Kirtland's Warbler

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image: kirtlands.jpg

Common Name: Kirtland's Warbler
Scientific Name: Dendroica kirtlandii

Size: 6 inches (14-15 cm)

Habitat: North America. Summer Range: Breeds only in northern part of lower peninsula of Michigan. Winter Range: Winters in Bahama Islands.

Status: Near Threatened. Global Population: 2,500 mature individuals. Lack of suitable breeding habitat has been a major threat to Kirtland's Warblers. They rely upon dense, young jack pine habitat; for when the trees reach seven meters, the birds no longer use them. Brown-headed Cowbirds have also been a serious threat to Kirtland's Warbler. Prior to current control measures, more than half the nests were being parasitized. Habitat fragmentation, recreational cabins, and predators including domestic cats are also threats. Populations appear to be increasing due to conservation programs.

Diet: Insects and small fruits.

Nesting: Nests are well hidden under pines in dense ground cover. Cups are made of grasses and roots and lined with grass, moss, and hair. 3 to 6 buff colored eggs are laid. They nest from May through June and sometimes double-brood, though survival rates for double-brooded young is low. The female Kirtland's Warbler is more selective than the male in her choice of habitat, and the best areas attract more females than males. The last residents of a tract that is getting too old are always unmated males.

Cool Facts: Apart from the Bachman's Warbler, which is probably extinct, the Kirtland's Warbler is the rarest warbler in North America. In the breeding season, these birds are limited to the jack pine forest habitat of north-central Michigan. This bird may well have gone extinct if it had not been for intensive habitat management and cowbird control measures. Land management measures, such as controlled burns, have been taken to ensure as much breeding habitat as possible. Cowbird trapping has reduced parasitism rates from 70 percent to three percent, tripling the rate of warbler reproductive success.

The Kirtland's Warbler requires areas with small jack pines for nesting. The jack pine requires fire to open its cones and spread its seeds. The warbler first appears in an area about six years after a fire when the new growth is dense and is about 1.5 to 2.0 meters high. After about 15 years, when the trees are 3.0 to 5.0 meters high, the warbler leaves the area.

Found in Songbird ReMix Threatened Endangered Extinct 2

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