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 Purple Finch

Status in Michigan
Fairly Common Transient summer resident

Early Spring Date

Late Fall Date
Note: Early and Late Dates are being researched.
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Count totals in the NMB Databases for Purple Finch.

Use the links below to view the Purple Finch reports in the respective databases.
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Active Database - Summer 2005
View Purple Finch sightings.
Purple Finch Archives Reports
Spring 2005
Fall 2004
Spring 2004
Winter 03-04
Fall 2003 156
Spring 2003 68
Winter 02-03 68
Fall 2002 9
Summer 2002 16
Spring 2002 154
Winter 01-02 54
Fall 2001 128
Summer 2001 11
Spring 2001 147
Winter 00-01 639
Fall 2000 86
Summer 2000 24
Spring 2000 64
Winter 00-99 101
Fall 1999 33
Spring/Summer 1999 11

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Purple Finch

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

Carpodacus purpureus purpureus (Gmelin)
Eastern Purple Finch (A.O.U. 1998: Purple Finch)

Common transient. Summer resident north of the Saginaw-Grand valleys. Winters irregularly in the north, fairly commonly in the south.

First recorded for Michigan by Kneeland (1857: 236).

Magee (1926: 164; 1935: 102-3; 1939: 73; 1940: 90), who banded 23,000 of the species between 1922 and 1940 at Sault Ste Marie, and Weaver (1940: 80 ff.) show that, though Purple Finches migrate chiefly north and south, some move in an east-west direction.

SPRING.-The Purple Finch leaves southern counties usually by late April or the first part of May; it arrives in the Upper Peninsula in March and April, becoming very common there by May or sometimes by late April.

Lower Peninsula.-In the Toledo-Erie marsh area, the species has usually been present until May 4, and on occasion until May 21 (L. W. Camp- bell, 1940: 164, 198). At Detroit, Swales (1903: 37; and later notes) re- corded a flock of 20 or more on May 12, 2023 (specimens in U.M.M.Z.), and listed the species until May 18 (1909), when he saw 5 individuals. The species has often been found until mid-May (U.M.M.Z.) at Ann Arbor, where, according to Washburn (1889: 279-80), specimens were taken as late as May 24. Walkinshaw (1939: 109, 110) gives April 28 as the aver- age, and May 14 as the latest, date of departure from Battle Creek. N. A. Wood (1922: 21) found this finch abundant in Berrien County in 1919 (May 5, large flock, specimens in U.M.M.Z.; May 21, small flocks).

Upper Peninsula.-At Sault Ste Marie (Magee, 1924: 606), where the species winters rarely and summers commonly, spring arrival is reported from March 7 to April 22, with an average for earliest arrivals of April 7. Some indication of the numbers of Purple Finches present there in spring is provided by Magee's banding of more than 800 at his feeding station during the month of May, 1928 (Whittle, 1928: 110). A specimen (U.M.M.Z.) was collected at Houghton on March 27, 1905; at Copper Harbor, Keweenaw County, in 1931 (N. A. Wood, 1933: 724), the species be- came common in mid-May. On Isle Royale in 1937, Laurence Dayton listed it on April 21 and May 6; in early May, 1930, N. A. Wood saw the species regularly there (a flock of a dozen on May 8).

SUMMER.-Nests and eggs of the Purple Finch have been found from the latter part of May to early July. Fledglings have been noted by mid- June.

Lower Peninsula.-Reports of this species nesting in several southern counties (St. Clair, Ingham, and Kalamazoo-Barrows, 1912: 468-69) apparently should be discounted until further reports are available. The species was seen rarely at Sand Point, Huron County (N. A. Wood and Gaige, 1911: 291; U.M.M.Z.), from mid-June through August, 1908. Single specimens have been taken near West Branch, Ogemaw County, on June 22, 1935, by Walter Koelz (in his collection) ; near Grayling, Crawford County, on July 16, 1932, by Leonard Wing (U.M.M.Z.) ; at Alpena, on June 16,2023 (U.M.M.Z.) ; near Clear Lake, Montmorency County, on June 4, 2023 (U.M.M.Z.) ; at Waters, Otsego County, on June 10, 1938, by C. H. "Westman (Max M. Peet collection). A. E. Staebler and L. D. Case ob- served several in June and July, 1939, on the Fox Islands, and in June and July, 1940, on the Manitou Islands, Leelanau County. On Beaver Island, Charlevoix County, Purple Finches were "not uncommon" in July, 1904 (Barrows, 1904: 80), and were very common in June and July, 1937 (T. D. Hinshaw and R. E. Morrill; U.M.M.Z.). Widmann (1902: 235) saw a few in southern Emmet County in 1901. Blanchard and Nelson (MS of 1937) found 3 nests in the Douglas Lake region, Cheboygan County: one with 3 fresh finch eggs and 1 Cowbird egg, on June 27; another, with 1 finch egg and 2 Cowbird eggs, on July 7; and the third, with 3 young ready to fly, on July 20.

Upper Peninsula.-In Chippewa County, on Drummond Island, T. D. Hinshaw and R. A. MacMullan saw Purple Finches frequently in June and July, 1938, MacMullan collecting a laying female (U.M.M.Z.) there on June 18; according to Walkinshaw, E. M. Brigham, Jr., found a nest at Munuscong Bay on May 29, 1939; Magee (1919: 237; 1924: 607) has given June as the chief nesting period at Sault Ste Marie, where he usually re- cords fledglings during the first half of July (once as early as June 15). The species was observed in the summer at Whitefish Point, Chippewa County, by N. A. Wood (1914: 67) ; at McMillan, Luce County, by Bryens; and at Blaney, Schoolcraft County, by Christofferson. In Marquette County, John N. Lowe and W. C. Beckman found a nest near Marquette, and in the Huron Mountain region, Christy (1925: 213) and S. S. Gregory, Jr. (1929: 181), listed the species as "fairly common." The Purple Finch has been reported and specimens (U.M.M.Z.) collected, in Dickinson County (F. M. Gaige, 1914: 85) ; in the Porcupine Mountains, Ontonagon County (N. A. Wood, Peet, and McCreary, 1906: 117) ; at Ironwood, Gogebic County, in 1932 (Leonard "Wing, 1940: 194) ; and at Copper Harbor, Keweenaw County (N. A. "Wood, 1933: 724). The Purple Finch has been found commonly, and specimens (U.M.M.Z.) collected, in summer on Isle Royale by various observers (Max M. Peet, 1909: 364-65; data of 1929 and 1930) .

FALL.-Migrants usually leave the "Upper Peninsula by late October; in counties south of the summer range, migrants generally begin to arrive in late September or early October.

Upper Peninsula.-In Houghton County, 8 miles southwest of Gay, Keweenaw County, E. E. Olsen and A. D. Tinker saw 100 Purple Finches on August 23, 1937; the same observers noted 50 (one in U.M.M.Z.) near Deer Park, northern Luce County, on August 30, 1934. "Whether these August birds were summer flocks or migrating groups is uncertain. At Huron Mountain, Marquette County, S. S. Gregory, Jr. (1929: 181), listed the species until October 22. At Sault Ste Marie (Magee, 1924&: 606) the birds usually depart between October 18 and November 17, the average date being October 28.

Lower Peninsula.-Near Norwood, Charlevoix County (Van Tyne, 1925: 622), Walter E. Hastings found the species abundant on November 23, 1910; on Charity Island, Huron County, N. A. Wood (1911: 100) noted flocks in the last third of August, 1910, including 1 flock of 50. Considerably south of the breeding range, Leonard Wing collected a specimen (U.M.M.Z.) at South Haven, Van Buren County, on September 19, 1931. In the Battle Creek area (Walkinshaw, 1939: 109, 110) and at Ann Arbor (U.M.M.Z.), the species has arrived occasionally in the middle third of September, though usually not until late September or early October; in Hart- land Township, Livingston County, 20 Purple Finches were observed by A. D. Tinker and R. E. Olsen on September 29, 1935. About Detroit, a specimen (U.M.M.Z.) was taken as early as September 9 (1906) by J. Claire Wood (1907e; 72); sometimes the species has been "unusually abundant" there in October (Swales, 1905: 110; and notes; Swales and Taverner, 1907 : 144). On October 23, 1904, near Atlas, southeastern Genesee County (Swales, 1905: 110), it was found "in numbers in each piece of woodland visited." In the Toledo-Erie marsh area (L. W. Campbell, 1940:164,198) it has appeared as early as August 28, but usually not until October 3.

WINTER.-Bryens (1939: 103), at McMillan, Luce County, as well as Magee (1924: 606) and Christofferson (notes), at Sault Ste Marie, Chippewa County, have found a very few of these finches during winter seasons. B. H. Manville observed 2 at Huron Mountain, Marquette County, on February 1, 1941. John N. Lowe (letters, January, 1932) reported that Purple Finches were present on January 13 and 22, 1932, at Marquette. Reports from Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County (F. W. Rapp, 1931: 21); the Battle Creek area (Neff and Walkinshaw, 1931: 56; Walkinshaw, notes) ; Jackson County (Fargo and others, 1927: 35; 1931: 56; U.M.M.Z.) ; and the Ann Arbor region (J. and C. H. Van Tyne, II, 1920: 34; 1926: 37-38; other data: U.M.M.Z.) indicate that this finch is only irregularly common in winter in southern counties. Near Ann Arbor, where a few are seen irregularly all winter, as many as 200 were observed by A. E. Staebler (near Dixboro) on February 20, 1938. Flying at tree-top level, they were grouped in a rather loose flock, and many were singing. L. W. Campbell (1940: 164) lists this finch as a "fairly common winter visitant" in the Toledo-Erie marsh area.

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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