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 Northern Pintail

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 Northern Pintail.

Use the links below to view the Northern Pintail 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 Northern Pintail sightings.
Northern Pintail Archives Reports
Fall 2003 61
Spring 2003 785
Winter 02-03 57
Fall 2002 142
Summer 2002 5
Spring 2002 1696
Winter 01-02 199
Fall 2001 18
Summer 2001 2
Spring 2001 2009
Winter 00-01 7
Fall 2000 35
Summer 2000 0
Spring 2000 185
Winter 00-99 10
Fall 1999 71
Spring/Summer 1999 6

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Northern Pintail

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

Anas acuta tzitzihoa Vieillot
American Pintail (A.O.U. 1998: Northern Pintail)

Very common transient; casual summer visitant and resident; winter visitant in southern counties.

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

SPRING.-Because of wintering birds in southern counties, the beginning of the northward movement is not exactly known. Sizable flocks appear in the Lower Peninsula in late February and continue through March and early April, and occasionally to mid-May; in the Upper Peninsula migration occurs chiefly in late April and May.

Lower Peninsula.-In the Toledo-Erie marsh area (L. "W. Campbell, 1940: 186, 200) recorded individuals from February 22 to May 10 (average dates) and larger numbers from March 6 to April 18 (average dates); L. W. and B. R. Campbell saw about 750 there on April 1, 1934, and John L. George saw 100 near Monroe on March 19, 1939. In the Detroit region Swales found spring migration to be fairly light; he recorded it from March 17 (2 shot in 1907) to April 18 (several seen in 1903) ; at North Channel, St. Clair Plats, St. Clair County, he listed several Pintails on May 25, 1902, that he believed to be late stragglers. In the Ann Arbor region the Pintail has been a very uncommon transient, present chiefly from early March through mid-April; but at the Portage Lake marsh, Jack- son County, it has been noted in fair numbers. A. D. Tinker, R. E. Olsen, T. D. Hinshaw, and others, on several occasions between March 17 (1935) and April 14 (also in 1935), found flocks there of about 100 each, and in 1923 Fargo saw 6 Pintails as late as April 25. At Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County, F. W. Rapp (1931: 4) said that it was a common transient, present from March 21 to April 18. Pirnie and H. L. Bradley saw 250 near Saugatuck, Allegan County, on March 28,1938. At Fish Point, Tuscola County, in 1926, N. A. "Wood observed 1 on his arrival, April 24, 20 on the next day, and 100 to 200 on May 4 and for several days thereafter. Twenty were there on May 24, in 1936 (Tinker, Olsen, Trautman, and Hinshaw). Two or 3 together were noted at Sand Point, Huron County, a number of times until the last of May by D. W. Douglass in 1933, and on May 30, 1939, by Maurice G. Brooks. Three were at Beaver Island, Charlevoix County, on May 7, 2023 (N. A. Wood).

Upper Peninsula.-At Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County, first arrivals in 1933 were recorded on April 20 (F. C. Gillett); from at least May 1 (100 birds in 1933 by Van Tyne, almost all in pairs). Larger numbers were seen there daily (2 flocks of 200 each in 1933 by Christofferson), with the high point of 1200 (all in pairs) about May 18 or 19 in 1933 (Gillett). Walkinshaw noted 2 on May 29, 1934, at Whitefish Point, in the same county. Christofferson recorded the species from April 22 (1931) to May 18 (1930) at Blaney, Schoolcraft County (though it was often absent in spring) ; he also saw 35 on April 21,1940, at Seney in the same county. On Isle Royale, 4 Pintails were seen on May 8,1930, by N. A. Wood-the only spring record for the island.

SUMMER.-Nesting apparently begins in late April and early May.

Lower Peninsula.-At the Erie Marsh, Monroe County, L. W. Camp- bell recorded 12 on July 7, 1935, and later (1940: 43) reported that the species had been summering there fairly regularly and, according to L. Duvall, had been found breeding once (1936) ; R. E. Olsen, D. W. Doug- lass, and T. D. Hinshaw saw 8 Pintails there on June 20,1934. On Charity Island, Huron County, N. A. Wood (1912a; 181) reported a brood of young, July 6, 1911, two of which (U.M.M.Z.) on July 29 could barely fly, and on Little Charity Island, James H. Wood found a female with nest and 6 eggs (U.M.M.Z.) on May 24, 1934. Herbert J. Miller reported a nest with 3 eggs and a nest with 11 eggs on Lone Tree Island, north of Sebewaing in the same county, on May 28, 1941. On several occasions from late May to July of various years, 1 to 3 Pintails were noted by N. A. Wood, Pirnie, Maurice G. Brooks, R. E. Olsen, and others, from Fish Point, Tuscola County, north to Sand Point, Huron County; but no definite breeding evidence was found. On the opposite side of the bay at Linwood, Bay County, Miller Empey and J. E. Swackhamer reported observing a nest with 12 eggs on May 31, 1930. On Gull Island, Thunder Bay, Alpena County, C. C. and F. E. Ludwig on June 23, 1941, banded 10 fledglings. In northern Lake Michigan, on Squaw Island in the Beaver group, Charlevoix County, Van Tyne on July 2, 1938, found what he thought to be 2 families-2 adult females and several fledglings (1 in U.M.M.Z.).

Upper Peninsula.-At Seney, Schoolcraft County, where, in 1938, Brodkorb reported what were apparently 3 pairs, and (on June 9) a nest with 7 heavily incubated eggs (U.M.M.Z.), H. L. Bradley in the following year. found an adult female with 8 young at least 10 days old on June 8, and a nest with 7 eggs on June 16.

The Pintail has been seen during the nesting season in several other localities: at Thunder Bay, Alpena County (2 on June 9 and on June 10, 1922, by N. A. Wood), Gull Lake area, Kalamazoo County (one on July 30, 1936, by Pirnie), and Stony Lake, Napoleon Township, Jackson County (August 20, 1929, by Roger T. Peterson).

FALL.-Migration occurs mainly from the first or second week in September, through October.

Upper Peninsula.-On Isle Royale in fall the Pintail was apparently rare, for during several expeditions only one bird was seen (September 10, 1929, by N. A. Wood). Christofferson reported migration through Blaney, Schoolcraft County, between September 6 (8 birds in 1938) and November 1 (1931), and at Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County, from August 27 (2 in 1928) to October 15 (1927).

Lower Peninsula.-Migration (specimens in U.M.M.Z.) is well advanced by mid-September on Saginaw Bay, and at Fish Point, Tuscola County, N. A. Wood and R. E. Olsen reported 2000 on September 26, 2023 on the following day, and 100 on September 29, 1934. In the Gull Lake area, Kalamazoo County, Pirnie noted Pintails during September (September 25, fide Rapp, 1931: 4, at neighboring Vicksburg) and reaching their greatest abundance between October 1 and 20; they are also sometimes there in numbers in November, and, in 1939, up to 200 were noted during the first half of December. Specimens were collected at Waterloo, Jackson County, October 30, 1938, by Walter Koelz, and in the Ann Arbor region, where the Pintail is uncommon, on October 31, 2023 (U.M.M.Z.). Trautman found "the species abundant (1335 on September 13) in the Erie marsh, Monroe County, in mid-September, 1932, and common until late October. Trautman also secured a specimen (U.M.M.Z.) as late as November 17, 1935, in Clay Township, St. Clair County.

WINTER.-In the Gull Lake (Kalamazoo County) area, flocks of 5, 10, 20, and up to 45 have been reported in late December and in January and February (Pirnie and others, 1932: 58-59; and notes). They move about considerably, and are present in any one place for short periods only (Pirnie). One or 2 groups have been reported in winter in the Ann Arbor region. The Pintail winters regularly at the sulphur spring in the Erie marsh, Monroe County (L. W. Campbell, 1940: 44); Van Tyne and T. H. Weller found more than 500 near there on February 26, 1933.

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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