Friday, September 1, 2023

Michigan's Threatened and Endangered bird species


There has been a revision of the threatened and endangered species list for the state of Michigan. Many of the changes in the lists below were first formulated in 2015, but the state legislature did not act on them. They were revisited in 2019 but the finalization was delayed by covid. I co-chaired the committee in 2015, and chaired it in 2019.

To determine changes or additions in the threatened and endangered species, a techinical committee reviews available data from multiple sources, and applies criterion that utilize those data in close association with the state conservation status rankings. This is the system used by NatureServe and its member Natural Heritage programs, in our case the Michigan Natural Features Inventory. The legislation underpinning endangered species protection in Michigan can be viewed here, and the state's public comment period announcement that briefly outlines the entire process is here.

Generally, the list reflects elevations or new listings of species whose populations or state ranks have deteriorated in recent years, or downlistings of species whose populations or state ranks have improved. Some adjustments have also been made to rare species that are at the edge of their breeding ranges in Michigan, but have healthy populations elsewhere. This represented a change in how we looked at species, but the criteria are now more standardized, objective, and hopefully favor a more proactive rather than reactive approach. I'd have to say there are a few changes I'd propose to this list today based on additional data or new knowledge coming to light just in the last few years. 

The revised bird list as of 2023 is below, with changes noted. For a complete list of all of Michigan's Threatened and Endangered Species, including plants, click here.

King Rail
Piping Plover
Long-eared Owl - elevated from threatened
Short-eared Owl
Barn Owl
Loggerhead Shrike (migrant subspecies)
Henslow’s Sparrow

Spruce Grouse - elevated from special concern
Eastern Whip-poor-will - elevated from special concern
Yellow Rail
Common Gallinule
Upland Sandpiper - new
Caspian Tern
Black Tern - elevated from special concern
Common Tern
Forster’s Tern
Common Loon
Least Bittern
Northern Goshawk - elevated from special concern
Peregrine Falcon - downlisted from endangered
Evening Grosbeak
Louisiana Waterthrush
Kirtland's Warbler - downlisted from endangered
Golden-winged Warbler - elevated from special concern
Cerulean Warbler

Special Concern (no legal protection)
Trumpeter Swan - downlisted from threatened
Northern Bobwhite - new
Sharp-tailed Grouse
Common Nighthawk
Wilson’s Phalarope
American Bittern
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Northern Harrier
Bald Eagle
Red-shouldered Hawk - downlisted from threatened
Red-headed Woodpecker
Black-backed Woodpecker
Merlin - downlisted from threatened
Boreal Chickadee - new
Sedge Wren - new
Marsh Wren
Wood Thrush - new
Grasshopper Sparrow
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark - new
Prothonotary Warbler
Connecticut Warbler - new
Hooded Warbler
Prairie Warbler - downlisted from endangered

Species removed from lists
Osprey - was special concern (populations improved)
Western Meadowlark - was special concern (edge of range)
Yellow-throated Warbler - was threatened (edge of range)

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Ferruginous Hawk: A new Dearborn bird?

The Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis) is large hawk of the western prairies and grasslands. There are a number of records for Michigan in both spring and fall seasons, including one in Wayne County in November 1991.

On 3 May 2023, a vagrant female Ferruginous Hawks was found in a weakened state near Erieau, Ontario (west of Rondeau Provincial Park). It was released on 20 May near Wyoming, Ontario (just east of Sarnia) wearing a GPS tag. There are details available at this Bird Studies Canada web page.

This hawk wandered around southwest Ontario for over a week before crossing the Detroit River into Wayne County, Michigan near the mouth of the Rouge River on 30 May, according to a map that shows her travels. The map shows straight lines between data points, so her plotted route is probably not entirely accurate, but the data points show she flew over Dearborn. In fact, if we want to take this at face value, she flew over my former neighborhood and close to the northern part of the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

Apparently, although there were no reported observations, there is a new species on the Dearborn checklist.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

20 years of European Goldfinches = 1 big paper


Craves, J.A., and N.M. Anich. 2023. ­­­Status and distribution of an introduced population of European Goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis) in the western Great Lakes region of North America. Neobiota 81:129-155. doi: 10.3897/neobiota.81.97736

This paper is open access, so you can read it online or download the PDF by clicking the title above. (The figures look better in the PDF.)


The backstory is on this page.

Monday, September 12, 2022

American Ornithological Society honor

A little belatedly, I'm happy to report that this summer I was voted in as an Elective Member of the American Ornithological Society (created by a merger of the American Ornithologists' Union and Cooper Orinthological Society).

Elective Members are one of the special membership categories that recognize one's significant contributions to ornithology and to the AOS, and are nominated and voted on by three Fellows or Elective Members. There have been just over 600 Elective Members since this category was first created around 1964. I'm in some excellent company! It's gratifying to have my work acknowledged in this way by the world’s largest international ornithological society.

Friday, August 5, 2022

European Goldfinch paper: preprint available

Update: This paper has been published! It's open access so you can read online or download the PDF; click on title below -

Craves, J.A., and N.M. Anich. 2023. ­­­Status and distribution of an introduced population of European Goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis) in the western Great Lakes region of North America. Neobiota 81:129-155. doi: 10.3897/neobiota.81.97736


At long last, the paper on the population of European Goldfinches in the western Great Lakes region is complete, and has been submitted to the journal NeoBiota. In the paper, my collaborator Nick Anich of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and I covered a brief history of the times and places where this species has been introduced around the world, and their distribution in North America over the past 20 years. Focusing on the western Great Lakes region, we describe where they are successfully nesting, where they may have come from (both countries of origin and domestic importers), and some additional information on nesting ecology, natural foods, potential impacts, and suggestions for future monitoring.

The manuscript still has to go through peer-review, but the preprint is available at the publisher's website. Here is the abstract:

Monitoring introduced species is important because of possible effects on native species and ecosystems. Here, we report on European Goldfinch observations from North America between 2001–2021, focusing on a population in the western Great Lakes region. We compiled over 7000 records of European Goldfinches from multiple sources for this time period. Over 3300 records were from the western Great Lakes region. We believe the primary founding event of this population to be release or escape from a cage bird importer in northern Illinois.  European Goldfinches were initially reported widely in the region, but over time birds were most consistently reported between Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Chicago, Illinois. They have been breeding in this area continuously since 2003, are currently present in numbers that have established them as part of the local avifauna, and show evidence of a recent increase in numbers.  More study is needed on this population of European Goldfinches, including their ecology, their potentially increasing range and population, and an evaluation of the potential for impacts on native ecosystems.

Craves J, Anich N (2022) ­­­Status and distribution of an introduced population of European Goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis) in the western Great Lakes region of North America. ARPHA Preprints.

We acknowledge the many people who contributed or reported observations of European Goldfinches over the years -- thank you!