Kirtland's Warbler Initiative
The Kirtland's warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii) has been a resident of the federal Endangered Species List since the inception of the Act in 1973. Since that time, funding has been allocated for the intensive habitat management necessary to prevent the species from going extinct.
Kirtland’s warbler, a ground nesting species, specifically seeks out the dense jack pine found in Northeast Lower and Upper Peninsulas of Michigan that range from 5 to 20 years in age – an age class that was historically maintained by wildfire. With settlement and human populations now sharing the landscape used by the warbler, natural wildfire is suppressed leaving humans to manipulate the jack pine ecosystem to mimic natural processes. In addition, management to reduce the impact of nest predation by the brown-headed cowbirds is critical in species management.
The work is paying off. Once at a low of 167 singing males in 1987, the numbers now top 2,000 – an indication that the population is strong enough to consider delisting from the Endangered Species List.
The Kirtland’s Warbler Initiative will strive to build the support network necessary to make delisting possible and ensure that the warbler continues to thrive into the future - the ultimate conservation goal. The program was launched through a generous grant by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
- Build a stakeholder group to develop the framework for successful Kirtland’s warbler and jack pine forest management beyond delisting
- Raise significant funds to ensure that habitat management and identified threats such as brown-headed cowbird nest predation continue after delisting
- Develop a comprehensive education and outreach program to build local, state, and national support for the Kirtland’s warbler and its incredible conservation story as well as the jack pine ecosystem upon which it depends
- Work with landowners to expand the multi-species benefits of jack pine forest management on private lands extending both the jack pine and Kirtland’s warbler range to more closely match historical land cover
Kirtland’s Warbler Coordinator
Photo credit (below): Phil Huber, U.S. Forest Service