Karl Overman: Birds and More


When you look at a range map of the breeding range of Henslow’s Sparrow, Michigan is a good-sized chunk of that breeding range.  Alas, it is difficult to find breeding Henslow’s Sparrows even in Michigan.  That said, I suspect in recent years their numbers have been increasing somewhat in southern Michigan.

I have never been a fan of The Birds of Michigan (1994).  It is very uneven in quality of the species accounts.  Some sections, like Phil Chu on shorebirds and gulls are first rate.  Others are, well, wanting in scholarship.  In the Henslow’s Sparrow account,  Id. at 307,  the latest  Henslow’s Sparrow record  given for Michigan is a sight record on November 10, 1979 “in the Detroit area”.  Well by whom?  Where?  What county?  Given the virtual lack of fall records of this species in the Great Lakes area,  a sight record of this species that late is useless without at least knowing the skill of the observer.  Moreover, it was not the latest state record at the time of the publishing of Birds of Michigan.  I had one on November 24, 1963 in Mundy twp., Genesee County.   It is specimen #159326  in the UMMZ collection and I would have thought that it would be a  prerequisite for anyone writing a species account for a definitive work on the birds of Michigan to review the specimens in that critical collection of Michigan birds.

As for the photos below, the Pelee bird is a migrant.  It is a very rare breeder in Ontario.

The Ohio bird was in a favored habitat for the species  in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania---reclaimed coal strip mines.

Henslow's Sparrow (Centronyx henslowii)

modified March 10, 2022