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Kirtland's Warbler numbers at comfortable high


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From the Birding Community E-bulletin, November 2013:

 

The numbers from the last breeding season are officially in, and Kirtland's Warblers remain near an all-time high.

The Kirtland's Warbler survey is annually conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Michigan DNR, Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Michigan Audubon Society, and numerous citizen volunteers. Kirtland's Warblers nest on the ground in central Michigan, and they typically select nesting sites in stands of jack pine between four and 20 years old.. Surveyors seek out singing males on territory.

Biologists, researchers and volunteers observed 2,004 singing males in Michigan during the official 2013 nesting survey period. An additional 21 singing males were found outside Michigan, in Wisconsin (18) and in Ontario (3).

In 2012, there were 2,063 singing males counted in Michigan. These numbers are in stark contrast to those of 1974 and 1987, when only 167 singing males were found - the lowest survey numbers ever recorded.

The current revival has been so impressive that removing the species from the federal Endangered Species list is a possibility, perhaps some time in the near future. 

"Two thousand pairs of birds is still a pretty low number," warned Philip Huber, a U.S. Forest Service biologist working on the project. Because Kirtland's Warblers are so uniquely adapted to a sandy-soil jack-pine habitat, they now depend heavily on human intervention for survival (e.g., cowbird removal, pine-plantings, and fire-management).

"Our success is allowing managers to work with additional partners to transition from a mode of recovery to one of long-term sustainability," said Dan Kennedy, Michigan's DNR endangered species coordinator.

For more information about this rare bird, visit the Michigan DNR's Kirtland's Warbler web page: www.michigan.gov/dnr/1,1607,7-153-10370_12145_12202-32591--C1,00.html

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