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 Northern Bobwhite

Status in Michigan

Early Spring Date

Late Fall Date
Note: Early and Late Dates are being researched.
Image Credits
Count totals in the NMB Databases for Northern Bobwhite.

Use the links below to view the Northern Bobwhite 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 Northern Bobwhite sightings.
Northern Bobwhite Archives Reports
Spring 2005
Fall 2004
Spring 2004
Winter 03-04
Fall 2003 2
Spring 2003 9
Winter 02-03 0
Fall 2002 20
Summer 2002 2
Spring 2002 7
Winter 01-02 15
Fall 2001 21
Summer 2001 3
Spring 2001 4
Winter 00-01 0
Fall 2000 1
Summer 2000 15
Spring 2000 9
Winter 00-99 4
Fall 1999 0
Spring/Summer 1999 2

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Northern Bobwhite

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

Colinus virginianus virginianus (Linnaeus)
Eastern Bob-white (A.O.U. 1998: Northern Bobwhite)

Permanent resident; has spread north in recent decades to the Straits of Mackinac, but is rare and local north of Newaygo and Gladwin counties.

First authoritatively listed for Michigan by Sager (1839 : 416).

The northward spread of the Bob-white into Michigan followed the extension of land clearing and grain growing in the nineteenth century. At times the species has been very abundant, as in 1863 at Saginaw (Mershon, 1923: 7-9), but at other times very greatly reduced in numbers. After a period of relative scarcity, recovery has been steady since 1936, according to Ruhl (1937:218; 1939; 253-54; 1941:243), who expressed the opinion that the species is again common in suitable habitats, particularly in the 2 southern tiers of counties.

Among recent records are 25 Bob-whites seen on October 2, 1938, near Pontiac, Oakland County, by R. E. Olsen, and the same number on January 2, 1939, near Ann Arbor, by R. E. Morrill. In Jackson County, as many as 135 were counted on December 23, 2022 (Fargo and others, 1929:46) , and 25 pairs were found in a nesting census taken on July 6, 2023 (Leonard "Wing and others, 1930: 63-64). The "nearly quail-less area" (A. Leopold, 1931: 32-33, 62) that apparently extends around the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan as far at least as northwestern Indiana, seems to follow the Michigan shore line as well, but the data are scanty. Brodkorb took a downy male (Max M. Peet collection) on August 4, 1929, at Michillinda, Muskegon County. The species seemed to be uncommon along the shore of Berrien County from 1917 to 1920 (N. A. Wood, 1922: 12), but common northward in Mason County in 1909 (Chaney, 1910: 273). David E. Davis said that in Benzie County it was "common from 1931-33 and then vanished"; he saw one bird there on July 18, 1938, and heard several in July, 1940. Some were also seen in Charlevoix County in the summers of 1922 and 1923 (Van Tyne, 1925: 616). In Cheboygan County, at Douglas Lake, it was rare in 1911 (N. A. Wood, Smith, and Gates, 1916: 9) and in 1913 and 1914 (Compton, 1914: 178-80) ; at Duncan Bay (Cheboygan) 4 were noted May 29, 1937, by Theodora Nelson (Blanchard and Nelson, MS of 1937).

Fifteen were observed on September 27, 1934, at Fish Point, Tuscola County (R. E. Olsen and N. A. Wood). Miller Empey said on February 6, 1937, that at Freeland, Saginaw County, the severe winter of 1935-36 "killed them all," and that he had seen none since. Max M. Peet collected 1 on May 27, 1934, at Linwood, Bay County. J. C. Salyer discovered a covey of 7 on November 16, 1933, 10 miles north of Gladwin; and on a trip in late June and early July, 1926, Trautman saw the species as far north as West Branch, Ogemaw County. It was noted occasionally in summer in the early 1900's in Roscommon, Crawford, and Alcona counties (N. A. Wood and Frothingham, 1905: 46; Frothingham, 1906: 158).

Though there have been numerous reports of the planting in Michigan of the southern Bob-white, and of Bob-white from elsewhere, very few definite instances are known. Fargo stated that in Jackson County, Robert Kennedy released 46 Texas Bob-whites 10 miles southeast of Jackson in the summer of 1927, and W. R. Reynolds released 18 adults (from the Game Conservation Institute of Trenton, New Jersey) 6 miles south of Jackson in the spring of 1933. The result of these plantings is not certainly known. Chase S. Osborn wrote in 1933 that he had tried on numerous occasions to plant Lower Peninsula birds in Chippewa County; he knew that some of them had frozen to death and presumed that the rest had.

There were reports from the eastern end of the Upper Peninsula in 1928 and 1932, but these lack confirmation, as do earlier ones from Mackinac Island (S. E. White, 1893: 223) and from Keweenaw Peninsula (Kneeland, 1857: 237).

Breeding.-Nests and eggs have been found from late April to late September, but most commonly in June and July. Several sets of eggs (U.M.M.Z.) have been collected: a set of 14 at Ann Arbor on June 5, 1897, by N. A. Wood; a set of 11 at Brooklyn, Jackson County, on June 27, 1924, by W. L. Boyd; and a set of 6 at Hillsdale, on April 29, 1896, by C. L. Cass. In the vicinity of Battle Creek, Walkinshaw found 11 newly-hatched young on August 25, 1930, and has noted several nests there in July. At Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County, F. W. Rapp (1931: 11) has found nests from May 11 (1895, with 11 eggs) to July 24 (1898, with 9 eggs), and 1 nest as late as October 25 (1928, with 10 eggs). Near Caro, Tuscola County, E. Van Winkle (1891: 162) recorded a nest with 11 eggs that hatched on September 29 (1890).

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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