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Status in Michigan
Uncommon 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 Dickcissel.

Use the links below to view the Dickcissel 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 Dickcissel sightings.
Dickcissel Archives Reports
Fall 2003 1
Spring 2003 4
Winter 02-03 0
Fall 2002 0
Summer 2002 48
Spring 2002 3
Winter 01-02 0
Fall 2001 5
Summer 2001 37
Spring 2001 8
Winter 00-01 0
Fall 2000 0
Summer 2000 119
Spring 2000 5
Winter 00-99 0
Fall 1999 1
Spring/Summer 1999 1

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Dickcissel

Whitefish Point Bird Observatory
Active Database - Fall 2003
View Fall 2003 sightings.
Whitefish Point Bird Observatory Official Seasonal Count Summaries for the Dickcissel
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
The Birds of Michigan - by: Norman A. Wood
Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 75

Spiza americana (Gmelin)

Summer resident, in variable numbers. Usually confined to the southern third or fourth of Michigan.

First recorded for Michigan by Sager (1839: 415): "Emberiza americana."

The records of occurrence of this species have been summarized by A. J. Cook (1893o: 118), Gibbs (1899: 6), and Barrows (1912: 537-39). It is very irregular, sometimes abundant, in an area for several years and then entirely absent from that area. About Detroit, the species was first found in 1891 (J. B. Purdy, 1895: 37; J. Claire Wood, 1907fir: 71-72); it in- creased sufficiently for a 15-pair colony to be found in 1899 (J. Claire Wood, 1905d;; 66-67), from which specimens (U.M.M.Z.) were collected; later it decreased in the area (Swales, 1904: 37; J. Claire Wood, 1907/; 33;1909e: 107-8). At St. Clair, Swales (1904: 37; and notes) observed a single bird on August 28, 1893, and on August 27, 1896; at the same place on June 20, 1895, he flushed a female from a nest containing 5 Dickcissel and 2 Cowbird eggs. The species was "quite abundant" in the late 1870's near Ann Arbor (J. B. Steere, 1880: 6; N. A. Wood, 1921o; 593) and there- after was seen at least once in 1895, when a specimen (U.M.M.Z.) was collected, and again in 1903, 1906, and 1909. First noticed west of Manchester, Washtenaw County, about 1885, the bird became "quite abundant" there in the 1890's (L. Whitney Watkins, 1895o: 49-50; 1900: 73). It appeared in the vicinity of Michigan State College at East Lansing in 1896 (Watkins, 1900: 73; Barrows, 1912: 537-39) ; in Kalamazoo County it arrived in the middle or late 1870's (U.M.M.Z., specimen, May 3, 2023) and soon became common (Gibbs, 1879: 487; 1885: 118; 1899o; 6; Cole, 1899:6) , but later became very scarce. Shuver (1899: 18) found it "quite abundant" in Van Buren County in 1893. A. B. Durfee found it "fairly common" near Grand Rapids (Mulliken, 1896a: 77), and Cole (1899: 6) and Mulliken observed it in the summer of 1896 in western lonia County.

Except for 1934, the reports from later decades are few and indicate that the Dickcissel is usually rare and irregular, as in Washtenaw County (F. N. Wilson, 1930: 331-34; and notes); in Livingston County (U.M.M.Z.); in Jackson County (U.M.M.Z.); in Calhoun County (Walkinshaw, 1929o: 337-38; 1939: 107-8; and notes; R. E. Olsen, 1932: 483); and in Kalamazoo County (F. W. Rapp, 1931: 25). In 1934, however, the species was rather general in distribution. It was common in the Erie marsh, Monroe County, area (L. W. Campbell, 1940: 163-64), where 60 Dickcissels were noted and specimens (U.M.M.Z.) collected on June 13 by R. E. Olsen and D. W. Douglass, and over 100 seen on July 8 by R. E. Olsen and other observers. The species was found and specimens (U.M.M.Z.) collected, during that summer in alfalfa and clover fields throughout the southernmost 2 or 3 tiers of counties (R. E. Olsen, 1935 : 100), as many as 15 Dickcissels being seen on July 15 in a small tract in Convis Township, Calhoun County (Walkinshaw, 1941: 126). At Fish Point, Tuscola County, R. E. Olsen (1935:100) and N. A. Wood found 20 Dickcissels on July 17, 1934, and collected specimens (U.M.M.Z.) ; on the following day they saw 10. In the same year the species occurred considerably farther north, in at least 3 areas: north of Acme, Grand Traverse County, Walkinshaw observed a male singing on June 15; Mrs. F. J. Fessenden and Mrs. Bailey noted an individual between Ironton and East Jordan, Charlevoix County, on June 12; Bryens (1939: 102) noted 1 at McMillan, Luce County, on June 29.

The 2 or 3 dozen breeding records on file are almost exclusively from the southernmost 2 tiers of counties, only a few referring to St. Clair and Ingham counties in the third tier. Egg sets have been found chiefly from June 1 (1891, in Wayne County-J. B. Purdy, 1895: 37) to early July, and rarely to early August (August 2, fresh eggs, in Van Buren County- Shuver, 1899: 18; and August 5, eggs about ready to hatch, in Wayne County-J. Claire Wood, 1907/: 33). Nestlings have been reported as early as June 10 (1928, in Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County, 3 birds-F. W. Rapp, 1931: 25). In Wayne County on July 30, 1899, J. Claire Wood (1905d: 66-67) collected a fledgling (U.M.M.Z.).

SPRING.-Information is very meager on spring arrival, which seems to occur principally in the last 2 or 3 weeks of May. In the Toledo-Erie marsh area (L. W. Campbell, 1940: 163-64, 196, 209) the species has appeared by May 9, individuals averaging May 14 and the main flight averaging May 21; in the Erie marsh, Trautman noted 15 Dickcissels on May 27, 1934. At Ann Arbor several specimens (U.M.M.Z.) were taken in 1895 by N. A. Wood and D. C. Worcester on May 8 (1), May 18 (1), and May 28 (4). In the vicinity of Battle Creek, Walkinshaw (1939: 107-8) has observed the species by May 23, the average date for 5 years being May 28. At Kalamazoo, however, D. E. Nolan secured a specimen (U.M.M.Z.) as early as May 3, 1879.

FALL.-Records for fall are even less adequate, migration apparently taking place mainly in August. Walkinshaw (1939: 107-8; 1941: 126) has usually found the Dickcissel near Battle Creek until sometime in July and, in 1934, until August 5. At Jackson an individual was taken September 8, 1941, by Harold F. Wing, and 1 was listed in western Washtenaw County on September 28, 1923, by Fargo and E. Kief. At St. Clair, Swales saw an individual on August 28, 1893, and another on August 27, 1896. L. W. Campbell (1940:163-64, 196, 209) says: "After the song period ends about August 1, they [Dickcissels in the Toledo-Erie marsh area] are extremely hard to find''; they have been noted there usually until mid- August and on occasion until September 10. A specimen (U.M.M.Z.) was taken in the Erie marsh September 5, 1936, by L. W. Campbell, and 4 individuals recorded there September 9, 1934, by Trautman.

Museum 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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