Document Type

Conference Paper in Published Proceedings



Publication Date



In October 2005, a vagrant kingbird (Aves: Tyrannus sp.) appeared in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, nearly 2000 km from the northern limit of its usual range. Using mitochondrial DNA obtained from a fecal sample deposited by the bird and mitochondrial DNA isolated from museum reference specimens, the species iden- tity of this bird was definitively confirmed as a Tropical Kingbird (T. melancholicus) rather than a Couch’s Kingbird (T. couchii). This is the first time DNA evidence has been used to establish a state bird record, and one of the few studies of any type to successfully use avian feces for DNA analysis. Circumstantial evidence indicates that this bird was possibly displaced from its original range by Hurricane Wilma in October, 2005. Identification of vagrant birds is important for studying avian populations, and non-invasive genetic sampling techniques should be considered when traditional means of identification fail to provide definitive evidence of identity.