Western Great Lakes: Summer 2022

Summer 2022: 1 Jun–31 Jul

William Marengo

Recommended citation:

Marengo, W. 2022. Summer 2022: Western Great Lakes. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-ehf> North American Birds.

Dry conditions prevailed throughout the season. There was good news for one regional breeding specialty but discouraging news for another. Unusual for summer, the region experienced a parade of impressive rarities. A total of at least six first state records were found, one being a first United States record, amongst the other accidentals. Note that many of the casual and accidental species have yet to be reviewed by the state’s records committees. This report will be updated accordingly as the committees review the records.

Sub-regional Compilers
Andrew Simon (Michigan), Dar Tiede (Wisconsin), Ethan Urban (Michigan).


LP (Lower Peninsula, MI), NL (National Lakeshore), NWR (National Wildlife Refuge), SGA (State Game Area), SNA (Scientific/State Natural Area), SWA (State Wildlife Area), Twsp (Township), UP (Upper Peninsula, MI).

Waterfowl through Greater Prairie-Chicken

Casual throughout the region, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks appeared in WI in Dodge Co 2–12, Fond Du Lac Co 14 Jun, Manitowoc Co 14 Jun (Charles Sontag), Ozaukee Co 21 Jun (Paul Kreisa) and Trempealeau Co 13 Jul (Eric Julson, Kathy Morales). In MI they were found at Gallup Park, Washtenaw Co 1 Jun (Matthew Spoor, m. ob.) and at Pte. Mouillee SGA, Monroe Co 29–31 Jul (Geoff Malosh, m. ob.). Snow, Ross’s and Greater White-fronted Geese had individual reports from WI and MN through the first week of June. Both WI and MN had individual Snow and Greater White-fronted Geese reports in late July. A single Harlequin Duck spent the summer in Grand Marais, MN.

In WI Gray Partridge are considered rare. The last summer report of this species was 2019 and there have only been a handful of reports at any time over the past five years. While in MN their population is holding steady with reports from 20 counties scattered throughout the south, west and northwest regions of the state. Spruce Grouse were reported in the normal areas of Cook, Lake and St Louis counties in MN while in MI from western Marquette and eastern Baraga counties along with Chippewa and Luce counties all in the UP. Sharp-tailed Grouse were reported from Douglas and Burnett counties in northwest WI. There was a slight increase in reports from MI with concentration in Chippewa and Mackinac counties of the eastern UP. While in MN they were reported in 12 counties north and one south. Greater Prairie-Chickens held steady in WI from areas in Adams and Portage counties while in MN they were reported in the normal areas of the northwestern part of the state.

Doves through Shorebirds

WI reported a lone White-winged Dove in Kaukauna, Outagamie Co 26–29 July (Amy Sheldon). Rufous Hummingbirds made appearances in all three states nearly simultaneously as follows: in WI at Whiting, Portage Co 25 Jul (Lynn Barber, Dan Belter, Rob Pendergast), in MN at Forest Lake, Washington Co 25 Jul–8 Aug (Scott and Denise Appleton) and in MI, just a short drive away from another rare hummingbird sighting, in Marquette, Marquette Co 27 Jul–1 Aug (Hollie Langlieb). Broad-billed Hummingbirds provided MI with its third record at a residence along the shore of Lake Superior in Alger Co 15–16 Jun (Scott Hickman, m. ob.). In addition, MN’s first state record appeared for one day at a residential feeder near Elk River, Sherburne Co 23 Jul (Jerisa Grulke). MI provided the region’s only King Rail reports at Shiawassee NWR, Saginaw Co 1 Jun–4 Jul (Bob Scheidt, m. ob.) and at the Erie Marsh Preserve, Monroe Co 13 Jul (Bruce Arnold). Yellow Rails were reported from four counties in MN while MI only had a single report.

WI’s first record Limpkin appeared in Mt. Pleasant, Racine Co 21–24 Jul (Don and Dana Ruland, m. ob.). Whooping Cranes in WI were reported from nine counties where the reintroduction efforts are holding steady. Al three states had reports of Black-necked Stilts with nesting confirmed from Pte. Mouillee SGA, Monroe Co MI. A Southern Lapwing first appeared in MI near Oscoda, Iosco Co on 29 Jul and continued into the fall. It is mentioned here because of the issue of provenance. Noteworthy is that Piping Plovers staged record nesting success across the entire Great Lakes this season per the Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery Team. 72 unique breeding pairs fledged 150 chicks for all the Great Lakes. Compare this to less than 15 nesting pairs in the 1980s. Michigan was the stronghold with 48 nesting pairs with the bulk of these concentrated at Sleeping Bear Dunes NL. Piping Plovers also nested successfully in WI’s Cat Island, Brown Co and in Ashland Co. The regions only Ruff was reported from MI’s Pte. Mouillee SGA, Monroe Co 19–20 Jul (Justin Labadie, m. ob.). Unusual at this time of year a Red Phalarope appeared in MI at Greenwood, St. Clair Co 1–Jul (Brandon Aho, m. ob.). In what appears to be a first United States record a Common Redshank put in a one day, holiday appearance at Pte. Mouillee SGA, Monroe Co 4 Jul (Justin Labadie, m. ob.) and was able to be seen by dozens. Noteworthy is that another United States Common Redshank was discovered in Massachusetts at Monomoy NWR on 21 Jul. Upland Sandpipers reports were consistent with past years from all three states.

Gulls through Woodpeckers

Black-headed Gull appeared in WI in the city of Sheboygan, Sheboygan Co 12–15 Jun (Woody Goss, Alex Mann, m. ob.). Rare-regular in the region, Little Gulls in WI put in appearances with at least four birds in Sheboygan Co 1–26 Jun (m. ob.). Laughing Gulls have been recorded in WI in the summer annually since 2013. Single birds from three counties bordering Lake Michigan were found this season. The region’s only Least Tern was discovered in MN at the Woodstock WMA, Pipestone Co 12–13 Jun (Kimberly A. Emerson, John W. Hockema, m. ob.). “Horrific” and “catastrophic” are words WI DNR specialists are using to describe the mass die-off of Caspian Terns on Lake Michigan. An estimated 64% of WI’s Caspian Terns perished this season apparently to Avian Influenza (bird flu). Similar reports came from nesting colonies on the MI portion of Lake Michigan. MI’s third record Royal Tern appeared at Tiscornia Park, Berrien Co 9–Jun (Matt Bennink, m. ob.).

In MI Neotropic Cormorants spent the summer at Lake St. Clair Metropark, Macomb Co, one appeared at the Humbug Marsh, Wayne Co on 3 Jul (Robert Irwin) and in MN, for the third consecutive summer, one stayed at Richfield lake Park, Hennepin Co. Snowy Egrets appeared in two, two and three counties respectively for WI, MI and MN. Casual in MI, the regions only Little Blue Heron was discovered in Brighton, Livingston Co 20 Jun (Joseph Lipar). MI landed a Tricolored Heron at the Erie Marsh Preserve, Monroe Co 10–17 Jul (Janet Hinshaw, m. ob.). Cattle Egrets were reported from three WI counties, three individuals in two different MI counties and from eight counties in MN which is double the 10 year average. Black-crowned Night Herons continue steady in WI with reports from 22 counties, in MI with concentrations around the Saginaw Bay area and in MN there was confirmed nesting in three west-central counties. This species maintains a minimal presence in MN after years of decline. Yellow-crowned Night Herons appeared in three WI counties and only once in MN. In MI where this species is casual, they were reported as follows: in Ypsilanti Charter Twsp, Washtenaw Co 1–30 Jun (Creston Burks, m. ob.), at the Erie Marsh Preserve, Monroe Co 1–Jul (Bruce Arnold) and at the Shiawassee NWR, Saginaw Co 25 Jul through fall (Ryan Dziedzic, m. ob.). White-faced Ibis appeared for the first time at WI’s Crex Meadows, Burnett Co 1 Jun (Elizabeth Tiller) and an individual was present at the Horicon NWR, Dodge Co 2–12 Jun (m. ob.) while MI reported three individuals from two counties and MN had reports from five counties. Both are typical numbers. A Glossy Ibis also appeared at Horicon NWR, Dodge Co 11 and 17 Jun (Matt Herzmann).

Great Gray Owls were only documented in MN’s St. Louis Co and in WI one was unexpectedly found and subsequently photographed on Madeline Island, Ashland Co. Rare to uncommon in summer, Long-eared Owls were heard in three WI counties, only one was recorded in MI from Whitefish Point, Chippewa Co and just two reports from northeast MN in Jun. MN recorded its third state record Acorn Woodpecker. This time the individual cooperated over the Fourth of July holiday in Corona Twsp, Carlton Co 3–5 Jul (Russell Stewart, m. ob.). The region’s only American Three-toed Woodpeckers were documented nesting in St. Louis Co along with reports from Lake of the Woods and Koochiching counties. Black-backed Woodpeckers were documented in just two UP counties: Marquette and Alger. In MN more normal reports came from six north counties with documented nesting from three. Continuing the rarity parade and demonstrating just how unpredictable birding can be along the Great Lakes, MI’s first state record Red-cockaded Woodpecker was found in Norton Shores, Muskegon Co 1 Jul (Beth Miller) and then presumably the same individual was rediscovered in Ludington, Mason Co on 24 Jul (Kathy McKinney).

Flycatchers through Grosbeaks

Cassin’s Kingbirds provided the region with two first state records. The first was from MI’s Sleeping Bear Dunes NL, Leelanau Co 1–Jun (Kathy Kaczynski) and then in WI in Marathon Co, 5–6 Jun (Dan Belter, m. ob.). Out-of-range Western Kingbirds landed in WI in Sauk Co 11 Jun (Aaron Holschbach, Cicero Stewart) and in MI at Ludington SP, Mason Co 5 Jul (Levi Wilson, m. ob.). Scissor-tailed Flycatchers gave a similar showing with the first from Price Co, WI 8 Jun (Sue Kartman) and one in MI at the amazing location of Isle Royal NP, Keweenaw Co, 26 Jun (Dave and Sarah Fehringer). Loggerhead Shrikes were reported in average numbers with five WI counties, only one MI report and from 10 MN counties. Still casual in MN a White-eyed Vireo was discovered along the Root River Trail, Fillmore Co 10–13 Jul (Edward Hicks, Luke Hollander). MI’s Bell’s Vireo continued in Benton Harbor, Berrien Co at the same location it has been present since 2019.

Out of season was WI’s first summer record of Townsend’s Solitaire near Eagle River, Vilas Co 14 Jul (Rudy Crawford). Northern Mockingbirds become scarcer the further west one goes in the region. In MN they are rare-regular with two scattered reports from Cook and Dakota counties. Eurasian Tree Sparrows were reported twice with the first from MN, a likely carry-over from the spring, at Park Point, Duluth, St Louis Co 5 Jun (Alex Lewanski) and the second in WI near Monroe, Green Co 10 Jun (Lynn Barber). Evening Grosbeaks were reported in low numbers from WI and MN (four northern and three northeast counties respectively) but maintained consistent scattered reports around the UP and northern lower LP. Red Crossbills were scattered in normal numbers and ranges across the northern tier of the region. White-winged Crossbills were scarce in WI and MN with each state reporting only from three counties while MI had a seemingly normal summer with scattered reports across the UP and northern lower LP.

MN’s ninth Black-throated Sparrow was found in residential Marshall, Lyon Co 2–5 Jun (Mike Osmund, m. ob.). LeConte’s Sparrows in WI were only documented from three counties, the lowest since 2005 while in MI they maintain a small stronghold at Munuscong WMA in Chippewa Co. In MN they maintained a typical distribution of 25, mostly northern, counties. Nelson’s Sparrows were reported from five northern MN counties while none from WI or MI which is typical. In MI Lark Sparrows appear to be expanding their range. This season nesting evidence and juveniles were observed in Lenawee and St. Joseph counties, with at least four other individuals documented around the southern LP. Casual in MN a Lark Bunting appeared in Washington Co 13 Jun (Rick Schmid). A pair of Abert’s Towhees was discovered in Grand Rapids, Itasca Co, MN in early Apr (Daniel Troumbly, m. ob.) and continued into mid-November. The MN records committee accepted the identification and added it to the state list but categorized this record as “origin uncertain.” For the fourth consecutive summer a Yellow-breasted Chat occurred at MN’s Cedar Rock SNA, Redwood Co 18–25 Jun (m. ob.).

Worm-eating Warblers resided through June and early July at MI’s Allegan SGA, Allegan Co and WI had one for a single day at the historical summering location of Baxter’s Hollow, Sauk Co 29 Jun (Margie Amato). Rare-regular in the region, Kentucky Warblers were documented from three counties in WI and one from MI. Kirtland’s Warblers maintained their numbers in MI and were recorded breeding outside of their core range in Crawford and Roscommon counties. In WI they were reported from Adams and Marinette counties with successful breeding in Adams with nine individuals on 4 Jun. Yellow-throated Warbler, rare but regular in WI, was reported from four WI counties while in MN, where they are casual, one was discovered at Park Point, Duluth, St. Louis Co 2 Jun (Addie and Tate Putman, m. ob.) and another showed near Reno, Houston Co 2–18 Jun (m. ob.) where they have occurred in the summer since 2018. Rare-regular in WI, four single Prairie Warblers were reported in June matching the previous high count from 1997. Lastly, Blue Grosbeaks resided at WI’s Spirit Lake, Ozaukee Co for the fourth consecutive summer, at Spring Green Preserve, Sauk Co for the seventh consecutive summer and one was sighted in Waukesha Co on 2 Jul. In MI, likely range expanding Blue Grosbeak pairs were found in the southern part of the state but to-date no breeding evidence has been recorded.

Report processed by Andrew Keaveney, 09 Nov 2022.

Photos–Western Great Lakes: Summer 2022

A 2022 Fourth of July holiday treat, the U.S. and Michigan’s first Common Redshank was found for one day at Pte. Mouillee State Game Area. Photo © Justin Labadie.

Michigan’s Common Redshank showing a different pose. Note that the second U.S. record occurred a few days later on July 21 2022 in Massachusetts. Photo © Justin Labadie.

Wisconsin’s first state record of Cassin’s Kingbird was found on June 5, here photographed on the same day, and stayed to June 6 2022 in Marathon Co. Photo © Dan Belter.

Wisconsin joined the list of states visited by wandering Limpkin’s with its first seen July 21–24 2022, here photographed on the 23rd. Photo © Sarah Sabatke.

A blurry photo should suffice to confirm Minnesota’s first Broad-billed Hummingbird. It appeared at a residential feeder in Elk River, Sherburne Co for one day only, July 23 2022. Photo © Jerisa Grulke.

Minnesota’s third Acorn Woodpecker arrived in time for the Independence Day holiday. Its stay of July 3–5 2022 at a residence in Carlton Co provided hundreds with the opportunity for viewing. Here it is photographed on July 4 2022. The previous two records were brief sightings by only one individual. Photo © Brad Abendroth.

A confiding Black-throated Sparrow visited a residence in Marshall, Minnesota from 2–5 June 2022 here photographed on the 5th. This is the Gopher state’s eight record. Photo © Roger Schroeder.

When Least Terns show up in Minnesota, they usually do so in June. This one appeared on schedule June 12–13 2022 at the Woodstock WMA in Lyon Co. It was photographed on the first of its two day stay. Photo © Kimberly Emerson.

This Black-headed Gull appeared on Jun 12 2022 and was photographed the same date at Sheboygan, Wisconsin and lingered to the 15th. Photo © Alex Mann.

Michigan’s third Broad-billed Hummingbird spent June 15–16 2022 at a residential feeder in Alger Co. Here it is photographed on the 16th. Photo © Caleb Putnam.

Michigan’s third Royal Tern spent one day in the extreme southwest part of the state in Berrien Co on June 9 2022. Photo © Caleb Putnam

One of the six Wisconsin sightings of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, these were found for one day only at Port Washington, Ozaukee Co on June 21 2022. Photo © Bill Grossmeyer.

Most of 14 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks found in this group can be seen in this photo taken on June 1 2022 in Ashland Co, Wisconsin. They lingered until the 2nd. Photo © Ryan Brady.

Michigan’s contribution to the Black-bellied Whistling Ducks spread across the Western Great Lakes region came from Washtenaw Co on 6 June 2022. Photo © Isaac Polanski.