Louis J. Dombroski (LJD), Robert M. Dunlap (RMD), Kim R. Eckert (KRE), Kimberly Emerson (KEm), Rebecca Engdahl (REn), Bruce A. Fall (eBird Minnesota), Richard Fanning (RFa), James Frank (JF), Marie Friesen (MFr), Anne Geraghty (AGe), Thomas Gass (TG), Kevin Georg (KGe), Nancy Gill(NaG), Shawn Goodchild (ShG), Frank Gosiak (FGo), Michael Gray (MG), Skye Haas (SH), Mark Habermann (MHn), Liz Harper (LiH), Curtis Hart (CHa), Katie V. Haws (KVH), Nancy Henke (NaH), Liz Herzmann (LHz), Scott C. Hickman (SCH), Peter R. Hoeger (PRH), Gerald Hoekstra (GHo), Mark & Joanie Hubinger (M&JH), Heather Hundt (HeH), Matt Hysell (MHy), Karl Isley (KI), Robert B. Janssen (RBJ), Kathy Java (KJ), Scott Johnson (SJo), Clifford & Vikki Jones (C&VJ), Jeremy Joswick (JJo), Brianne Keehan (BKe), Kathy Kershaw (KKe), Ted R. Keyel (TRK), Doug W. Kieser (DWK), Jan & Larry Kraemer (J&LK), Sam Krerowicz (SKr), Jamie Krupka (JKr), Dee M. Kuder (DMK), Joseph Kurtz (JKu), Tom Lally (TLa), Tony Lau (ToL), James W. Lind (JWL), Michael Linkster (MLi), Paula Lozano (PLo), Aaron Ludwig (AaL), Tim Ludwig (TL), Kathleen Macaulay (KnM), Richard MacDonald (RMa), Mary Maertz (MMz), Michael J. Majeski (MJM), Craig R. Mandel (CRM), William C. Marengo (WCM), Dennis Martin (DMa), Kent Martin (KMa), Nathan Martineau (NM), Michael McCloy (MMc), Mike Mencotti (MMe), Jeremy Meyer (JMr), Steve P. Millard (SPM), Shannon Miller (SMi), Josiah Misselt (JMi), Alan Moss (AMs), William Mueller (WM), Gary Nelkie (GN), Chris Neri (CNe), Landon Neumann (LN), Peter Nichols (PNi), Frank J. Nicoletti (FJN), Clinton Nienhaus (CNi), Andy Nyhus (ANy), Phil Odum (PO), Tim Oksiuta (TO), Dan Orr (DOr) Mark Otnes (MO), Todd Palgut (TPa), Gary Palmer (GP), Andy Paulios (eBird Wisconsin), Darlene Peterson (DP), Kyle Peterson (KyP), Doug L. Pierzina (DLP), Ed Pike (EP), Janine Polk (JPo), David Powell (DPo), Tom Prestby (TPr), Caleb Putnam (CPu), Betty Rainwater (BR), Tom Reed (TRd), John P. Richardson (JPR), Eric Ripma (ER), Ryne Rutherford (RR), Lisa Schaller (LSc), Jim Schwarz (JSz), Adam Sinkula (ASi), Brian T. Smith (BTS), Kevin D. Smith (KDS), Mike Snable (MSn), Gerald Sniderman (GSn), Oakland Audubon Society (OAS), Joseph M. Soehnel (JMS), Tori Steely (TSy), Dana Sterner (DnS), Tyler Stewart (TSt), Tim & Barb Streeter (T&BS), Steve P. Stucker (SPS), Aaron Stutz (ASt), Alex Sundvall (ASu), Peder H. Svingen (PHS), Josh Sweet (JSw), Jack Swelstad (JSl), Jeanne & Steve Tanamachi (J&ST), Daryl Tessen (DTe), Steve Thiessen (STh), Howard C. Towle (HCT), Molly Tuma (MT). Tom A. Tustison (TAT), Holly Vaughn–Joswick (HVJ), Melody Walsh (MeW), Eric Walters (EW), Mike Wanger (MiW), Justin Watts (JuW), Garrett Wee (GWe), Tom Williams (TWi), Grant Witynski (GWi), Thomas C. Wood (TCW), Patrick Wright (PW), and Richard C. Yarsevich (RCY). We offer sincere thanks to the hundreds of additional contributors who could not be cited here individually.
Hawk Ridge (Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, Duluth, MN); L.E.M.P. (Lake Erie Metro Park, Monroe, MI); Muskegon (Muskegon Wastewater System, Muskegon, MI); Pointe Mouillee (Pointe Mouillee State Game Area, Monroe, MI); Tawas Point (Tawas Point State Park, Iosco, MI); U.P. (Upper Peninsula, MI); Whitefish Point (Whitefish Point Bird Observatory, Chippewa, MI). Since the majority of rare birds in our region are seen and photographed by multiple observers, citations generally refer to the original discoverers of the bird and/or those providing written documentation.
Waterfowl through Loons
High counts of geese in western Minnesota included 255 Greater White-fronted Geese in Pipestone Co 4 Oct (KnM, ASu) and 300 in Lyon Co 27 Oct (GWe); an estimated 4000 Cackling Geese in Lac qui Parle Co 12 Nov (KnM, ASu, LiH) were also noteworthy. Wisconsin hosted the region’s only Eurasian Wigeon in Vernon Co 24 Nov (MT). In Michigan, female King Eiders were found in Wayne Co 9 Nov+ (ph. RBo) and Iosco Co 22 Nov+ (TPa); 2 unidentified eider sp. passed Whitefish Point 11 Nov (AMB, ER). Minnesota had “inland” Harlequin Ducks—away from Lake Superior—in Cass Co 19–27 Oct (ph. REn, AxB) and 11 Nov (FGo, JSw), Carver Co 12 Nov (RMD), and along the Mississippi River in Stearns and Sherburne Cos 27 Nov+ (DP). Michigan’s 10 reports of Harlequin Duck included six at Whitefish Point 4 Nov (CNe). Whitefish Point’s fall waterbird count’s (15 Aug–15 Nov) scoter totals included 1047 Surfs, 2896 White-wingeds, and 337 Blacks; the first two totals were higher than 2016’s, as was the count’s total of 35,005 Long tailed Ducks (ER et al.). The seasonal Red-necked Grebe tally from Whitefish Point—14,459—was slightly above last year’s (ER); late August to early September is that site’s most prominent period of their flight. A Western Grebe in Ottawa Co, MI 22 Nov (ph. JKr) was easterly. Also in Michigan, up to six Eared Grebes continued at Muskegon, while singles surfaced in Berrien Co 31 Aug (MHy) and 5 Sep (RR). Wisconsin reported Eared Grebes from Jefferson Co 12–16 Nov (ASt) and Dane Co 13–16 Nov (MaD). Eurasian Collared-Doves were reported from 64 of Minnesota’s 87 counties, including the first for Cook Co 3 Nov (NaH). This species is still rare in Michigan outside of Berrien Co, where up to six were present 8 Aug (SJo); suspected hybrids are increasingly reported at this long-established site.
White-winged Doves, now annual in the region, visited Marquette Co, MI 25 Sep (NM, ph. JKu) and Racine Co, WI 31 Oct (JDx). On 23 Sep, an estimated 10,000 Chimney Swifts entered the Swift Sanctuary in Oakland Co, MI (DBe). In Michigan, an immature female Rufous Hummingbird in Tuscola Co ~1 Oct+ (T&BS, ph. ATC) was followed by an adult male in Midland Co 24 Oct–5 Nov (TWi, ph. JMS). Wisconsin reported one Rufous at a feeder in Manitowoc Co 12 Oct–11 Nov (NaG), and in Minnesota a Selasphorus sp. was in St. Louis Co 23–24 Sep (ph. DMK). King Rails in Fond du Lac Co, WI, continued from summer through 11 Aug (WM) and in Grant Co, MN through 19 Aug (KRE). Wisconsin also reported 1–2 King Rails from the Horicon Marsh in Dodge Co 13 Aug–23 Sep. Yellow Rails are just rarely detected as a fall migrant in the region, and were found in southern Minnesota’s Lyon Co 3 Sep (GWe) and Freeborn Co 27 Sep (KEm), as well as Michigan’s Keweenaw Co, in the U.P., 10 Oct (SH, GP). Minnesota’s pair of Black-necked Stilts at North Ottawa Impoundment continued through 9 Aug, but there was no evidence of breeding. Michigan hosted Piping Plovers in seven counties, including six at Whitefish Point 7 Aug (TSy). Minnesota had only two Piping Plovers, one at Salt Lake 20 Aug (ToL), the other at Zippel Bay State Park 27 Aug (ASu, LiH). In Wisconsin, a Piping Plover was in Brown Co 19 and 21 Aug (TPr,JSl). A Whimbrel at Duluth 15 Aug (JPR) constituted Minnesota’s first fall report since 2008, while there was only one report in Wisconsin: in Brown Co 11 Aug (m. ob.).
11 Red Knots in six Michigan counties was a normal amount of sightings; the latest of these was at Whitefish Point 27 Sep (ph. ER). Minnesota’s only Red Knot visited Stearns Co 4 Sep (ph. KyP). A number of Red Knots were reported from Wisconsin’s Cat Island in Brown Co 3–21 Aug, and a single individual was in Kenosha Co 2 Sep (TLa). The region’s only Ruff was in Tuscola Co, MI for the notably late dates of 4–6 Oct (ph. JMS). Sanderling in Dakota Co, MN, were record late on 26 Nov (DWK), as were Baird’s Sandpiper in Brown Co, MN 20–25 Nov (BTS) and Least Sandpiper in Dane Co, WI 20 Nov (ph. Jim Schwatz). Michigan produced four Purple Sandpipers during the period; particularly noteworthy was one mostly in juvenile plumage in the U.P.’s Alger Co 4 Oct (SCH). Minnesota reported only (approximately) 114 Buff–breasted Sandpipers, which were scattered across 24 counties; the paltry high count was only 12 birds; Michigan’s total of ~30 in 13 counties was about average; Wisconsin had reports from 11 counties, with a high count of six. Late Spotted Sandpipers were in Lenawee Co, MI 8 Nov (ph. RFa) and Rock Co, MN 15 Nov (KEm). Casual in Minnesota, a Red Phalarope at Silver Bay, Lake Co 28 Oct (KnM, KRE, WCM) marked the 4th consecutive fall appearance by this species. Jaegers showed well again this fall, especially in Michigan, which produced two Pomarines, ~25 Parasitics, three Long-taileds, and 70+ unidentified jaeger sp. One of the Pomarines lingered in Macomb Co 8–27 Nov (ph. JJo, HVJ). Whitefish Point had two of the Long-taileds, on 19–20 Sep (ER, ph. CNe) and on 14 Oct (ph. CNe), and the other passed Lakeside Park, St. Clair Co 3 Nov (ph. PO, ph. PW). Wisconsin had Pomarines in Douglas Co 11–12 Sep (JLK, ph. ClN) and Kenosha Co 3 Nov (EW), and Long–taileds were photographed in Jefferson Co 17 Sep (ASt, STh) and Douglas Co 19 Sep (TRK, PHS).
Casual in Minnesota—and especially rare away from Lake Superior—a juvenile Black–legged Kittiwake graced Hazen P. Mooers Park in Washington Co 24–25 Nov (KI, ph. MJM, ph. PNi). Five Black-legged Kittiwakes and six Sabine’s Gulls in Michigan were typical seasonal numbers. In Wisconsin, Sabine’s Gulls were documented in Burnett Co 11 Sep (ph. KJ) and Douglas Co 18 and 21 Sep (TRK, ASi). Sabine’s in Kanabec Co 4 Sep (ph. SPS), Rice Co 5–8 Oct (TFB), Le Sueur Co 8 Oct (DWK), and Brown Co 28 Oct (ph. BTS) were an average “inland” showing for Minnesota. At least 10 of ~15 Little Gulls in Michigan were adults, a total similar to last year’s. There was one Little Gull report from Wisconsin, in Eau Claire Co 18 Oct (AGe, JPo), and the species went unreported in Minnesota. In Michigan, four different adult California Gulls were documented in Berrien Co in early Sep, with one of these returning to New Buffalo for an encore 5–6 Nov (ph. CPu). Whitefish Point’s fall totals of Common Terns fluctuate considerably, and this year’s tally of 1020 was barely a quarter of last year’s number (ER et al.). The region’s only Arctic Tern reports were from Wisconsin, in Douglas Co 20 Sep (DTe) and a record-late sighting in Ozaukee Co 13 Oct (CB). A total of 687 Red-throated Loons at Whitefish Point was up from last year. It was a banner year for Pacific Loon in Minnesota, with at least nine birds along the North Shore, plus one away from Lake. Superior, in Carver Co 6–8 Nov (SCh, RBJ). In Wisconsin, a Pacific Loon was documented in Milwaukee 13 Nov (JF). Michigan recorded three Pacific Loons at Whitefish Point: 22–23 Oct (ER), 28 Oct (ER, ph. CNe), and 6 Nov (ph. ER). A total of 2422 Common Loons (with a peak of 261 on 26 Sep) was about average for recent fall counts at Whitefish Point (ER); this species has generally declined since the count began in 1989.
Frigatebirds through Thrushes
Wisconsin’s 4th Magnificent Frigatebird soared out of sight in Marathon 22 Sep (ph. MC), and in Michigan, an unidentified frigatebird sp. flying over the Mackinac Bridge 23 Sep (MSn, BR) was also seen on the same day at nearby Point LaBarbe, Mackinac Co (SBa, EP). At Pointe Mouillee, a Little Blue Heron continued from summer through 23 Aug (GSn) and a Tricolored Heron was seen 13–26 Aug (OAS, AMB). About 42 White-faced Ibis and four Plegadis sp. in seven Minnesota counties were more than usual; in Wisconsin, a White-faced was reported from Columbia Co 15–16 Oct (MaD, MMc), and a Plegadis sp. was in Dodge Co 30 Oct–5 Nov (LHz); Michigan had one Plegadis sp. in Saginaw Co 8–10 Oct (JMS).
Michigan’s 11th Swallow-tailed Kite was a first record for Hillsdale Co, and was present 20–25 Aug (ph. CHa). An immature Mississippi Kite 22–28 Aug (TG, GN) was also a Hillsdale Co first. A juvenile Broad–winged Hawk lingered at Duluth, MN through 14 Nov (AMs, ph. PHS). Michigan and Wisconsin each had two Swainson’s Hawks. Michigan’s were at L.E.M.P. 10 and 16 Oct (KGe), and Wisconsin’s were in Door Co 25 Oct (ph. MeW) and Ozaukee Co 27 Oct (WM). Three Ferruginous Hawks—now casual in Minnesota—were reported from the state’s western reaches: in Lac qui Parle Co 5 Aug (ph. DnS); in Wilkin Co 22 Aug (HHD); and in Red Lake Co 16 Oct (ph. PCt). A Barn Owl in Kewaunee Co 17 Oct was quite unusual for Wisconsin (ph. ASi). Snowy Owls in 45 Michigan, 27 Minnesota, and 51 Wisconsin counties were harbingers of an impending invasion; on 2 Nov, one of Michigan’s Snowies, in the U.P.’s Alger Co, won a standoff with a Bald Eagle over a merganser that the owl had attacked (SCH)!
At least 63 Short-eared Owls in 25 Michigan counties was a strong showing. Only one Boreal Owl was banded at Whitefish Point, but 32 were caught at Hawk Ridge by the time banding ceased for the season on 10 Dec (FJN). Dozens of American Three-toed Woodpeckers migrated along the North Shore, primarily between mid-Oct and mid-Nov; in contrast, a typical fall migration produces one at most! In Minnesota, Prairie Falcons visited Stearns Co 23 Aug (ph. DOr) and Yellow Medicine Co 27 Aug (PEB). Summer’s continuing Western Wood-Pewee vocalized in Clay Co, MN through 26 Aug (RMD, ph. at. PEB). A very late Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was banded in Macomb Co, MI 3 Nov (ATC). In western Minnesota, two Say’s Phoebes continued at Felton Prairie through 19 Aug (ph. CRM, ph. HCT), and one was found in Lac qui Parle Co 23 Sep (DLP). Wisconsin’s 8th Say’s Phoebe was photographed in Bayfield Co 23 Sep (NA, RSB).
On 4 Sep, Michigan’s 26th Say’s Phoebe was the grand marshal of the season’s rare flycatchers at Whitefish Point Sep (ph. ER). Then, the Point’s first Vermilion Flycatcher—and Michigan’s 7th—was found on 8 Oct (LN). Michigan’s 3rd Tropical Kingbird graciously vocalized at Whitefish 22 Sep (ph. ER, ph. CNe, audio LAr). Away from Whitefish Point, Michigan’s 2nd Couch’s Kingbird was in Alpena Co 21 Nov+ (ph. LDW), a Western Kingbird was at Mackinac Island 27 Sep (RMa), and a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was at Fort Mackinac 9–10 Oct (ph. TSt, PO). Whitefish Point had a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, too, on 23 Sep (DPo, ph. CNe).
Rare flycatchers were found elsewhere in the region, too. Minnesota’s 6th record of Vermilion Flycatcher was in Yellow Medicine Co 12 Oct (ph. KRE, ph. DMa). Wisconsin reported its 4th and 5th Ash-throated Flycatchers in Dodge Co 13 Aug (SKr) and Ozaukee Co 14 Oct (ph. MiW); the former date is unprecedentedly early for a vagrant that typically occurs in late fall. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers turned up in Wisconsin in Rock Co 6 Aug (EBr), Bayfield Co 18 Oct (RSB, PLo, TO) and Ashland Co 20 Oct (NA, RSB). Whitefish Point’s rarities continued with a Loggerhead Shrike 23 Sep (DPo, ph. CNe) and a White-eyed Vireo 30 Oct (CNe). Two White-eyed Vireos banded in Macomb Co 27 Oct (ATC) were also late for Michigan; one of these stayed until the 29th. Equally late was a Warbling Vireo in Lake Co, MN 28–29 Oct (ANy, DBz).
In southwest Michigan, a Fish Crow persisted in Berrien 4–6 Sep (AMB, LSc). Northerly Carolina Wrens were at Whitefish Point 20 Aug (ph. CNe), and in Minnesota at Two Harbors, Lake Co 27–29 Aug (ph. JWL) and Becker Co 22 Oct–26 Nov (ph. HeH, ShG). A Northern Wheatear in a restricted area at the Kalamazoo Airport 19 Oct (ph. TAl) was the first for Michigan since 2008. Minnesota had up to three Mountain Bluebirds in Lake Co 28 Oct–14 Nov (ph. GHo, ph. PHS), and one in Clay Co 22 Oct (PBB). Michigan’s six Townsend’s Solitaires included an early arrival at Whitefish Point 18–19 Sep (CNe). 20 solitaires in eight Minnesota counties was thrice the typical number, but Wisconsin mustered only one report, in Richland Co 14 Oct (DoB). A Wood Thrush in Dane Co 23 Nov (ph. KKe) was very late; it bears mention that Wisconsin also has two Dec records.
Michigan’s 7th Sage Thrasher was at Copper Harbor, Keweenaw Co 13 Nov (ph. LJD). Common Redpolls arrived in good numbers, being found in 62 of Minnesota’s 87 counties and 36 of 72 Wisconsin counties by season’s end. A count of 10,034 redpolls 4 Nov at Whitefish Point (CNe) was possibly record high for Michigan.
A remarkable irruption of Red Crossbills began in Aug, continuing throughout the winter. They were first noted along Minnesota’s North Shore, and at Whitefish Point and Leelanau Co in Michigan. The incursion spread to 58 Minnesota, 22 Michigan and 39 Wisconsin counties by season’s end. Call types 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10 were documented in with recordings confirmed by Matt Young and others at Cornell. The highest daily count was of 235 at Whitefish Point 29 Oct (CNe).
A Smith’s Longspur in Lake Co 28 Sep (ph. JWL), plus 2 in St. Louis Co fell along this species’ migration pattern through the North Shore. Higher than usual numbers of Smith’s were found in western Minnesota: 32 in Pennington Co 6 Oct (KRC), up to 30 in Redwood Co 21 Oct (BTS), and a late peak of 26 in Renville Co 20 Nov (RBJ). Two Spotted Towhees in southwest Minnesota the 2nd week of Oct fit the known migration pattern, but two different males in Hennepin Co 5–8 Oct (ph. PRH) and 13 Oct (TAT, ph. HCT), and a male in Ramsey Co 18–27 Nov (J&ST, ph. JuW) were less expected. Lark Sparrows showed well in five Michigan locations, and Michigan also had a Lark Bunting in Berrien Co 24 Aug (ph. BAn). Two Lark Buntings, casual in Minnesota, were in Nobles Co 7 Sep (KDS, GHo)—within this species’ historical range. In northeast Minnesota, a late Grasshopper Sparrow strayed to Lake Co 19 Oct (JWL, JMi). LeConte’s Sparrows in 48 Minnesota counties was the most ever reported in a single season. 13 LeConte’s in Michigan was more than normal, as were five Nelson’s Sparrows in four counties. Nelson’s in five counties was average for Wisconsin.
A Yellow-breasted Chat banded in Clinton Co, MI 18 Aug (ph. RCY) was recaptured there 29 Aug; another chat was at Tawas Point 10 Sep (JBo). Minnesota produced a single chat in Otter Tail Co 26 Sep (SPM), and Wisconsin had one in Ozaukee Co 12 Sep (DBa). Noteworthy counts of Rusty Blackbird in Michigan included 1696+ at Tawas Point 10 Oct (JBo) and 2500 in Monroe Co 19 Nov (MLi). Late departures for warblers were witnessed in all three states. Ovenbirds lingered in Dane Co, WI 1 Nov (ph. KKe), Kent Co, MI 2 Nov (KBo), and Hennepin Co, MN 20 Nov (TBo). Wisconsin’s 3rd-latest Tennessee Warbler visited Ozaukee Co 23 Nov (MiW). Nashville Warblers lingered in Todd Co, MN 4 Nov (AaL, TL), and in Oakland Co, MI 1 Nov (MMe) and 11 Nov (ph. RBo). Common Yellowthroats were tardy in Hennepin Co, MN 26 Nov (ASu, LiH) and Van Buren Co, MI 22 and 28 Nov (KBi, KMa). A late Hooded Warbler in Lake Co, MN 7 Oct (KRE, JWL) was also a county first. American Redstart in Dane Co 21 Nov (ph. GWi) and Bay-breasted Warbler in Milwaukee Co 6 Nov (TCW) were the 2nd and 4th latest for Wisconsin, respectively. High counts of 809 Palm Warblers and 10,329 Yellow-rumped Warblers were tallied at Stoney Point 28 Sep (TRd). An “Audubon’s” Yellow-rumped was photographed in Ozaukee Co, WI 22–24 Nov (MG, MMz, JMr).
Late Summer Tanager reports came from Barron Co, WI 26 Nov (MFr) and Macomb Co, MI 27 Nov (ph. C&VJ). Three Summer Tanagers were in southern Minnesota in Aug, and one, late, was in Duluth 21 Nov (ph. CA&TB). A female Western Tanager, quite unusual as a fall vagrant in this region, showed up in Alger Co, MI 31 Aug (M&JH). Blue Grosbeak is expanding its range in southern Minnesota, but one in Beltrami Co 29 Oct–3 Nov (ph. KVH, ph. REn) was both far north and record-late (by 30 days!). In Michigan, Blue Grosbeaks from summer continued through 1 Aug in Oakland Co (MMe) and 9 Aug in St. Joseph Co (ph. KEB); 3 at Pointe Mouillee 12 Aug–1 Sep may have been a family group (ph. SMi, OAS), while in Wisconsin one was last reported from Sauk Co 14 Aug (m. ob.). A late and northerly Dickcissel passed Whitefish Point on 8 Oct (ph. CNe).
Report processed by Alison Világ, 22 Mar 2021.