About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
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This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Michigan's Kirtland's warbler reached record-high numbers in 2012

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) released recently Michigan's annual survey information indicating the population of Kirtland's warbler, a federally endangered bird, has reached an all-time high. "We are witnessing a conservation success story," said DNR endangered species coordinator Dan Kennedy.

A male Kirtland's Warbler from Wikipedia
Biologists, researchers and volunteers in Michigan observed 2,063 singing males during the official 2012 survey period - 1,805 males were observed in 2011. This represents the largest single-year increase since 2007. The lowest numbers were recorded in 1974 and 1987, when only 167 singing males were found.

The endangered Kirtland's warbler is one of the rarest members of the wood warbler (Parulidae) family. It nests in just a few counties in Michigan, Wisconsin and the province of Ontario and nowhere else on Earth. The male Kirtland's warblers' summer plumage is composed of a distinctive bright yellow colored breast streaked in black and bluish gray back feathers, a dark mask over its face with white eye rings, and bobbing tail. The female's plumage coloration is less bright; her facial area is devoid of a mask. Overall length of the bird is less than six inches.

Kirtland's warblers typically nest on the ground in stands of jack pine between 4 and 20 years old. Historically, these stands of young jack pine were created by natural wildfires that frequently swept through northern Michigan. Modern fire suppression programs altered this natural process, reducing Kirtland's warbler habitat. As a result, the population of Kirtland's warblers declined to the point that they were listed as endangered.

To mimic the effects of wildfire and ensure the future of this species, the DNR, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manage the forests through a combination of timber harvests, burning, seeding and replanting to promote habitat for the Kirtland’s Warbler and many other species, including snowshoe hare, white-tailed deer, other songbird species and rare plants. This use of public lands also creates jobs, as well as brings birders and hunters from across the state and around the world to northern Michigan.

The winter range of the Kirtland's warbler is in the Bahamas and in the Turks, Caicos, and Hispaniola islands. For more information on the Kirtland’s Warbler go to http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Kirtlands_Warbler/id.  

1 comment:

troutbirder said...

Wonderful news indeed!