
Summer 2000 9
Spring 2000 89
Winter 00-99 1266
Fall 1999 118
Spring/Summer 1999 9

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Common Goldeneye

Whitefish Point Bird Observatory
Active Database - Fall 2003
View Fall 2003 sightings.
Whitefish Point Bird Observatory Official Seasonal Count Summaries for the Common Goldeneye
Fall 1999-Spring 2002
Common Goldeneye
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 clangula americana (Bonaparte)
American Golden-eye (A.O.U. 1998: Common Goldeneye)

Common transient; regular winter visitant; summer resident in Wexford, Roscommon, Mackinac, and Chippewa counties.

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

SPRING.-The presence of wintering birds makes it difficult to determine exactly when the spring movement begins; it is recorded principally in March and April.

Lower Peninsula.-In the Toledo-Erie marsh area, L. W. Campbell (1940: 201) gave March 23 as the average date for the end of main flight. About Detroit, Swales found Golden-eyes "common" as late as April 18 (1904), observed 30 on April 20 (1908), and reported them "fairly common" on April 23 (1908). Stragglers have occasionally been seen, and specimens (U.M.M.Z.) collected, in the Ann Arbor region until the second and third weeks of April (April 19, 1939, 2 birds noted at Independence Lake by John L. George); and in Jackson County, through April 30 (1923), according to Fargo. Herbert Miller secured a specimen (U.M.M.Z.) at Fish Point, Tuscola County, on May 1, 1926. Museum of Zoology field parties (1931 to 1933) saw very few in April at Sand Point, Huron County, but D. W. Douglass noted 5 or more on a May 3 (1932) trip from there off shore to Charity Island. N. A. "Wood listed the species on Beaver Island, Charlevoix County, on May 7, 9, and 10, 1929.

Upper Peninsula.-Christofferson and Magee reported flocks in the St Mary's River rapids, Chippewa County, through April 21 (about 100 birds in 1923) and April 25 (50, the same year) and smaller numbers later. In 1931 at Copper Harbor, Keweenaw County, N. A. Wood (1933: 716) found the species uncommon after April 24. Laurence Dayton, after spending the winter (1936-37) on Isle Royale, noted the species there on April 22, when open water reappeared, and frequently thereafter until May 21.

SUMMER.-Nesting may begin by early May, since young have been found as early as June 5. At Lake Mitchell, Wexford County, E. R. Ford (1927:116) discovered a female with 2 half-grown young on July 22, 1920. Near Houghton Lake, Roscommon County, Pirnie (1935: 27; and notes) caught a duckling from a week-old brood in early June, 1932; and on June 7 or 8, 1940, near the southeast end of the same lake, Louie Dingeman found a nest with 12 eggs (U.M.M.Z.). Pirnie observed numerous juveniles at Millecoquin Lake, Mackinac County, on August 8, 1936; and Fargo wrote: "On June 5, 1930, on the north shore of Lake Huron between Cedarville and Hessel [Mackinac County] I found a female Golden-eye and six duck- lings about the size of a quail."

Apparently, numbers have nested at Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County, for Trautman reported that from June 23 to 29, 1926, he saw about 100 Golden-eyes daily, and found a brood of 11 young. Northward at Neebish Island in the same county, A. H. Boies (1897: 18) listed the species as breeding, but gave no details. Summer occurrences, without breeding evidence, have been reported from various localities: July 25, 1932, a male seen at the north end of Black Lake, Cheboygan County, and August 9, 1937, 3 Golden-eyes seen at Trailsend Bay, Emmet County (Blanchard and Nelson, MS of 1937); 3 adults noted at Whitefish Point, Chippewa County, in the summer of 1914 (N. A. "Wood, 1914: 60); a male, June 2,1938, at Seney, Schoolcraft County (Brodkorb); on Isle Royale, a "small flock" on August 23, 2023 (Fargo), and a flock of 15 in early September (F. M. and A. M. Baumgartner).

FALL.-Migration apparently extends from October through November. Upper Peninsula.-At Siskowit Bay, Isle Royale, Golden-eyes were common in the fall of 1936 until the bay was closed by ice (Laurence Dayton). At Blaney, Schoolcraft County, Christofferson found the species regular in fall to November 7 (10 birds in 1937), November 8 (12 in 1935), and November 9 (2 in 1938); Bryens, at McMillan, Luce County, observed it usually from the third and fourth weeks in October to mid-November. Specimens (U.M.M.Z.) were collected at Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County, on October 20, 1928, and Pirnie (1935: 311) listed others from there and from Alger County.

Lower Peninsula.-At Houghton Lake, Roscommon County, in 1936, Trautman noted 40 on October 17, and 50 on both November 1 and November 8. Walter E. Hastings (Van Tyne, 1925: 614) found the species "very abundant" near Norwood, Charlevoix County, on November 21, 1910. At Charity Island, Huron County, the species was recorded from October 4, well into November, when 2 specimens (U.M.M.Z.) were collected (N. A. Wood, 1911: 88). At Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County, the species is common in fall and present from October 21 to December 18 (F. W. Rapp,. 1931: 5); in the Gull Lake area in the same county they are very common in November (Pirnie, notes). In the Ann Arbor region the first arrivals are usually seen in late fall or early winter; a specimen (U.M.M.Z.) was taken at Pleasant Lake by Donal H. Haines on November 6, 1926, and 8 Golden-eyes were reported November 25, 1917, at Portage Lake by A. G. Ruthven and F. M. Gaige. The species has appeared on the Detroit River by the last of October or the first week of November; according to Swales it arrived there by October 30 or 31 (1904) and was "common" on November 11 (1901); and on the east side of Anchor Bay, St. Clair County, Pirnie observed as many as 2000, nearly all in one flock, on November 15, 1936. L. "W. Campbell (1940: 201) gave November 17 as the average date for the beginning of main flight in the Toledo-Erie marsh area.

WINTER.-Numbers of Golden-eyes, usually in small groups, are found throughout the winter in most sections of Michigan. Trautman stated that "probably more of these birds winter on the open trout streams of Michigan than pass through it to winter south of Michigan."

Lower Peninsula.-At Gibraltar, Wayne County, R. E. Olsen and A. D. Tinker reported 1000 on January 30, 1938, but in the Ann Arbor region, only scattered individuals or small flocks of not more than a few dozen birds are usually recorded. Pirnie and other observers found large numbers wintering into December or January on the Kalamazoo and neighboring rivers (312 on December 22, 1931, reported by Kingsley and others, 1932: 58), and on Gull Lake. Some also winter on the Tittabawassee River near Freeland, Saginaw County (Miller Empey). Many groups are present on streams and outlets of lakes in the northern part of the peninsula, where a number of specimens (U.M.M.Z.) have been collected from January to March. Trautman counted 134 Golden-eyes on February 8, 1935, in a 5-mile section of the Pigeon River, Otsego County.

Upper Peninsula.-Wintering is fairly regular on the St. Mary's River, Chippewa County; in January and February, 1926, more than 100 birds were noted there by Christofferson and Magee. Near McMillan, Luce County, Bryens has observed individuals and very small groups on several occasions in winter, 2 on January 13, 1937, and 2 on February 9, 2023). Large numbers winter on the Indian River, near Manistique, Schoolcraft County; Christofferson reported 175 there on February 22, 1936, and E. E. Crawford reported 1000 to 1500 on March 3, 1937. The species is a regular winter visitant, December 28 to March 16, in the Huron Mountains, Marquette County, according to S. S. Gregory, Jr. (1929: 174), and perhaps elsewhere about the south shore of Lake Superior.

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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