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 Red-winged Blackbird

Status in Michigan
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 Red-winged Blackbird.

Use the links below to view the Red-winged Blackbird reports in the respective databases.
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Active Database - Spring 2005
View Red-winged Blackbird sightings.
Red-winged Blackbird Archives Reports
Fall 2003 1881
Spring 2003 751
Winter 02-03 23
Fall 2002 2150
Summer 2002 271
Spring 2002 2088
Winter 01-02 90135
Fall 2001 1245
Summer 2001 66
Spring 2001 1840
Winter 00-01 526
Fall 2000 753
Summer 2000 102
Spring 2000 2132
Winter 00-99 75367
Fall 1999 439
Spring/Summer 1999 31

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Red-winged Blackbird

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

Agelaius phoeniceus phoeniceus (Linnaeus)
Eastern Red-wing (A.O.U. 1998: Red-winged Blackbird)

Common summer resident. Not reported from Isle Royale.

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

SPRING.-The Eastern Red-wing appears in the southern counties in late February and early March and reaches the Upper Peninsula in the latter part of March.

Lower Peninsula.-Swales (1903: 37) reported first arrivals in south- eastern Michigan in March. In 1908, he saw 100 on March 6, but main flight is not usually recorded until after mid-March. L. W. and B. B. Camp- bell reported 3000 on April 1, 1934, in Erie Township, Monroe County. Red-wings have been noted in the Ann Arbor area in late February and early March; F. Novy reported 10 there on February 18, 1915; Leonard Wing reported 100 on March 18, 1926; D. Magoon collected a specimen (U.M.M.Z.) at Ann Arbor on March 2, 1929, and L. D. Case another (U.M.M.Z.) on March 9, 1936. Walkinshaw regularly observed the Red- wing in late February or early March in the vicinity of Battle Creek from 1930 to 1940, and Pirnie saw a flock of over 200 at Napoleon, Jackson County, on March 14, 1940. G. A. Ammann noted the Red-wing at the Prairie Farm, Alicia, Saginaw County, on March 8, 1940.

Upper Peninsula.-Christofferson, at Blaney, Schoolcraft County, and Bryens, at McMillan, Luce County, have reported arrival after the middle of March; Christofferson recorded a Red-wing on March 19, 1938, 8 Red- wings on March 26, 1938, and 12 on April 7, 1940; Bryens recorded Red- wings on March 19, 1938, and March 25, 1939.

SUMMER.-Eastern Red-wings are found nesting from the first "week in May to the latter part of June.

Lower Peninsula.-Numerous nests of the Eastern Red-wing have been reported in the Ann Arbor area in May and June: one with 4 eggs was found by G. A. Ammann on May 9,1936, and young at all stages of development were noted by Van Tyne on June 3, 1936. N. A. Wood (1922: 20) believed a few Red-wings nested in Berrien County; F. W. Rapp (1931:20) found one nest with 4 eggs on May 2, 1896, near Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County, and "Walkinshaw found 2 nests, each with 4 young, on May 8, 1938, in Convis Township, Calhoun County. G. A. Ammann found a nest with 2 eggs, May 11, 1940, at the Prairie Farm, Alicia, Saginaw County. N. A. Wood and Gaige (1911: 290-91) found a nest with 2 eggs on June 24 in northwestern Huron County, and collected several specimens (U.M.M.Z.) there. Chancy (1910: 275) listed the Red-wing as common in western Mason County, and A. E. Staebler and L. D. Case found about 20 nesting pairs, and collected several specimens (U.M.M.Z.), on North Manitou Island, Leelanau County, in late June, 1940. Van Tyne (1925: 621) noted the species rather uncommonly on the mainland of Charlevoix County; R. E. Morrill (in 1937 and 1938), T. D. Hinshaw (in 1937), and Van Tyne (in 1938) secured specimens (U.M.M.Z.) on Beaver and adjacent islands of Charlevoix County in late June and early July. In the vicinity of Douglas Lake, Cheboygan County, Blanchard and Nelson (MS of 1937) found a nest with 4 eggs on July 4 and another with 4 eggs on July 15.

Upper Peninsula.-The Red-wing was noted as a common breeder on Lea Cheneaux Islands, Mackinac County, by Van Tyne (1923: 23). Ob- servers have found a number of nests at Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County: Christofferson and Magee noted 2 nests, each with 4 eggs, and one nest with 2 eggs there on May 29, 1922; the second week of June, 1934, Walkinshaw and F. C. Gillett discovered 5 nests there, each with 4 eggs. In Chippewa County, T. D. Hinshaw and R. A. MacMullan secured several Red-wings on Drummond Island in July, 1938. N. A. Wood found 1 to 3 pairs nesting at Whitefish Point, Chippewa County (1914: 67), and saw Red-wings occasionally at Whitefish Lake, Alger County (1918:10). S. S. Gregory, Jr. (1929: 180), listed the species as a rather rare summer resident in the Huron Mountains, Marquette County; Van Tyne saw 6 nesting pairs there in late June, 1936, collecting 2 specimens (U.M.M.Z.) on June 25. At Brown Lake, Dickinson County, where he secured several specimens (U.M.M.Z.), F. M. Gaige (1914: 84) noted a "large colony" of breeding birds and observed the young flying about by the first of August.

FALL.-Migration is usually reported in September and early October. Upper Peninsula.-R. Bohland collected a specimen (U.M.M.Z.) at Lake Gogebic, Gogebic County, on October 15, 1940; Trautman observed 45 Red- wings there on October 3, 1934, and 40 near Covington, Baraga County, on October 5, the same year. F. M. Gaige (1914: 84) noted only a few at Brown Lake, Dickinson County, after August 9. Bryens has recorded considerable numbers at McMillan, Luce County, in September and early October (600 on September 11, 1938; 510 on October 9, 1940; 350 on October 2,2023) . Fargo collected 2 specimens (U.M.M.Z.) at Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County, on September 5, 1927, and Christofferson took 1 (U.M.M.Z.) there on October 20,1928.

Lower Peninsula.-Trautman has observed numbers at Houghton Lake, Roscommon County, in mid-October and later (200 on October 10, 1938; 80 on October 18,1936; 15 on November 10,2023). In the southeast corner of Michigan, Swales noted "thousands" in the marshes near Grosse lie, Wayne County, between October 1 and 26, 1911. Trautman and E. L. "Wickliff listed a total of 1500 at Point Mouillee and the Erie marsh, Monroe County, on September 13 and 14, 1932. Specimens (U.M.M.Z.) have been taken in the southeastern counties on October 29,2023 (by J. Claire Wood in Ecorse Township, Wayne County); on November 17,2023 (by L. D. Case near Ann Arbor); and on November 25,2023 (by "W. H. Grant near Ann Arbor).

Agelaius phoeniceus arctolegus Oberholser* Giant Red-wing

Transient; occasional winter visitant.

First listed for Michigan by Oberholser (1907: 332-36).

SPRING.-The Giant Red-wing has been taken in the Lower Peninsula in March and April. Among the specimens in the Museum of Zoology are the following: from Erie Township, Monroe County, single specimens collected by Brodkorb on March 23, 1935, and by A. D. Tinker on April 8, 1934; from "Washtenaw County, single specimens by S. D. Knox on March 20, 1937, and by J. W. Harris on April 27, 1895. There are 2 spring specimens from the Upper Peninsula: 1 from Marquette, secured by W. C. Beckman on April 15,1938, and 1 from Copper Harbor, Keweenaw County, by N. A. Wood (1933: 723) on April 25,2023 (this specimen was originally listed as an Eastern Red-wing, but was subsequently identified as A. p. arctolegus).

SUMMER.-Oberholser, cited above, included northern Michigan in the breeding range of the Giant Red-wing. He believed the specimens (now in the Museum of Zoology and the Max M. Peet collection), taken in the Porcupine Mountains, Ontonagon County, and on Isle Royale, during the second week of August and in early September, to be breeding birds. But although a number of specimens of young of the year have been taken on Isle Royale (in late August) all are full grown and presumably capable of sustained flight. One specimen (an adult female, taken August 8, 2023) has been taken in the Porcupine Mountains. The only definite summer record is a male Giant Red-wing (U.M.M.Z.) collected by R. E. Olsen (1935:100) and D. W. Douglass in Erie Township, Monroe County, on June 13, 1934; it was heard singing.

FALL.-Numerous specimens have been taken on Isle Royale** from mid- August to mid-September. The one specimen (U.M.M.Z.) from the Porcupine Mountains, mentioned above, was collected by 0. McCreary on August 8, 1904. Two specimens (U.M.M.Z.) were collected at Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County, by Fargo, on September 5, 1927. Early fall specimens have been taken in the southern counties of the Lower Peninsula as follows: October 16, 1923, at Waterloo, Jackson County, by Walter Koelz; October 5, 1935, near Ann Arbor, by W. Baughn; October 29, 1899, in Ecorse Township, Wayne County, by J. Claire Wood.

WINTER.-Since apparently no specimen of the Eastern Red-wing has been collected in Michigan in winter, all winter sight records are presumed to refer to the Giant Red-wing.

Upper Peninsula.-Magee (1922c; 95; 1923o: 121) saw a Red-wing at Sault Ste Marie, on November 21, 1921, and observed it throughout the �winter until April 23, 1922; the following winter 1 was again noted in the same locality from November 24 to December 25. Christofferson banded 1 at Blaney, Schoolcraft County, on February 17, 1933, and Bryens recorded 1 at McMillan, Luce County, on December 2, 1938, and 1 on December 24, 1934.

Lower Peninsula.-P. W. Rapp (1931: 20) recorded Red-wings at Vicks- burg, Kalamazoo County, from January 22 to February 7, 1922. Fargo and others (1928: 51) noted 20 in eastern Jackson County on December 24, 1927, and Stowell (1903: 26) observed a male at Drayton Plains, Oakland County, throughout the winter of 1901-2. There are at least 12 specimens (U.M.M.Z.) from Erie Township, Monroe County, taken between late December and the end of January. L. W. Campbell (1940: 157-58, 198) found the Giant Red-wing a regular winter visitant in the Toledo-Erie marsh area, where flocks of from 50 to 250 are commonly seen. The flocks are generally noted there from the latter part of November to early February.

* Barrows (1912: 442-43) listed the specimens from Isle Royale as "Agelaius phoeniceus fortis. Thick-billed Redwing."

** Peet (1909: 362-63) reported that both the Eastern and the Giant Red-wing had been taken on Isle Royale, but all of the specimens (U.M.M.Z. and Max M. Peet collection) secured there have been identified as the Giant Red-wing.

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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