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 Savannah Sparrow

Status in Michigan
Common Transient summer resident

Early Spring Date

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

Use the links below to view the Savannah Sparrow 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 Savannah Sparrow sightings.
Savannah Sparrow Archives Reports
Fall 2003 20
Spring 2003 67
Winter 02-03 0
Fall 2002 22
Summer 2002 10
Spring 2002 61
Winter 01-02 4
Fall 2001 37
Summer 2001 21
Spring 2001 50
Winter 00-01 1
Fall 2000 11
Summer 2000 10
Spring 2000 46
Winter 00-99 0
Fall 1999 9
Spring/Summer 1999 7

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Savannah Sparrow

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

Passerculus sandwichensis oblitus Peters and Griscom
Churchill Savannah Sparrow

Common summer resident in the north; uncommon and local in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula.

The Savannah Sparrow was first recorded for Michigan by Sager (1839:415) : "Zonotrichia savannarum."

Breeding specimens (U.M.M.Z.) of the Savannah Sparrow from the Upper Peninsula and from the greater part of the Lower Peninsula are definitely referable to the race oblitus; those from southern counties show a trend toward the eastern subspecies, savanna.

SPRING.-Arrival of individuals is usually reported in early April, main flight in the latter part of the month.

Lower Peninsula.-L. W. Campbell (1940: 196, 209) has given April 8 as the average date for the first Savannah Sparrows to arrive in the Toledo-Erie marsh area, and April 20 as the average date for main flight. Trautman reported an individual in the Ann Arbor area as early as March 31 (1935) ; R. E. Olsen and A. D. Tinker saw 2 there on April 4, 1937. At Battle Creek, Walkinshaw (1939: 108) has also seen individuals by April 4 (1935) and has listed April 13 as the average date of arrival. Leonard Wing collected 1 (U.M.M.Z.) near Jackson on March 28, 1929, and G. A. Ammann reported arrival at the Prairie Farm, Alicia, Saginaw County, on April 18, 1940.

Upper Peninsula.-Bryens (1939 : 104; and notes) has recorded first arrivals at McMillan, Luce County, usually by April 20 and, in 1938, by April 15. The species was listed as a common migrant at Copper Harbor, Keweenaw County, in early May by N. A. Wood (1933: 725), and it was seen on Isle Royale on May 12, 14, and 20, 1937, by Laurence Dayton.

SUMMER.-Nests and eggs of the Savannah Sparrow have been found from the second week in May to August 1.

Lower Peninsula.-The species is apparently local in its distribution in the southern counties, since nest records are lacking from several rather well studied areas there. Nests from the Detroit area recorded by J. Claire Wood (1908c; 223) include 1 with 4 eggs found by Wood on May 28, 1907, and 1 with 5 eggs found by H. II. Spicer on May 28, 1902. H. W. Hann found 4 young birds, a day or two old, in a nest near Ann Arbor on June 15, 1932; in 1936, a nest with 4 eggs was discovered by T. D. Hinshaw and A. D. Tinker at Portage Lake, Jackson County, on May 10, and 50 Savannah Sparrows were seen there by R. E. Olsen and Tinker on June 28. Hankinson (1897&; 47) reported a nest with 3 young near East Lansing, Ingham County, on June 21; N. A. Wood and R. E. Olsen saw 20 Savannah Sparrows on July 16, 100 on July 17, and 20 on July 18 (1934) at Fish Point, Tuscola County. Several specimens (U.M.M.Z.) were secured by T. D. Hinshaw on Beaver Island, Charlevoix County, in mid-June, 1937; nests with eggs have been found by Blanchard and Nelson (MS of 1937) at Douglas Lake, Cheboygan County, between June 29 (nest with 4 eggs) and July 25 (nest with 3 eggs), and they noted nests with young as late as August 6.

Upper Peninsula.-Walkinshaw (1937o; 312) found 12 nests at Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County, in June, 1934. Magee (1923c: 186-87) believed that the Savannah was the most abundant breeding sparrow at Sault Ste Marie; at Whitefish Point, Chippewa County, N. A. Wood (1914: 68) found a nest with 3 eggs in July and, by August 1, noted young birds of the year on the wing. In Luce County, Bryens has found nests from May 18 (1930, nest with 5 eggs) to August 1 (1929, nest with 4 eggs), and F. W. Braund found a nest with 5 young, north of Newberry, on June 21, 1940. Walkinshaw saw an adult feeding fledglings at Grand Marais, Alger County, on June 26, 1933; in the Huron Mountains, Marquette County, the species was listed as an uncommon summer resident by Christy (1925:213) and by S. S. Gregory, Jr. (1929: 182). On Isle Royale in August, 1905, a few adults were seen and a fledgling collected (August 6-Peet, 1909: 365-66).

FALL.-The main period of migration is the first half of September in the Upper Peninsula and the latter part of September in the Lower Peninsula.

Upper Peninsula.-A. M. and F. M. Baumgartner saw a total of 20 Savannah Sparrows on Isle Royale between September 2 and 6, 1938. Large numbers were seen there by Peet (1909a: 107-9) between August 31 and September 13. Ira N. Gabrielson saw 7 and collected 1, in the Huron Mountains, Marquette County, in late September, 1936. Bryens (1939: 104; and notes) has usually observed the species at McMillan, Luce County, until the second week in October and has seen it as late as November 17 (1932).

Lower Peninsula.-At Lincoln, Alcona County, J. Claire Wood (1913:18) saw 2 Savannah Sparrows on October 8, and 3 on October 10. N. A. Wood (1911: 100-101) found great numbers on Charity Island, Huron County, between September 3 and 10. On September 11 and 12 only a few were seen there, but on the following day the birds were as numerous as before, and on September 19, thousands were on the island. Nearly all of the birds left on September 20, and none was seen after October 7. At Portage Lake, Jackson County, L. D. Case collected 1 (U.M.M.Z.) on October 24,1935; Walkinshaw (1939: 108) gave October 8 as the average date of departure from the Battle Creek area though he had seen the species there as late as October 24 (1935). Swales (1903: 38) observed the species migrating through the Detroit area in September and October; Trautman saw a total of 12 Savannah Sparrows in the Erie Marsh, Monroe County, on September 13 and 14, 1932. L. W. Campbell (1940: 196, 209) has recorded the species as late as November 4 (1934) in the Toledo-Erie marsh area, but gave October 16 as the average date of departure.

Passerculus sandwichensis nevadensis Grinnell
Nevada Savannah Sparrow

Rare transient. There are 4 Michigan specimens (U.M.M.Z.) of this subspecies, collected, respectively, by Max M. Peet, near Ann Arbor, April' 28, 1907; by Leonard Wing, at Grass Lake, Jackson County, May 10, 1931; by N. A. Wood, on Isle Royale, September 26, 1929; and by Van Tyne and T. D. Hinshaw, at Portage Lake, Jackson County, on September 30, 1936.

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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