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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 Redhead.

Use the links below to view the Redhead 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 Redhead sightings.
Redhead Archives Reports
Spring 2005
Fall 2004
Spring 2004
Winter 03-04
Fall 2003 2506
Spring 2003 708
Winter 02-03 619
Fall 2002 2828
Summer 2002 5
Spring 2002 1035
Winter 01-02 1606
Fall 2001 218
Summer 2001 1
Spring 2001 143
Winter 00-01 23
Fall 2000 5157
Summer 2000 3
Spring 2000 57
Winter 00-99 21
Fall 1999 211
Spring/Summer 1999 7

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Redhead

Search "The Birds of Michigan" text.

Home - Foreword - Preface - Introduction - Hypothetical List - Literature Cited

Historical Text

Aythya americana (Eyton)

Uncommon transient; local winter visitant. Twice reported in summer.

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

The species was formerly abundant in Michigan (N. A. Eddy, 1884: 41; Barrows, 1912: 90-91), but has been much reduced in numbers (Pirnie, 1935:62).

SPRING.-The presence of wintering birds confuses the records for spring migration, but movement apparently begins in the latter half of March and continues through early April.

Lower Peninsula.-L. W. Campbell (1940: 200) gave March 14 to April 20 as the average period for main flight in the Toledo-Erie marsh area. In the early part of the century, Swales reported the species common or even abundant in the Detroit area from the middle of March to early April, and recorded 4 there as late as April 24 (1912). The species is usually reported in flocks of only a few dozen in spring, but L. E. Hicks recorded a large concentration on Lake St. Clair, April 12, 1937. Redheads, usually in limited numbers, but occasionally in fair-sized groups, are reported in the Ann Arbor region from late March to early April; a specimen (U.M.M.Z.) was collected there on March 23, 1912. At Whitmore Lake, 'Washtenaw County, in 1937, A. D. Tinker, R. E. Olsen, and T. D. Hinshaw noted 200 on April 4 and on April 11, and 4 as late as May 2. At Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County, F. "W. Rapp (1931: 4) listed the species as rare; he recorded it there from March 15 to April 1. It is also rare (15 to 20 birds seen at a time) about Gull Lake in the same county (Pirnie, notes) ; Walkinshaw recorded it there as late as April 26 (1936). In 1929 N. A. Wood saw 1 or 2 birds frequently from May 3 to 9 on Beaver Island, Charlevoix County.

Upper Peninsula.-For Blaney, Schoolcraft County, Christofferson has given 1 record: 2 males and a female, April 25, 1936. On May 5, 1931, N. A. Wood (1933: 715) recorded 3 Redheads at Copper Harbor, Keweenaw County.

SUMMER.-Breeding was reported at St. Clair Flats, St. Clair County, in 1879 by Collins (1880o; 61-62), and in 1882 by Langille (1884: 467;1886 : 34-35; 1892:14-15). A juvenile (June 29,2023) and 3 downy young (June, 1881) collected at the St. Clair Flats by Collins and now in the United States National Museum have been tentatively identified as Red- heads. J. Claire Wood (1910: 37-38, footnote) recorded 4 nests there in 1908. Herbert J. Miller found 2 nests on May 28, 1941, one with 10 eggs (1 egg in U.M.M.Z.), on Lone Tree Island, Huron County, and the other with 3 eggs (9 eggs by June 4), at Fish Point, Tuscola County. Walter Koelz (notes, 1916-1918) reported "an adult male in the marshes one year during the early weeks in August" near Waterloo, Jackson County. Pirnie (1940&: 10; and notes) reported a male on June 3, 1936, near the Kellogg Sanctuary, Kalamazoo County, and also a female at Au Train Lake, Alger County, on September 8, 1939.

FALL.-In the Upper Peninsula, migration is reported from the first week in October to mid-November, and in the Lower Peninsula from October until late November, and occasionally into December. Banding records indicate an eastward or southward movement for many Redheads (F. C. Lincoln, 1934: 281-82; Pirnie, 1941o: 259).

Upper Peninsula.-A specimen was collected in Menominee County on October 2, 2023 (Pirnie, 1935: 308). At Blaney, Schoolcraft County, ac- cording to Christofferson, the species has appeared between October 2 (1931) and November 7 (1937), rather irregularly, and usually in small numbers, though in the fall of 1931, a total of 280 was counted. At Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County, Christofferson recorded a total of 100 between September 15 and November 14, 1927; he recorded the species there almost every fall-in smaller totals, but always on dates within the extremes given for 1927.

Lower Peninsula.-Redheads have occurred "for many years at such waters as Houghton Lake [Roscommon County], Gun Lake [Barry County], and Lake St. Clair, but evidently they fail to stop at most of our smaller lakes" (Pirnie, 1935: 21). A female was secured from a flock of 7 Red- heads on October 18 at Hubbard Lake, Alcona County (J. Claire Wood, 1913:14), and several specimens (U.M.M.Z.) were taken at Houghton Lake, Roscommon County, from October 9 (1935) to November 26 (1937). In 1883 in Bay County (N. A. Eddy, 1884: 41) the Redhead arrived in some numbers on September 23, was common by October 7, and abundant by October 14. Pirnie noted a flock of 15 at Wildfowl Bay, northwestern Huron County, as early as September 18 (1928) ; at the same place and at Fish Point, Tuscola County, several specimens were obtained from October 3 (Pirnie, 1935: 308) to November 6 (1927, specimen in U.M.M.Z.). R. W. Chaney (1910: 273) observed 4 at Upper Hamlin Lake, Mason County, as early as September 26. In 1939 the species arrived at the Kellogg Sanctuary, Kalamazoo County, on September 30 (Rysgaard, 1940: 19); in that vicinity, the largest numbers (15 or 20, as a rule, seen at a time) have usually been present around October 20, but in 1940, the greatest total (31 birds) was recorded on November 6 (Pirnie). There are 3 records for the Ann Arbor region: October 11, 1906, October 18, 1908, and October 26, 1930. Swales saw "several" on September 21, 1904, at St. Glair Flats, St. Glair County, and noted that they were abundant from the middle of October through November. At the North Channel outlet, in the same county, Pirnie observed 12 on October 11, 1938. At Gibraltar Bay, "Wayne County, and vicinity, Trautman found 600 on October 21, 1935. "When ice covers the feeding grounds of inland lakes and ponds in November, Lake St. Clan- is one of the few Michigan lakes at which huge flocks of bluebills, redheads, and canvasbacks usually remain well into the winter" (Pirnie, 1935: 177). Sizable numbers of the species were taken in fall between 1885 and 1901 at the Monroe marshes, according to Phillips (1925: 175).

WINTER.-J. Butler (1913: 40) saw 2 Redheads near Detroit on December 25, 1912, and Swales found the species "fairly common" at Grosse lie, Wayne County, through December 31, 1907. At Grosse lie and at Gibraltar, A. D. Tinker and R. E. Olsen observed 10 Redheads on February 10, 1935; H. W. Hann listed the species on January 31, 1931, and February 20, 1932, also in Wayne County. Inland records are rare, but a flock of 15 was seen by C. J. Spiker on January 28, 1933, at Ypsilanti, Washtenaw County. In the Battle Creek (Calhoun County) to Gull Lake (Kalamazoo County) area, Redheads were noted on December 24, 2022 (Pirnie and others, 1934:44) and on January 24, 2023 (Walkinshaw).

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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