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 Vesper Sparrow

Status in Michigan
Fairly 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 Vesper Sparrow.

Use the links below to view the Vesper 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 Vesper Sparrow sightings.
Vesper Sparrow Archives Reports
Fall 2003 5
Spring 2003 51
Winter 02-03 0
Fall 2002 8
Summer 2002 4
Spring 2002 21
Winter 01-02 0
Fall 2001 10
Summer 2001 8
Spring 2001 27
Winter 00-01 1
Fall 2000 4
Summer 2000 10
Spring 2000 33
Winter 00-99 0
Fall 1999 5
Spring/Summer 1999 9

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Vesper Sparrow

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

Pooecetes gramineus gramineus (Gmelin)
Eastern Vesper Sparrow (A.O.U. 1998: Vesper Sparrow)

Common summer resident. Three winter records (Washtenaw and Wayne counties).

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

SPRING.-The species arrives in Michigan in late March and is common by mid-April in the Lower Peninsula and by late April in the Upper Peninsula.

Lower Peninsula.-Vesper Sparrows arrive in the Toledo-Erie marsh area as early as mid-March; the average date for arrival of individuals there is March 30 and for the beginning of main flight, April 3 (L. "W. Campbell, 1940: 172, 196, 209). Swales (1903: 38; and notes) recorded 5 on March 28, 1908, in the vicinity of Detroit, and has seen the species there occasionally on other dates in late March, but as a rule not until early April. In 1920 Walkinshaw (1939: 108-9; 1941: 127) observed the species in the Battle Creek area on March 24, but the average date of arrival for individuals, taken over a 21-year period, is April 1. F. W. Rapp (1931: 22) saw a Vesper Sparrow at Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County, on March 1, 1915. At the Prairie Farm, Alicia, Saginaw County, in 1940 G. A. Ammann recorded arrival on April 5; and D. W. Douglass found the species at Sand Point, Huron County, irregularly from mid-April to the latter part of May (1931 to 1933).

Upper Peninsula.-At McMillan, Luce County, the Vesper Sparrow arrives regularly during the second and third weeks of April, the earliest date being April 9, 2023 (Bryens, 1939: 105; and notes). Christofferson has recorded arrival at about the same time at Blaney, Schoolcraft County (5 on April 23, 1941; 10 on April 26, 1941; and 10 on April 28, 2023). N. A. Wood (1933: 725) saw 8 at Copper Harbor, Keweenaw County, on April 23, 1931; on Isle Royale, Laurence Dayton saw the species on April 27 and 30, 1937.

SUMMER.-Eggs are generally found between mid-May and late July.

Lower Peninsula.-Nests reported from the Ann Arbor area in mid- May include 1 with 4 eggs found by L. D. Case on May 11, 1936, and 1 with 3 eggs found by Frank J. Hinds on May 12, 1934. In 1931 Walkinshaw recorded a young Vesper Sparrow near Battle Creek that left its nest on May 13, and F. W. Rapp (1931: 22) has found nests with eggs in the vicinity of Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County, from April 25 (1896) to July 7 (1897). This species was listed as a common summer resident in Berrien County (N. A. Wood, 1922: 21), at the Prairie Farm, Alicia, Saginaw County (G. A. Ammann in 1940), in suitable localities in northwestern Huron County, and on Charity Island (N. A. Wood and Gaige, 1911: 292; N. A. Wood, 1912o: 186). A. E. Staebler and L. D. Case found it common on the Manitou (1940, June 15, nest with 4 eggs) and Fox (1939, June 30, young out of the nest) islands of Leelanau County. In Charlevoix County it was observed commonly on Beaver Island by Barrows (1904: 80), as well as by T. D. Hinshaw and R. E. Morrill in 1937, and was listed as the commonest sparrow on the mainland by Van Tyne (1925: 622). In the vicinity of Douglas Lake, Cheboygan County, Blanchard and Nelson (MS of 1937) discovered nests with eggs from June 22 to July 22, and nests -with young from June 22 to August 1.

Upper Peninsula.-Vesper Sparrows were found "fairly abundantly" on Les Cheneaux Islands, Mackinac County, by Van Tyne (1923: 24). At McMillan, Luce County, Bryens found nests with eggs between May 25 (1930, 1 with 4 eggs) and July 26 (1940, 1 with 2 eggs) ; and in the Lake Superior State Forest of the same county, F. "W. Braund found 2 nests, 1 with 4 eggs, on June 9 and 1 with 3 young, on June 18, 1940. A nest with 4 young was found near Blauey, Schoolcraft County, by Christofferson on June 6, 1937. N. A. Wood (1914: 68) listed the Vesper Sparrow as one of the commonest birds at Whitefish Point, Chippewa County. The species �was found to be uncommon at Whitefish Lake, Alger County (N. A. Wood, 1918: 10); and in the Huron Mountains, Marquette County (S. S. Gregory, Jr., 1929: 182). F. M. Gaige (1914: 85) found 2 nests with 3 eggs each, 1 on July 19 and 1 on July 29, in the vicinity of Brown Lake, Dickinson County, where he saw the species commonly; and N. A. Wood (1933:725) listed Vesper Sparrows as common summer residents at Copper Harbor, Keweenaw County; Wood also saw a single adult Vesper Sparrow on Isle Royale on June 1, 1930.

FALL.-The Vesper Sparrow is observed migrating in Michigan from mid-August to late October in the Upper Peninsula, and to early November in southern counties.

Upper Peninsula.-Vesper Sparrows have been seen on a few occasions on Isle Royale from late August to mid-September (Max M. Peet, 1909:365; 1909o; 117; and later data). In the Porcupine Mountains, Ontonagon County, a large flock was seen on August 3 (N. A. Wood, Peet, and McCreary, 1906: 117). S. S. Gregory, Jr. (1929: 182), recorded the species in the Huron Mountains, Marquette County, until October 1, and Trautman counted 15 to 25 Vesper Sparrows daily in the western part of the peninsula between September 30 and October 5, 1934. They were ob- served as common at Whitefish Point, Chippewa County, on August 15 and September 10, 1925, by Fargo, and in the last week of August, 1931, by A. D. Tinker and R. E. Olsen. Christofferson found the birds common during migration at Blaney, Schoolcraft County (25 on September 28, 2023), and has seen single birds there until early November (1 on November 8, 2023). At McMillan, Luce County, Bryens recorded 100 on September 11, 1924, and comparable numbers on other dates in late August and September. He reports that a few remain in the locality nearly every year until the last of October or early November (he banded 1 there on November 9, 2023).

Lower Peninsula.-J. Claire Wood (1913: 18) saw Vesper Sparrows in Alcona County until October 13, when he counted 25; N. A. Wood (1911:100) watched them migrating on Charity Island, Huron County, from September 20 to October 11. In the vicinity of Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County, F. W. Rapp (1931: 22) has seen the Vesper Sparrow until October 17 (1915); in the Battle Creek area, Walkinshaw (1939: 108-9; 1941: 127) gave October 24 as the average date of departure taken over 16 years, but found that individuals remained on occasion until November 8. Swales counted between 10 and 25 daily in the Detroit area between mid-September and late October, and saw a few there in the early part of November. L. W. Campbell (1940: 172, 196, 209) reported that most of the Vesper Sparrows left the Toledo-Erie marsh area by the end of October, but that individuals remain there as late as the last week in November.

WINTER.-D. P. Duncan and F. Wadsworth (1936: 71) observed a Vesper Sparrow near Ann Arbor on December 22, 1935, and T. D. Hinshaw saw 1 in the same locality on January 20, 1937. Swales (1912: 129; and J. Claire Wood, 1910: 41) collected a specimen (U.M.M.Z.) near Detroit on December 29, 1908.

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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