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 Eastern Towhee

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 Eastern Towhee.

Use the links below to view the Eastern Towhee 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 Eastern Towhee sightings.
Eastern Towhee Archives Reports
Fall 2003 50
Spring 2003 102
Winter 02-03 2
Fall 2002 12
Summer 2002 13
Spring 2002 89
Winter 01-02 0
Fall 2001 19
Summer 2001 25
Spring 2001 53
Winter 00-01 3
Fall 2000 51
Summer 2000 14
Spring 2000 42
Winter 00-99 1
Fall 1999 44
Spring/Summer 1999 7

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Eastern Towhee




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

Pipilo erythrophthalmus erythrophthalmus (Linnaeus)
Red-eyed Towhee

Summer resident; common in the south; uncommon or absent in some areas of the Upper Peninsula, and fairly common in others. Winter straggler in the southernmost 3 or 4 tiers of counties.

First listed for Michigan by Sager (1839: 414).

SPRING.-Individuals are usually found in the southernmost counties by late March, but the period of general arrival there is mid-April to late May, and in the Upper Peninsula, late April to late May.

Lower Peninsula.-The average date for individuals has been March 22, and for the main flight March 31 in the Toledo-Erie marsh area (L. "W. Campbell, 1940: 168, 196, 209). The species has usually appeared at Ann Arbor in the latter half of March; the average date of its appearance over a period of 19 years at Battle Creek (Walkinshaw, 1939: 108) is March 28. In 1920 in Berrien County it was one of the most common species after April 29 (N. A. Wood, 1922: 23). In 1940 it was present by April 16 at the Prairie Farm, Alicia, Saginaw County (G. A. Ammann); N. A. Wood counted 10 at Fish Point, Tuscola County, on May 5, 1926; and D. W. Douglass reported the species to be very common at Sand Point, Huron County, from mid-April to almost mid-May during the years 1931 to 1933.

Upper Peninsula.-Brodkorb listed 1 individual in the spring of 1936, on May 10, at Whitefish Point, Chippewa County. Bryens (1939:104; and notes) recorded arrival at McMillan, Luce County, as early as April 6 in 1921, but the species did not usually arrive until the latter half of April or the first week of May. Christofferson noted it at about the same time at Blaney, Schoolcraft County. In Marquette County (0. B. Warren, 1895:192; S. S. Gregory, Jr., 1929: 183; other data) it has been observed only a few times in spring-as on May 11 and 23, 1921, and dates in late May.

SUMMER.-Egg sets have been recorded chiefly from mid-May to late- July.

Lower Peninsula.-The Towhee is a common breeding species at nearly all southern stations of report, particularly Detroit (Swales, 1903: 40; and notes); Ann Arbor; Battle Creek (Walkinshaw, 1941: 126); Kalamazoo County (Gibbs, 1885: 87; F. W. Rapp, 1931: 24) ; and Berrien County (N. A. Wood, 1922: 23). Nests are common throughout the area from mid- May to July or later; for example, in a Hartland Township swamp, it is not unusual to find 10 to 20 or 30 Towhees a day (R. E. Olsen, A. D. Tinker, and others), and 30 were seen by R. E. Olsen on June 9, 1935, at Portage Lake, Jackson County. At Sand Point, Huron County, the Towhee was a very abundant breeder in 1908 (N. A. Wood and Gaige, 1911: 293), and a number of specimens (U.M.M.Z.) were collected; but it was uncommon, there from 1931 to 1933 (D. W. Douglass). It has been common in the An Sable Valley (N. A. "Wood and Frothingham, 1905: 50; Frothingham, 1906: 160). Four incomplete nests were found at Lovells, Crawford County (Walkinshaw, 1938a;287), July 5-11, 1937. At Red Oak, Oscoda County, Van Tyne flushed a "young, bob-tailed Towhee, just out of the nest" on June 12, 1941. Chancy (1910: 276) said the species was "very abundant" in Mason County, and reported nestlings there in early July. In Charlevoix County, according to Van Tyne (1925: 623), the Red-eyed Towhee was "widely distributed and found rather commonly wherever there is much brush or undergrowth." At Douglas Lake, Cheboygan County, the species is very common (N. A. Wood, Smith, and Gates, 1916: 15; Linsdale, 1936: 161; Blanchard and Nelson, MS of 1937). Egg sets have been discovered there from June 18 to July 27; the set found on July 27 hatched on August 9. The Red-eyed Towhee is also present at this season on the Fox and Manitou islands of Leelanau County (A. E. Staebler and L. D. Case in 1939 and 1940), as well as on Beaver Island, Charlevoix County (T. D. Hinshaw and R. E. Morrill in 1937), and a number of specimens (U.M.M.Z.) have been collected on these islands.

Upper Peninsula.-Though the Red-eyed Towhee is fairly common in some areas of this peninsula, actual nest records are entirely lacking. Van Tyne (1923: 24) reported Towhees as "rather rare and very local" on Les Cheneaux Islands, Mackinac County, but T. D. Hinshaw and R. A. MacMullan collected several (U.M.M.Z.) on Drummond Island, Chippewa County, in July and August, 1938. Christofferson has listed them at Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County, and at Blaney, Schoolcraft County. In June of the successive years 1933 to 1935 L. W. Walkinshaw saw no Red-eyed Towhees at all at Munuscong Bay, but reported them common both at Blaney and at McMillan, Luce County. On September 3, 1927, also at McMillan, Bryens noted adults feeding young that were out of the nest. Towhees are present, though usually sparingly, in other localities, for ex- ample, the Lake Superior State Forest, northern Luce County (Leonard Wing, 1940: 196; Braund and Aldrich, 1941: 101); near Banat, Menominee County (U.M.M.Z.), at Rapid River, Delta County, and Alpha, Iron County (Leonard Wing, 1940: 196); at Brown Lake, Dickinson County (commonly; young birds on and after July 13-Gaige, 1914: 86) and in the Huron Mountains, Marquette County (uncommonly-S. S. Gregory, 1929:183; other data). The species was not seen on Isle Royale on earlier Museum of Zoology expeditions, but a specimen (U.M.M.Z.) was finally collected there by A. Anderson on June 1, 1930.

FALL.-The Red-eyed Towhee usually leaves the Upper Peninsula by early October and the southern part of the Lower Peninsula by late October.

Upper Peninsula.-R. E. Olsen collected an individual (U.M.M.Z.) at Little Girl's Point, northwestern Gogebic County, on September 16, 1940. The species has been present at McMillan, Luce County (Bryens, 1939:104; and notes), and at Blaney, Schoolcraft County (Christofferson), usually until the first or second week of October-at McMillan. in 1930 until October 22, and at Blaney in 1937 until October 26.

Lower Peninsula.-Chancy (1910: 276) stated that in September, 1909, in Mason County, "large flocks of migrating birds, largely immature," were seen. In 1905 Swales (1905: 113) saw an individual near Atlas, Genesee County, as late as November 24. The species leaves Battle Creek usually by October 21 (Walkinshaw, 1939:108), but remains in the Ann Arbor region as a rule until the last week of October or until early November. At Detroit in October, 1912, Swales noted 10 to 12 Towhees regularly through October 15, and 3 on October 16; on October 26, 1909, he saw 6. They have usually been found singly or in very small groups, but on September 28, 1906, a large flock of 80 to 100 was seen at the north end of Portage Lake, Livingston County (N. A. Wood, 1907 :169). In the Toledo- Erie marsh area the main flight takes place by October 22 (L. W. Campbell, 1940:168, 196,209).

WINTER.-In the Toledo-Erie marsh area L. W. Campbell (1940: 168) has found 1 or 2 Towhees every winter since 1928, as many as 6 remaining at North Cape through January of 1938. Campbell and Van Tyne collected a specimen (U.M.M.Z.) at North Cape on December 25, 1936, and 2 on February 4,1940. Swales (1912:129) reported 2 on December 19,1911, and January 29, 1905, in the vicinity of Detroit, and W. B. Tyrell noted several during the winter of 1930-31 at Scrapbook, Bloomfield Hills, Oakland County. James H. Wood reported 4 at Northville, Wayne County, on February 16,1927. At Ann Arbor the species has been found in winter on rare occasions-1 on December 26, 2022 (J. and C. H. Van Tyne), 2 on January 2, 2023 (A. D. Tinker), and 1 on January 8, 2023 (Geneva Smithe). It was present in Jackson County on December 23, 2022 (Fargo and others, 1929: 46); and in Calhoun County on December 25, 2022 (Walkinshaw, 1939: 108); an individual was banded in the latter county on December 22, 2022 (Brigham and others, 1937: 58). The species was present at Grand Rapids up to January 19, 2023 (Gleason, 1940: 63) ; and Van Pelt (1897: 45) recorded 1 at Muskegon through the "rather mild" winter of 1896-97.


Source:
MISCELLANEOUS PUBLICATIONS
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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