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 Indigo Bunting

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 Indigo Bunting.

Use the links below to view the Indigo Bunting 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 Indigo Bunting sightings.
Indigo Bunting Archives Reports
Fall 2003 30
Spring 2003 101
Winter 02-03 0
Fall 2002 24
Summer 2002 56
Spring 2002 153
Winter 01-02 0
Fall 2001 7
Summer 2001 65
Spring 2001 57
Winter 00-01 0
Fall 2000 14
Summer 2000 66
Spring 2000 49
Winter 00-99 0
Fall 1999 11
Spring/Summer 1999 18

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Indigo Bunting

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

Passerina cyanea (Linnaeus)
Indigo Bunting

Summer resident, fairly common in the south, much less common in the 'north. Not recorded from Isle Royale.

First authoritatively listed for Michigan by Sager (1839: 415).

SPRING.-The main flight occurs in early May in southern counties and in late May in the Upper Peninsula.

Lower Peninsula.-In the Toledo-Erie marsh area (Campbell, 1940:163, 196, 209) the Indigo Bunting has occasionally arrived by the last few days of April, but the average date for individuals is May 6, for the main flight, May 16. It has usually appeared during the first 2 weeks of May in the Detroit (Swales, 1904: 37) and the Ann Arbor regions (May 1, 1896, specimens in U.M.M.Z.). Ten to 20 birds in a day have often been ob- served during the latter half of the month in Hartland Township, Livings- ton County, by R. E. Olsen and others. The earliest arrival date at Battle Creek (Walkinshaw, 1939: 107-8) has been May 7, the average, May 13. The Indigo Bunting has been reported in Kalamazoo County (Gibbs, 1885:87) May 2 to 17, May 12 being the average date of arrival. In Berrien County, N. A. Wood (1922:23) reported that the species was very common after May 10 in 1920. Gibbs (1902: 10) listed it near Grand Rapids on May 8, 1879, and G. A. Ammann noted it at the Prairie Farm, Alicia, Saginaw County, on May 15, 1940. Ten Buntings were recorded by A. D. Tinker and R. E. Olsen (fide D. W. Douglass) in the bird wave of May 15, 1932, at Sand Point, Huron County.

Upper Peninsula.-At McMillan, Luce County (Bryens, 1939: 102; and notes), the Indigo Bunting has arrived occasionally in the middle third of May, oftenest in the last third, and sometimes not until the first week of June.

SUMMER.-Nest records extend from the end of May to late August. Lower Peninsula.-This bunting has been found breeding fairly commonly in nearly all sections of the Lower Peninsula: as in the Toledo-Erie marsh area (Campbell, 1940: 163); about Detroit (Swales, 1904: 37; and notes); in the Ann Arbor region (U.M.M.Z.); near Battle Creek (Walkinshaw, 1941: 126; and notes; U.M.M.Z.); in Kalamazoo County (Gibbs, 1885 : 87 ; Barrows, 1912 : 536-37; Rapp, 1931: 25) ; in Berrien County (N. A. Wood, 1922: 23); at Big Rapids, Mecosta County (June 16, 1896, 4-egg set, U. M.M.Z.) ; in northwestern Huron County (N. A. Wood and Gaige, 1911:293; N. A. Wood, 1912o; 186-87; U.M.M.Z.) ; and in Oscoda County (pair nesting August 16-N. A. Wood and Frothingham, 1905: 51). During the third week of June, 1942, 4 miles south of Houghton Lake, Roscommon County, N. S. Potter, III, found Indigo Buntings to be "positively abundant," although he located no nests. The birds were noted in June and July of 1939 on the Fox Islands, and in June and July of 1940 on the Manitou Islands of Leelanau County-abundantly on South Manitou-by A. E. Staebler and L. D. Case. They were common in restricted areas on Beaver Island, Charlevoix County, in 1937 (Hinshaw and Morrill; U.M.M.Z.), and a female (U.M.M.Z.) was taken June 21, 1938, on neighboring Gull Island by J. Van Tyne (see also Barrows, 1904: 80) ; the species was rather numerous on the mainland of the county (Van Tyne, 1925 : 623;U.M.M.Z.), where nests were apparently found from June 1 to August 1- oftenest about July 1-by R. H. Wolcott (Barrows, 1912: 536-37). Widmann (1902: 235) termed the Indigo Bunting "one of the common and generally distributed songsters" at Wequetonsing, Emmet County (July, 1901) . In the Douglas Lake, Cheboygan County, area it has been only a fairly common breeding species (N. A. Wood, Smith, and Gates, 1916: 16; Linsdale, 1936: 161; Blanchard and Nelson, MS of 1937). Egg sets have been reported from May 29 (1900, Oakland County, U.M.M.Z.) to August, and young birds just leaving the nest as late as August 30 or 31 (1937, Boss Township, Kalamazoo County-Floyd C. Huggett and Walkinshaw).

Upper Peninsula.-There are no actual nest records, but the Indigo Bunting has been found in summer in a few localities: Drummond Island, Chippewa County (specimens with very large gonads, taken in late June and July by Hinshaw and MacMullan in 1938) ; the vicinity of Munuscong Bay and Sault Ste Marie, Chippewa County (Christofferson and Magee); McMillan, Luce County (Bryens); Lake Superior State Forest of northern Luce County (Leonard Wing, 1940: 194) ; Blaney, Schoolcraft County (Christofferson); Banat, Menominee County (August 1, 1940, specimen, U. M.M.Z., E. T. Hooper); Golden Lake, western Iron County (10 seen June 30, and 10 on July 15, 1938, by John L. George and R. L. Patterson); Houghton and Iron counties (at borders of towns-Cahn, 1918 : 499) ; Porcupine Mountains, Ontonagon County (July 21, 1904, specimen, U.M.M.Z., Peet-N. A. Wood, Peet, and McCreary, 1906: 118); and 12 miles north- east of Ironwood, Gogebic County (July 12,1932, specimen, U.M.M.Z., N. A. Wood).

FALL.-Fall records are few, but would seem to indicate that the main flight occurs in the Upper Peninsula during August and early September, and in southern counties usually in September.

Upper Peninsula.-The time of main flight at McMillan, Luce County (Bryens, 1939: 102; and notes), is variable, but the flight usually takes place during the latter part of August and first part of September.

Lower Peninsula.-Max M. Peet has a specimen that he collected near Burt Lake, Cheboygan County, on September 9, 1940. F. M. Gaige (N. A. Wood, 1911: 104) took 1 (U.M.M.Z.) on Charity Island, Huron County, September 9, 1910. H. E. Sargent secured 1 (U.M.M.Z.) at Grand Rapids on October 1, 1903. The species usually remains until late September in Kalamazoo County (Gibbs, 1885: 87), generally until September 21 about Battle Creek (Walkinshaw, 1939: 108), and on a few occasions in the Ann Arbor region until the first and second weeks of October. In the Toledo- Erie marsh area (Campbell, 1940: 163, 196, 209), the average date for the main flight is September 30, and for individuals October 9, though a few sometimes remain until mid-October.

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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