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Overview

Brief Summary

Setophaga kirtlandii

A large (6 inches) wood warbler, Kirtland’s Warbler is most easily identified by its slate-gray upperparts, streaked back and flanks, and bright yellow underparts. The similarly-patterned Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis) is also gray above and yellow below, but is only streaked on the upper breast and throat. Male and female Kirtland’s Warblers are similar in all seasons. Kirtland’s Warbler is by far the rarest extant wood warbler in North America. This species breeds in a small portion of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, occurring locally even within that range. Kirtland’s Warbler is rarely seen outside the breeding season, although occasional reports indicate that it migrates south through the eastern United States and spends the winter in the Bahamas. More habitat-specific than most other wood warblers, Kirtland’s Warblers breed exclusively in young Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana) forests in areas with sandy soil. This species’ habit of building its nest on the ground is also unusual for wood warblers. In winter, this species has only ever been recorded in the undergrowth of Bahaman pine forests. Kirtland’s Warblers primarily eat small invertebrates, including insects and spiders, and may also eat fruits and berries in winter. In appropriate habitat, Kirtland’s Warblers may be observed foraging for food on the ground or low in the tree canopy. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a warbled series of notes lower in pitch than that of most other wood warblers. Kirtland’s Warblers are primarily active during the day in the breeding season, but this species’ scarcity has complicated studies of its behavior at other times of the year.

Threat Status: Near Threatened

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Biology

Arriving first at the breeding site, the males return to their usual nest site and begin to sing immediately, defending their territory. Later, the females arrive to mate, selecting a male for the season based on his singing voice. The nest is constructed on the ground between young jack pines in late May, in time for egg-laying between late May and mid June. From three to six eggs are incubated by the female for 14 days, during which time the male brings food to his partner. After hatching, both parents tend to the chicks, each tending to only half the brood, which disperse just 9 or 10 days later (4). Kirtland's warbler feeds mainly on flying insects, although it also consumes pine needles, grasses and blueberries (4).
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Description

This large warbler has a bright yellow breast and underside with black streaking on the sides. The male has a blue-grey back and the female is similar but paler, with a browner back. The black eye is encircled by a white ring that is broken to the left and right by black. The pointed beak is black, as are the legs. Juveniles are pale yellow and brown, but streaked with grey, with spots of grey on the throat. This species calls with a persistent 'chip-chip-che-way-o' (2).
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Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

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Global Range: (5000-20,000 square km (about 2000-8000 square miles)) Until 1995, the breeding range was nearly confined to the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan, with relatively few nesting or summer records in Minnesota, Wisconsin, southern Ontario, and Quebec. Michigan's Lower Peninsula is still the primary nesting range, but as of 2012 the known nesting range also included much smaller areas in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin, and Ontario, Canada (Canadian Forces Base Petawawa).

In winter, the species occurs primarily in the Bahama Islands, including Grand Bahama, Abaco, Berry Islands, Andros, New Providence, Eleuthera, Cat Island, San Salvador, Green Cay, and others, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, with reports of solitary individuals in Mexico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Bermuda (Faanes and Haney 1989, Brewer et al. 1991, Mayfield 1996, USFWS 2012).

Migration sightings have been made in many eastern states and indicate roughly direct route between Michigan and the Bahamas (Mayfield 1992, 1996), including areas on the southeastern coast of the United States.

Coded range extent includes only the main nesting range in Michigan's Lower Peninsula. The outlying nesting areas in Wisconsin and Ontario, though certainly significant, are quite small and of uncertain long-term viability; if included they would result an inappropriately inflated estimate of the range extent.

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Range Description

Almost the entire population of Dendroica kirtlandii breeds in north and central Michigan (Anon. 2008), with small numbers (and occasional breeding) in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin, U.S.A. Breeding was also recorded in Canada in 2007 for the first time since 1945 (Eskelsen 2007). Breeding habitat has declined by 33% since the 1960s, but is more extensive than the 18 km2 occupied in 1994 (Nelson and Buech 1996). It has a very small winter range in the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands (to U.K.), either concentrated in the northern islands or spread throughout the Bahama Archipelago (Haney et al. 1998, Sykes and Clench 1998). There were major declines in c.1900-1920 and 1961-1971 (Haney et al. 1998), with the population numbering just 167 singing males in 1974 and 1987 (Anon. 1996). Numbers have recovered to 1,697 singing males in Michigan in 2007 (Line 2008), the highest since surveys began in 1951 (http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153--72725--,00.html, National Wildlife Refuge Association in litt. 2006).
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Geographic Range

The Kirtland's warbler spends part of the year in northern central Michigan. The area it lives in is about 100 miles long and 60 miles wide. It migrates south and spends the winter in the Bahamas.

A bird that spends the breeding season in North America and winters in the tropics is called a neotropical migrant. Does the Kirtland's warbler fit that definition?

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); neotropical (Native )

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Range

Jack-pine area of Michigan; winters in Bahamas.

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More info for the term: natural

The core of the Kirtland's warbler's breeding range is in the northern portion of Lower Michigan from Presque Isle County south to Clare County [3,81] and west to Wexford County [3]. The expansion of the breeding range into upper Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ontario began in the late 1990s [93]. In Upper Michigan, 95 male Kirtland's warblers were observed in 8 locations from 1994 to 2000 compared to only 3 observations of male Kirtland's warblers on 2 sites from 1978 to 1993. Breeding was documented in upper Michigan from 1995 to 2000 [93] and, according to a Michigan Department of Natural Resources press release [69], likely occurred in 2008. Kirtland's warblers were observed in Wisconsin during the breeding seasons of the late 1970s, 1980, and 1988 [45]. Breeding in Wisconsin was first documented in Adams County, Wisconsin, in 2007 [123] and 2008 [40,123]. In 2009, breeding was observed in both Adams and Marinette counties in Wisconsin [124]. Breeding was also documented in Renfrew County, Ontario, in 2007 [27] and in an unnamed location in Ontario in 2008 [69]. Information on nesting and occurrence of Kirtland's warbler in Ontario in 2009 and Upper Michigan from 2001 to 2007 and in 2009 was not available in late 2009, although Kirk and others [27] suggest that Kirtland's warblers were breeding in upper Michigan from 1995 through 2007.

Kirtland's warblers winter throughout The Bahamas from Grand Bahama [43], Abaco [1], and Eleuthera islands [28] in the north to Crooked [101], Great Inagua [3], and Caicos islands [1] in the south. NatureServe provides a map of Kirtland's warbler's distribution in North America.

  • 3. American Ornithologists' Union. 1957. Checklist of North American birds. 5th ed. Baltimore, MD: The Lord Baltimore Press, Inc. 691 p. [21235]
  • 1. Aird, Paul. 1989. The dispersal of the Kirtland's warbler: myths and reality. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 32-37. [19204]
  • 28. Currie, Dave; Wunderle, Joe; Ewert, Dave; Carey, Eric. 2003. The most elusive bird in the Bahamas? Getting to grips with wintering Kirtland's warblers. World Birdwatch. 25(4): 13-15. [75675]
  • 40. Grveles, Kim. 2009. The first annual census of the Kirtland's warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii) in Wisconsin. The Passenger Pigeon. 71(2): 123-130. [75683]
  • 43. Haney, J. Christopher; Lee, David S.; Walsh-McGehee, Martha. 1998. A quantitative analysis of winter distribution and habitats of Kirtland's warblers in the Bahamas. The Condor. 100(2): 201-217. [75862]
  • 45. Hoffman, Randy. 1989. History of Kirtland's warbler found in Wisconsin. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 29-31. [19205]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 93. Probst, John R.; Donner, Deahn M.; Bocetti, Carol I.; Sjogren, Steve. 2003. Population increase in Kirtland's warbler and summer range expansion to Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, USA. Oryx. 37(3): 365-373. [75722]
  • 101. Radabaugh, Bruce E. 1974. Kirtland's warbler and its Bahama wintering grounds. The Wilson Bulletin. 86(4): 374-383. [75724]
  • 123. Trick, Joel A.; Grveles, Kim; Goyette, Jennifer L. 2009. The 2008 nesting season: first documented successful nesting of Kirtland's warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii) in Wisconsin. The Passenger Pigeon. 71(2): 100-114. [75750]
  • 27. Committe on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. 2008. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Kirtland's warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii), in Canada--Endangered 2008, [Online]. In: Species at risk public registry--COSEWIC status reports. Ottawa: Environment Canada, Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (Producer). Available: http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/virtual_sara/files/cosewic/sr%5Fkirtland%5Fwarbler%5F0808%5Fe%2Epdf [2010, January 4]. [75949]
  • 69. MacKinnon, Sherry. 2008. Michigan's 2008 Kirtland's warbler population reaches another record high, [Online]. In: Press Releases--September 29, 2008. Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of Natural Resources (Producer). Available: http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10371_10402-200899--,00.html [2009, November 11]. [76984]
  • 124. Trick, Joel; Grveles, Kim. 2009. Wisconsin Kirtland's warbler updates: Wisconsin Kirtland's warbler 2009 season summary, [Online]. In: Endangered species in the Upper Midwest--Green Bay Ecological Services Office. Green Bay, WI: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wisconsin Ecological Services Office, Midwest Region (Producer). Available: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/GreenBay/kiwa/2009Summary.html [2009, October 23]. [76738]

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Geographic Range

The Kirland's Warbler breeds in northern central Michigan, in an area that is about 100 miles long and 60 miles wide. It is also a neotropical migrant, spending the winter in the Bahamas.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); neotropical (Native )

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Historic Range:
U.S.A. (principally MI), Canada, West Indies_Bahama Islands

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Range

Kirtland's warbler breeds mainly in north and central Michigan, but singing males have also been recorded in Ontario and Quebec, Canada. They spend the winter in a small area of the Bahamas, as well as on the Turks and Caicos Islands (2).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Average mass: 15.5 g.

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Physical Description

Average mass: 15.5 g.

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Size

Length: 15 cm

Weight: 14 grams

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Diagnostic Description

In fall and winter, in dorsal view, resembles yellow-rumped warbler but lacks yellow rump.

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Type Information

Type for Dendroica kirtlandii
Catalog Number: USNM A4363
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Birds
Sex/Stage: Male; Subadult
Preparation: Skin: Whole
Collector(s): C. Pease
Year Collected: 1851
Locality: Cleveland, Near, Cuyahoga, Ohio, United States, North America
  • Type: Baird. (Not Earlier Than June) 1852. Ann. Lyc. Nat. Hist. New York. 5: 217, pl. 6.
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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Nesting habitat consists of nearly homogeneous fire-generated stands of usually 30 hectares or more of dense scrubby jack pine, 1.3-6 meters high (6-22 years old) (also reported as 2-4 meters tall and 8-20 years old) interspersed with many small openings, minimal ground cover, and little or no hardwoods, typically in areas of Grayling sand soils and level or gently rolling topography (Mayfield 1960, 1992; Walkinshaw 1983). Habitat tends to be suitable only for periods of about 10-15 years. When trees reach 3.5 meters or more in height, with no live needles present below about 1.0 meters, habitat becomes increasingly unfavorable and populations decline (Brewer et al. 1991). Habitat tracts of less than 30 hectares are sledom used for nesting (Mayfield 1993). Nests are on the ground, well concealed under arching plants near the bases of pines. In winter, Kirtland's warbler occurs mainly in low broadleaf scrub, including transient early successional habitats dominated by Lantana, generally in habitat patches of 2-3 hectares or larger (Miller and Conroy 1990, Mayfield 1996).

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Its optimal breeding habitat is fire-maintained homogeneous stands of 1-5 m tall jack pines Pinus banksiana on sandy soil (Mayfield 1992, Sykes 1997, Anon. 2008). Eggs are laid in May and June (Curson et al. 1994). It winters in early-successional disturbed habitat (Wunderle et al. 2010), either stands of Caribbean pine P. caribbaea (Haney et al. 1998), or natural and secondary scrub, and saline/upland ecotone (Sykes and Clench 1998). It feeds on arthropods and abundant fruit during this time (Wunderle et al. 2010). Birds move from patch to patch in the wintering grounds as food supplies are depleted and areas dry out, eventually concentrating in small patches where they maintain small and overlapping home ranges (Wunderle et al. 2006).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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The Kirtland's warbler nests in groves of young Jack pines (Pinus banksiana). They prefer trees that range in height from 5 to 18 feet. They also seek out areas with ground cover composed of blueberries, bearberry, or sweetfern. These warblers also require a very specific soil type, the Grayling Sands. They nest on the ground, and their nests would be flooded if rain water did not drain away quickly. The Grayling Sands drain quickly enough for the birds to nest there. But the Grayling Sands are only found in certain places. That is why nearly 90% of these birds breed in the drainage area of a single stream.

Their winter habitat in the the Bahamas consists of low scrub. During the night they retreat to higher shrubs to roost.

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest

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Differences in habitat characteristics

More info for the terms: cover, density, frequency, lichen, litter, relative frequency, snag, tree, wildfire

Stand-level features of Kirtland's warbler breeding habitat vary with stand origin. In young (3-6 years old) and older (12-17 years old) jack pine stands, stem densities, patchiness, and snag density were less in plantations that were probably not burned under prescription than in wildfire habitat. In young plantations, jack pine stem density averaged 2,300 stems/ha compared to 11,000 stems/ha in stands regenerated following wildfire. Snags were significantly (P=0.002) less dense in plantation habitat than in wildfire habitat. Snag density averaged 3 snags/ha in young plantations and 83 snags/ha in older plantations compared to 252 snags/ha in young wildfire habitat and 156 snags/ha in older wildfire habitat [113]. A study from the early 1990s reported similar results. Jack pine density was significantly (P=0.001) less in plantations than wildfire habitat, and there were marginally (P=0.075) fewer openings in plantations than wildfire habitat. Jack pine cover category (P=0.002) and relative frequency (P=0.006) were significantly lower in plantations compared to wildfire habitat [13]. Jack pine density was greater on sites burned by the Mack Lake Fire than plantations that were burned under prescription and then planted after a 1- or 3-year delay [46]. Mayfield [81] noted lower occurrence of fire-killed snags and cavity-nesting birds in plantations than wildfire areas.

Ground cover characteristics important to Kirtland's warblers also vary with stand origin (see Breeding habitat). In young (3-6 years old) and older (12-17 years old) jack pine stands, coarse woody debris and forest floor mass were less in plantations that were probably not burned under prescription than in wildfire habitat. Coarse woody debris volume averaged 12 m³/ha in young plantation habitat, significantly (P=0.002) less than the 49 m³/ha average volume in young wildfire habitat. Volume of coarse woody debris increased with age of plantation habitat and declined with age of wildfire habitat [113]. Based on data from the early 1990s, coarse woody debris cover category was significantly (P<0.001) lower in plantations than wildfire habitat. Kinnikinnick cover category (P=0.006) and relative frequency (P=0.002) were significantly lower in plantations compared to wildfire habitat. In contrast, yellow sedge (Carex pensylvanica) cover category was significantly (P<0.001) higher in plantations than in wildfire habitat [13]. Coverage of low sweet blueberry was greater (P<0.003) on sites that were burned and planted with jack pine 3 years later than on unburned plots with either 1- or 3-year planting delays [46]. Based on data collected from 1977 to 1986, burned sites, including one site burned under prescription, had significantly (P<0.005) less cover of bare ground and/or litter, "coarse grass" (which included bluegrasses and brome grass (Brome sp.)), and "sedge/grass" (which included yellow sedge, oatgrasses, wavy hairgrass (Deschampsia flexuosa), prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha), and ricegrass (Oryzopsis sp.)) than 3 unburned plantations and 2 naturally regenerated unburned areas. These burned areas had significantly (P<0.001) more cover of lichen and/or moss, dead wood, and sweetfern than the unburned areas. However, use of habitats with a wide range of ground cover characteristics suggested that Kirtland's warblers were not selecting habitats with specific ground cover composition [95]. The naturally regenerated areas may have provided low-quality habitat [99]. Within Kirtland's warbler habitat site differences influence the response of vegetation to fire. For instance, tree coverage before the Mack Lake Fire was positively associated with postfire coverage of both kinnikinnick (P=0.01) and sweetfern (P<0.01) [95].

  • 13. Bocetti, Carol I. 1994. Density, demography, and mating success of Kirtland's warblers in managed and natural habitats. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University. 140 p. Dissertation. [76482]
  • 46. Houseman, Gregory R.; Anderson, Roger C. 2002. Effects of jack pine plantation management on barrens flora and potential Kirtland's warbler nest habitat. Restoration Ecology. 10(1): 27-36. [75691]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 95. Probst, John R.; Donnerwright, Deahn. 2003. Fire and shade effects on ground cover structure in Kirtland's warbler habitat. The American Midland Naturalist. 149(2): 320-334. [43954]
  • 99. Probst, John R.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1993. Relating Kirtland's warbler population to changing landscape composition and structure. Landscape Ecology. 8(4): 257-271. [23629]
  • 113. Spaulding, Susan E.; Rothstein, David E. 2009. How well does Kirtland's warbler management emulate the effects of natural disturbance on stand structure in Michigan jack pine forests? Forest Ecology and Management. 258(11): 2609-2618. [76565]

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Fire-dependant nature of Kirtland's warbler habitat

More info for the terms: cover, fire exclusion, fire severity, fuel, interference, natural, serotinous, severity, stand-replacement fire

Fire-dependant nature of Kirtland's warbler habitat: Kirtland's warblers occupy extensive stands of young to intermediate-aged jack pine forests (see Jack pine age/size). Under natural conditions, these stands result from stand-replacement wildfires [81,128]. Although a review notes that jack pine may establish without fire [130], fires of the appropriate severity open jack pine's serotinous cones and release numerous seeds simultaneously [23,81,135] into an environment with optimal conditions for germination [23,135] and growth [23,81,135], including exposed mineral soil [23] and reduced interference from other plant species [23,81]. In the laboratory, seeds in jack pine cones retained viability following exposure to temperatures of 900 °F (480 °C) for 30 seconds and 700 °F (370 °C) for 1 to 2 minutes, and exposed jack pine seeds were viable after exposure to 700 °F for 10 to 15 seconds [8]. See the FEIS review of jack pine for more details. According to the 1985 recovery plan, nearly all occupied habitat where Kirtland's warblers bred successfully developed following fire [21]. However, stand-replacement fire does not guarantee the development of suitable Kirtland's warbler habitat. Several factors may interfere with the regeneration of jack pine following fire [23], including fire severity, postfire weather [23,130], seed availability, and site characteristics [23].

If fire is excluded, jack pine may convert to red or eastern white pine [127] or to hardwoods [56], which have less flammable fuel beds [86]. Since these cover types are not suitable for Kirtland's warbler, fire exclusion generally leads to loss of habitat and declines in Kirtland's warbler populations [21,128] (see Factors influencing population size). In contrast, fires in mixed red and eastern white pine stands may convert them to jack pine stands [23,128].

  • 8. Beaufait, William R. 1960. Some effects of high temperatures on the cones and seeds of jack pine. Forest Science. 6(3): 194-199. [12407]
  • 23. Cayford, J. H. 1971. The role of fire in the ecology and silviculture of jack pine. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1970 August 20-21; Fredericton, NB. No. 10. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 221-244. [18941]
  • 56. Keane, Robert E.; Agee, James K.; Fule, Peter; Keeley, Jon E.; Key, Carl; Kitchen, Stanley G.; Miller, Richard; Schulte, Lisa A. 2008. Ecological effects of large fires on US landscapes: benefit or catastrophe? International Journal of Wildland Fire. 17: 696-712. [73387]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 86. Nowacki, Gregory J.; Abrams, Marc D. 2008. The demise of fire and "mesophication" of forests in the eastern United States. BioScience. 58(2): 123-138. [70112]
  • 127. Van Lear, D. H.; Harlow, R. F. 2002. Fire in the eastern United States: influence on wildlife habitat. In: Ford, W. Mark; Russell, Kevin R.; Moorman, Christopher E., eds. The role of fire in nongame wildlife management and community restoration: traditional uses and new directions: Proceedings of a special workshop; 2000 December 15; Nashville, TN. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-288. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station: 2-10. [41533]
  • 128. Van Tyne, J. 1953. Kirtland's warbler. In: Bent, Arthur Cleveland. Life histories of North American wood warblers. United States National Museum: Bulletin 203. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution: 417-428. [75866]
  • 130. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. 1983. Kirtland's warbler: the natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science. 207 p. [19203]
  • 135. Wilson, Ronald L. 1989. Fire and fire effects--its impact on forest vegetation for Kirtland's warbler habitat. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 57-60. [19208]
  • 21. Byelich, John; DeCapita, Michael E.; Irvine, George; Radtke, Robert E.; Johnson, Nels I.; Jones, Wesley, R.; Mayfield, Harold; Mahalak, William J. 1985. Kirtland's warbler...recovery plan. Twin Cities, MN: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 39 p. [+ appendices]. [Prepared by the Kirtland's Warbler Recovery Team]. [77007]

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Ground cover

More info for the terms: cover, density, frequency, lichen, lichens, litter, relative frequency, selection, shrub, shrubs, tree, wildfire

Ground cover: Kirtland's warbler nest sites have short ground cover. Height of vegetation near nesting sites is often less than 12 inches (30 cm) [19,81]. Most vegetation on a breeding site studied in 1976 was from 8 to 12 inches (20-30 cm) tall [19]. Mayfield [81] and Van Tyne [128] described the vegetation around nests as thick or fairly thick. Vegetation is often arched over nests, allowing entrance from only one direction [112,128]. However, ground cover density and nest concealment were not significantly associated with nesting success based on data collected from 1931 to 1975 [5]. Southern [112] suggests that the role of grasses in providing cover and nesting material could limit Kirtland's warbler to areas of jack pine forests with adequate coverage of grasses and sedges. However, in a review, Probst [92] suggests that ground cover required by Kirtland's warbler is readily available and does not limit habitat selection.

Specific groundlayer species do not appear necessary for Kirtland's warbler nest sites [19,95,112], although a combination of grasses, sedges, blueberries and other low shrubs [19,87,95], lichens, mosses, and bare ground [19,95] is common. Mayfield [81] found that bluestem grasses (77%) and/or blueberries (61%) covered the majority of nests. During the 1974 breeding season, low sweet blueberry provided an average of 28% cover over 85.7% of nests [87]. Based on data collected in the early 1990s, low sweet blueberry cover category was significantly (P<0.001) greater on nest sites than random sites [13]. Grasses, predominantly Andropogon spp., provided an average of 26.5% cover over 80.9% of nests, and kinnikinnick provided an average 14% cover over 42.8% of nests observed in 1974. Species that provided less than 10% cover over less than 30% of nests included sand cherry, sweetfern, and wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) [87]. On burned (3 wildfires, 1 prescribed burn) and unburned (3 plantations and 2 naturally regenerated timber harvests) sites from 7 to 23 years old, lichen and moss cover ranged from 3.7% to 39.8%, sedge and grass cover ranged from 2.2% to 11.6%, and bare ground and/or litter cover averaged 5.6%. Blueberry cover ranged from 0.3% to 17.4% and increased with stand age [95]. Birdfoot violet (Viola pedata) had significantly (P=0.004) lower relative frequency and a slightly, but significantly (P=0.004), lower cover category on nest sites than random sites [13].

Amount of coarse woody debris is variable in Kirtland's warbler nesting habitat. Frequency of dead wood in the Muskrat Lake colony was 100%, with coverage ranging from 8.1% to 17.9% [19]. Based on data from the early 1990s, coarse woody debris cover category was slightly but significantly (P=0.007) lower on nest plots than on randomly selected plots. Considering the possibility of higher productivity per male in habitat regenerated following wildfire [13] (see Demography and use) and the greater cover of coarse woody debris in burned areas (see Differences in habitat characteristics), coarse woody debris may provide other benefits to Kirtland's warbler, perhaps related to foraging substrate (see Food Habits).

Wintering habitat: Wintering Kirtland's warblers occupy short, dense, shrubby vegetation, occasionally with a Caribbean pine overstory [22,28,117]. On a Crooked Island site where a Kirtland's warbler was observed, scattered trees reached about 20 feet (6 m) [101]. The height of shrubby vegetation typically ranges from 3 to 10 feet (1-3 m) [22,101,115,117]. Mayfield [73] suggested wintering habitat was comprised of broadleaved scrub less than 15 feet (4.6 m) tall. In a low coppice community occupied by Kirtland's warbler on Eleuthera Island, average tree height was 11 feet (3.3 m). Average shrub height across occupied habitats of Eleuthera and Grand Turk islands ranged from 3.3 to 3.6 feet (1.0-1.1 m). The vegetation stratum with the greatest stem density was ≤12 inches (30 cm). Other structural characteristics of habitats occupied by Kirtland's warbler on these islands are provided in the table below. All occupied habitats occurred on gentle slopes [117]. Elevations of these sites range from near sea level [117] to 3,389 feet (1,033 m) [22]. For information on the only tall coppice site where Kirtland's warbler has been observed, see Currie and others [29]. For details of this record, a general discussion of community types occupied by Kirtland's warblers in winter, and examples of plant species comprising these communities, see Plant Communities.

Habitat characteristics of winter territories occupied by 4 Kirtland's warblers at 3 sites on Eleuthera and Grand Turk islands [117]
Habitat types Tree density
(trees/ha)
Average shrub density
(stems/ha)
Ground cover
(%)
Leaf litter cover
(%)
Bare soil cover
(%)
Low coppice
(n=3 plots)
2,248 31,246 25% 77% 7%
Shrub-scrub
(n=5 plots)
0 8,601 11% 55% 43%
Second growth shrub-scrub
(n=1 plot)
25 54,711 14% 68% 18%
Saline-upland ecotone
(n=5 plots)
0 10,611 45% 19% 77%
  • 5. Anderson, Walter L.; Storer, Robert W. 1976. Factors influencing Kirtland's warbler nesting success. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 54(3): 105-115. [75667]
  • 13. Bocetti, Carol I. 1994. Density, demography, and mating success of Kirtland's warblers in managed and natural habitats. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University. 140 p. Dissertation. [76482]
  • 19. Buech, Richard R. 1980. Vegetation of a Kirtland's warbler breeding area and 10 nest sites. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 58(2): 59-72. [75671]
  • 22. Carey, Eric; Wunderle, Joseph M., Jr.; Ewert, David N. 2004. A research and training program for conservation of wintering Kirtland's warbler and associated species in the Bahamas: the first field season. Journal of Caribbean Ornithology. 17(Special Issue Honoring Nedra Klein): 81-85. [75672]
  • 28. Currie, Dave; Wunderle, Joe; Ewert, Dave; Carey, Eric. 2003. The most elusive bird in the Bahamas? Getting to grips with wintering Kirtland's warblers. World Birdwatch. 25(4): 13-15. [75675]
  • 29. Currie, Dave; Wunderle, Joseph M. Jr.; Ewert, David N.; Anderson, Matthew R.; Davis, Ancilleno; Turner, Jasmine. 2005. Habitat distribution of birds wintering in central Andros, The Bahamas: Implications for management. Caribbean Journal of Science. 41(1): 75-87. [75676]
  • 73. Mayfield, Harold F. 1972. Winter habitat of Kirtland's warbler. The Wilson Bulletin. 84(3): 347-349. [75712]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 87. Orr, Craig D. 1975. 1974 breeding success of the Kirtland's warbler. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 53(2): 59-66. [75717]
  • 95. Probst, John R.; Donnerwright, Deahn. 2003. Fire and shade effects on ground cover structure in Kirtland's warbler habitat. The American Midland Naturalist. 149(2): 320-334. [43954]
  • 101. Radabaugh, Bruce E. 1974. Kirtland's warbler and its Bahama wintering grounds. The Wilson Bulletin. 86(4): 374-383. [75724]
  • 112. Southern, William E. 1961. A botanical analysis of Kirtland's warbler nests. The Wilson Bulletin. 73(2): 148-154. [75741]
  • 115. Sykes, Paul W., Jr. 1989. Kirtland's warblers on their wintering grounds in the Bahamas Archipelago--a preliminary report. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 28. [19207]
  • 117. Sykes, Paul W., Jr.; Clench, Mary H. 1998. Winter habitat of Kirtland's warbler: an endangered nearctic/neotropical migrant. The Wilson Bulletin. 110(2): 244-261. [75743]
  • 128. Van Tyne, J. 1953. Kirtland's warbler. In: Bent, Arthur Cleveland. Life histories of North American wood warblers. United States National Museum: Bulletin 203. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution: 417-428. [75866]
  • 92. Probst, John R. 1988. Kirtland's warbler breeding biology and Habitat management. In: Hoekstra, Thomas W.; Capp, Jack, compilers. Integrating forest management for wildlife and fish. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-122. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 28-35. [76264]

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Live lower limbs

More info for the terms: association, cover, density, tree

Live lower limbs: The association of Kirtland's warbler colony decline with increasing height of lower live jack pine branches (see table below) has led to suggestions that lower live branches provide cover needed for fledglings and/or foraging habitat near the nest [92,99].

Average height and range of lower live limbs in habitats at varying stages of Kirtland's warbler use [99]
Habitat Stage Average height of lower live limbs Range of heights of lower live limbs
Habitat with new colony 12 inches (30 cm) 4 to 35 inches (10-90 cm)
Habitat with established colony 24 inches (60 cm) 8 to 43 inches (20-110 cm)
Habitat with declining colony 48 inches (120 cm) 24 to 60 inches (70-150 cm)

The height to the first live branch on trees near nests was significantly (P=0.04) shorter than the height to the first live branch on trees near random sites, although the height difference was only 1.5 inch (3.8 cm) [13]. Kirtland's warblers occurred in areas with lower live limbs below 3 feet (1 m) above ground in Oscoda, County. However, an area within this site where lower live limbs were generally less than 20 inches (50 cm) above ground had relatively sparse tree density and was used by Kirtland's warbler to a lesser extent than an area with lower live limbs generally from 20 to 36 inches (50-100 cm) and relatively dense tree cover [19]. Generally, colonies begin to decline when there is no live pine foliage below about 3 feet [92]. Mayfield [81] suggested that maximum cover for Kirtland's warblers is provided when there is no gap between the ground vegetation and lower pine branches. However, Walkinshaw [130] suggested that changes in groundlayer vegetation as jack pine stands age were more important to Kirtland's warbler occupancy than the loss of lower live branches. Lower pine branches persist with access to sunlight [81], and tree density influences the height of lower live limbs [19]. Thus, many openings in a stand may increase the duration that lower live limbs persist, thereby increasing the duration of Kirtland's warbler occupancy [81].

  • 13. Bocetti, Carol I. 1994. Density, demography, and mating success of Kirtland's warblers in managed and natural habitats. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University. 140 p. Dissertation. [76482]
  • 19. Buech, Richard R. 1980. Vegetation of a Kirtland's warbler breeding area and 10 nest sites. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 58(2): 59-72. [75671]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 99. Probst, John R.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1993. Relating Kirtland's warbler population to changing landscape composition and structure. Landscape Ecology. 8(4): 257-271. [23629]
  • 130. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. 1983. Kirtland's warbler: the natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science. 207 p. [19203]
  • 92. Probst, John R. 1988. Kirtland's warbler breeding biology and Habitat management. In: Hoekstra, Thomas W.; Capp, Jack, compilers. Integrating forest management for wildlife and fish. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-122. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 28-35. [76264]

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Preferred Habitat: Cover requirements

More info for the terms: cover, density, frequency, relative frequency, tree

Nests are located on the ground in dense cover under low jack pine branches. They typically occur near jack pine trees [87] in dense stands [13,87]. Based on data from the early 1990s, density at nest sites averaged 5,800 jack pine/ha, which was significantly (P=0.02) greater than the average 4,800 jack pine/ha at random sites. Significantly (P=0.005) fewer nests than random points occurred in openings, and nests occurred significantly (P=0.005) closer to trees than random points. The average distance from a nest to a tree was 7.6 feet (2.33 m), while the average distance from random points to the nearest tree was 11.7 feet (3.55 m) [13]. Nests on 3 breeding sites during the 1974 season averaged 15.5 inches (39.4 cm) from the base of either a jack or red pine [87]. Jack pine density (P=0.02) and cover category (P<0.001) were significantly greater on nest plots than random plots sampled in the early 1990s. The 5 cover categories were: absent; 1% to 10%; 11% to 25%; 26% to 50%; 51% to 75%; and 76% to 100%. These categories are referred to in the ground cover section below. The mean relative frequency of jack pine was 48% in nest plots, significantly (P=0.001) greater than the 26% relative frequency on random plots [13].
  • 13. Bocetti, Carol I. 1994. Density, demography, and mating success of Kirtland's warblers in managed and natural habitats. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University. 140 p. Dissertation. [76482]
  • 87. Orr, Craig D. 1975. 1974 breeding success of the Kirtland's warbler. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 53(2): 59-66. [75717]

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Factors influencing duration of occupancy

More info for the terms: cover, density, tree

Stand density, variation in stand density, and landscape heterogeneity are interacting factors that influence how long Kirtland's warblers occupy a stand.

Jack pine density influences the age at which a stand is colonized by Kirtland's warblers and the length of time a stand provides breeding habitat [19,81,85]. Mayfield [81] noted that a dense stand was occupied by Kirtland's warblers when jack pine was about 3 feet (1 m) tall. Sparse stands become suitable and are occupied by Kirtland's warblers at older ages than dense stands [19,81,85]. Suitability of sparse stands increases as tree crowns broaden and canopy cover increases [85]. Buech [19] estimated that characteristics associated with good Kirtland's warbler habitat occurred at 10 years of age in stands with 6,000 trees/ha, 15 years of age in stands with 2,500 tree/ha, and 22 years of age in stands with 1,500 trees/ha. Because of this, stands with patchy tree densities may mature into suitable habitat at staggered intervals and provide habitat over a longer period than those with uniform density [7,81,85]. Areas of low density allow sunlight to reach lower limbs of many jack pines, increasing the persistence of lower branches and potentially increasing the length of Kirtland's warbler occupancy [81].

Variation at the landscape scale, such as different microclimates, soil conditions, and/or physiography, promotes increased length of Kirtland's warbler occupancy [7,54,55]. Productive sites are colonized relatively soon after fire but are only suitable for Kirtland's warblers for short periods [55], while sites where jack pine growth is slow are occupied for a longer period once they become suitable [55,130]. From 1986 to 1988, 6 to 8 years after the Mack Lake Fire, Kirtland's warbler occupied areas with trees taller than those in unoccupied portions of the burn. The site with the tallest average height of northern pin oak had the greatest density of Kirtland's warbler [137]. In 1986, 71% of 14 males occupying the Mack Lake Burn occurred in a portion of the burn with warmer temperatures, better soil, and taller trees compared to other portions of the burn. By 1995, 83% of males occupied the portion of the burn with comparatively cool temperatures, poor soils, and slower jack pine growth [7]. Differing habitats within the burn allowed Kirtland's warbler to occupy the area longer than would have been possible in a homogenous landscape [129]. A similar trend was observed following the 1975 Bald Hill Fire. From the 1982 to 1986, over 70% of Kirtland's warblers in the burned area occurred in a high-elevation region with significantly (P<0.001) warmer mean weekly minimum temperatures, significantly faster (P=0.002) and more dense (P=0.041) jack pine growth, and significantly greater coverage (P=0.002) of taller (P=0.001) northern pin oak compared to the low-elevation area. From 1992 to 1997, 60% to 100% of Kirtland's warblers occurred in low-elevation habitat. The decrease in average elevation with length of Kirtland's warbler occupation of the burn was significant (P<0.001). In the case of the Bald Hill Burn, the diverse growing conditions within the burn extended the occupation of the site for 4 to 6 years [54]. Although the effects of differing site characteristics on jack pine growth rate have often been noted [7,54], effects on ground cover, stand characteristics, tree characteristics, and their interactions may also be important in Kirtland's warbler occupancy [55].

  • 7. Barnes, Burton V. 1996. Silviculture, landscape ecosystems, and the Iron Law of the Site. Forstarchiv. 67(3): 226-235. [75765]
  • 19. Buech, Richard R. 1980. Vegetation of a Kirtland's warbler breeding area and 10 nest sites. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 58(2): 59-72. [75671]
  • 54. Kashian, Daniel M.; Barnes, Burton V. 2000. Landscape influence on the spatial and temporal distribution of the Kirtland's warbler at the Bald Hill burn, northern Lower Michigan, U.S.A. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 30: 1895-1904. [38800]
  • 55. Kashian, Daniel M.; Barnes, Burton V.; Walker, Wayne S. 2003. Landscape ecosystems of northern Lower Michigan and the occurrence and management of the Kirtland's warbler. Forest Science. 49(1): 140-159. [43862]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 85. Nelson, Mark D.; Buech, Richard R. 1996. A test of 3 models of Kirtland's warbler habitat suitability. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 24(1): 89-97. [75911]
  • 129. Walker, Wayne S.; Barnes, Burton V.; Kashian, Daniel M. 2003. Landscape ecosystems of the Mack Lake burn, northern Lower Michigan, and the occurrence of the Kirtland's warbler. Forest Science. 49: 119-139. [43728]
  • 130. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. 1983. Kirtland's warbler: the natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science. 207 p. [19203]
  • 137. Zou, Xiaoming; Theiss, Corinna; Barnes, Burton V. 1992. Pattern of Kirtland's warbler occurrence in relation to the landscape structure of its summer habitat in northern Lower Michigan. Landscape Ecology. 6(4): 221-231. [19211]

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Landscape factors

More info for the terms: association, cover, density

Landscape factors: Kirtland's warblers require large areas of habitat, are influenced by habitat patchiness and interspersion of grassy openings, and may have greater reproductive rates in landscapes with flat compared to rolling topography. Kirtland's warbler distribution is patchy at the landscape level, although the spatial distribution of management areas contributes to this pattern [34].

Kirtland's warblers generally require large patches of habitat for nesting [79,137]. Of the male Kirtland's warblers censused from 1979 to 1989, 77% occurred in areas larger than 200 acres (80 ha) [99]. In a pooled dataset from 1931 to 1975, only 37 of 424 nests occurred in stands smaller than 200 acres (80 ha) [5]. Habitat patches smaller than 80 acres (32 ha) are rarely used by Kirtland's warblers [80,81,92,130]. Kirtland's warblers generally occur at greater densities and for longer durations in habitat patches of 1,000 acres (400 ha) or larger [47]. Site variability may influence the stand size required for Kirtland's warbler occupancy. In diverse landscapes Kirtland’s warblers may occupy smaller stands than those occupied in homogeneous landscapes [54,55]. For information on the importance of landscape heterogeneity, see Factors influencing duration of occupancy. A review notes that stand colonization by Kirtland's warblers may be influenced by stand size [92], presumably with larger stands colonized more quickly and/or more frequently. Kirtland's warbler's association with large patches may be due to fewer predators and competitors in adjacent habitats encroaching into large Kirtland's warbler habitat patches compared to encroachment into small patches [81].

Distance between habitat patches may influence stand colonization and, in some circumstances, male Kirtland's warbler density. During a period with increasing Kirtland's warbler population size and a stable and relatively high level of habitat availability, male Kirtland's warbler density was greater in patches that were closer to other occupied patches than in more isolated patches [35]. According to a review, the colonization of stands by Kirtland's warblers is influenced by the distance to an occupied breeding area [92], presumably with less isolated stands being colonized more quickly and/or more frequently.

Suitable Kirtland's warbler habitat includes dense thickets of jack pine (see Stand density) interspersed with grassy open patches [112,130]. On average these sparse areas comprised 16% to 27% of Kirtland's warbler territories observed in May and June of 1989 [85]. Kirtland's warbler territory size was significantly (P<0.01) related to interspersion, with territories with more changes between jack pine and open ground cover in the 1.6- to 6.6-foot (0.5-2 m) height zone generally smaller than those with more homogeneous vegetation. This results in stands with many small openings having higher Kirtland's warbler densities than less patchy stands. In this study open cover comprised about 55% of territories [109]. Heterogeneity in jack pine stand density may be important in maintaining adequate ground cover [19] and increasing the period of Kirtland's warbler occupancy [7,85]. During the 1970s, Kirtland's warbler used jack pine stands with fewer, generally smaller, openings more than a jack pine stand with more, generally larger, openings. Factors such as much greater density of jack pine, lower density of oaks, and taller jack pines likely influenced greater Kirtland's warbler use of the area with fewer openings [19].

Although Kirtland's warblers occur in stands with both rolling and level topography [13,81,137], reproductive success may be greater in flat regions than hilly ones. Nesting data from 1931 to 1975 [5], as well as an analysis incorporating data collected by Walkinshaw [10], suggested greater rates of brown-headed cowbird parasitism and lower nest success on hilly compared to flat terrain. Nests in flat areas had significantly (P≤0.01) fewer brown-headed cowbird eggs regardless of brown-headed cowbird control. In areas where brown-headed cowbirds were controlled, the average Kirtland's warbler fledglings per nest was significantly (P=0.033) greater on flat terrain than on hilly terrain [5]. Mayfield [81] notes that there are few waterlogged lowlands in the Kirtland's warbler's breeding range.

  • 5. Anderson, Walter L.; Storer, Robert W. 1976. Factors influencing Kirtland's warbler nesting success. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 54(3): 105-115. [75667]
  • 7. Barnes, Burton V. 1996. Silviculture, landscape ecosystems, and the Iron Law of the Site. Forstarchiv. 67(3): 226-235. [75765]
  • 10. Bergland, Mark. 1983. Factors influencing nesting success of Kirtland's warbler. In: Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. Kirtland's warbler: The natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science: 161-183. [76756]
  • 13. Bocetti, Carol I. 1994. Density, demography, and mating success of Kirtland's warblers in managed and natural habitats. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University. 140 p. Dissertation. [76482]
  • 19. Buech, Richard R. 1980. Vegetation of a Kirtland's warbler breeding area and 10 nest sites. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 58(2): 59-72. [75671]
  • 34. Donner, Deahn M.; Probst, John R.; Ribic, Christine A. 2008. Influence of habitat amount, arrangement, and use on population trend estimates of male Kirtland's warblers. Landscape Ecology. 23(4): 467-480. [75681]
  • 35. Donner, Deahn M.; Ribic, Christine A.; Probst, John R. 2009. Male Kirtland's warblers' patch-level response to landscape structure during periods of varying population size and habitat amounts. Forest Ecology and Management. 258: 1093-1101. [75906]
  • 54. Kashian, Daniel M.; Barnes, Burton V. 2000. Landscape influence on the spatial and temporal distribution of the Kirtland's warbler at the Bald Hill burn, northern Lower Michigan, U.S.A. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 30: 1895-1904. [38800]
  • 55. Kashian, Daniel M.; Barnes, Burton V.; Walker, Wayne S. 2003. Landscape ecosystems of northern Lower Michigan and the occurrence and management of the Kirtland's warbler. Forest Science. 49(1): 140-159. [43862]
  • 79. Mayfield, Harold F. 1993. Kirtland's warblers benefit from large forest tracts. The Wilson Bulletin. 105(2): 351-353. [22270]
  • 80. Mayfield, Harold. 1953. A census of the Kirtland's warbler. The Auk. 70(1): 17-20. [75714]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 85. Nelson, Mark D.; Buech, Richard R. 1996. A test of 3 models of Kirtland's warbler habitat suitability. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 24(1): 89-97. [75911]
  • 99. Probst, John R.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1993. Relating Kirtland's warbler population to changing landscape composition and structure. Landscape Ecology. 8(4): 257-271. [23629]
  • 109. Smith, Elaine Louise. 1979. Analysis of Kirtland’s warbler breeding habitat in Ogemaw and Roscommon Counties, Michigan. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University. 42 p. Thesis. [75738]
  • 112. Southern, William E. 1961. A botanical analysis of Kirtland's warbler nests. The Wilson Bulletin. 73(2): 148-154. [75741]
  • 130. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. 1983. Kirtland's warbler: the natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science. 207 p. [19203]
  • 137. Zou, Xiaoming; Theiss, Corinna; Barnes, Burton V. 1992. Pattern of Kirtland's warbler occurrence in relation to the landscape structure of its summer habitat in northern Lower Michigan. Landscape Ecology. 6(4): 221-231. [19211]
  • 47. Huber, Philip W.; Weinrich, Jerry A.; Carlson, Elaine S. 2001. Strategy for Kirtland's warbler Habitat management. Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Milwaukee, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Eastern Region; Fort Snelling, MN: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Midwest Region. 27 p. [78002]
  • 92. Probst, John R. 1988. Kirtland's warbler breeding biology and Habitat management. In: Hoekstra, Thomas W.; Capp, Jack, compilers. Integrating forest management for wildlife and fish. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-122. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 28-35. [76264]

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Stand density

More info for the terms: cover, density, lichens, shrubs, tree

Stand density: Nesting Kirtland's warblers require patches of dense jack pine of at least 2,000 stems/ha. According to a review, stands with canopy coverage less than 20% are rarely used for breeding, and optimal habitat generally has 35% to 65% canopy cover [92]. Although ranges of canopy cover on sites of varying age overlapped, recently occupied habitat had an average canopy cover of 27%; areas with established populations had an average canopy cover of 43%; and areas with declining Kirtland's warbler populations had an average canopy cover of 61% [99]. In May and June of 1989, Kirtland's warblers selected jack pine stands with >5,000 stems/ha and >35% canopy cover more than expected based on uniform use (P<0.001) [85]. The most important factors discriminating a site with a recently established colony from a similar area that was not used by Kirtland's warblers were greater total jack pine density, 3- to 7-foot (1-2 m) jack pine density, and 7- to 10-foot (2-3 m) jack pine density in the recently established colony [109]. Kirtland's warbler density increased with increasing jack pine stem density and canopy cover, with less than 1 bird/100 ha in stands with <2,000 stems/ha or <35% canopy cover; 2 birds/100 ha in stands with >5,000 stems/ha; and over 4 birds/100 ha in stands with >35% canopy cover [85]. More males were paired in stands that had been occupied ≥3 years and had 2,500 jack pine stems/ha than in less dense stands or stands that had not been occupied for 3 years [97]. A recently formed colony occurred in an area with 10,600 jack pine stems/ha, and an abandoned area had 1,600 jack pine stems/ha. Oak density was 10 stems/100 m² in an unused stand compared to 0.4 stem/100 m² in the recently established colony [109]. Kirtland's warblers used a stand with 48,260 jack pine stems/ha and 260 oak stems/ha to a greater extent than a stand with 4,210 jack pine stems/ha and 1,620 oak stems/ha. Greater tree density was associated with greater height of lower live limbs, less short (<20 cm) ground vegetation, higher coverage of dead wood and bare ground, and lower coverage of mosses and lichens, grasses, and prostrate shrubs [19]. For stand characteristics specific to nest sites, see Cover requirements. For information on the importance of heterogeneity in tree density, see Landscape factors. For information on the influence of tree density on the timing of Kirtland's warbler colonization and length of occurrence in a stand, see Factors influencing the duration of occupancy.
  • 19. Buech, Richard R. 1980. Vegetation of a Kirtland's warbler breeding area and 10 nest sites. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 58(2): 59-72. [75671]
  • 85. Nelson, Mark D.; Buech, Richard R. 1996. A test of 3 models of Kirtland's warbler habitat suitability. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 24(1): 89-97. [75911]
  • 97. Probst, John R.; Hayes, Jack P. 1987. Pairing success of Kirtland's warblers in marginal vs. suitable habitat. The Auk. 104(2): 234-241. [75720]
  • 99. Probst, John R.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1993. Relating Kirtland's warbler population to changing landscape composition and structure. Landscape Ecology. 8(4): 257-271. [23629]
  • 109. Smith, Elaine Louise. 1979. Analysis of Kirtland’s warbler breeding habitat in Ogemaw and Roscommon Counties, Michigan. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University. 42 p. Thesis. [75738]
  • 92. Probst, John R. 1988. Kirtland's warbler breeding biology and Habitat management. In: Hoekstra, Thomas W.; Capp, Jack, compilers. Integrating forest management for wildlife and fish. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-122. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 28-35. [76264]

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Jack pine age and size

More info for the terms: association, cover, density, tree

Jack pine age and size: Jack pine stands used by nesting Kirtland's warblers are 5 to 20 feet (1.5-6 m) tall and from 6 [81,130] to 22 years old [82]. Stands are often colonized when trees are 5 to 8 feet (1.4-2.3 m) tall, reach peak occupancy when trees are 8 to 12.5 feet (2.4-3.8 m) tall, and are vacated when trees are ≥12.8 feet (3.9-5.6 m) tall [99]. Trees over 10 feet (3 m) were significantly (P<0.05) more abundant in an area with a declining colony and in an area that had been abandoned by Kirtland's warblers compared with a recently formed colony and a colony at its peak [109]. Average age of occupied jack pine stands in Lower Michigan from 1979 to 2004 ranged from 9.4 to 14.9 years. Stands from 12 to 14 years old are considered optimal due to their high density of male Kirtland's warblers. Stand age was consistently a significant (P<0.001) predictor of male Kirtland's warbler density [35]. At these sizes and ages, jack pines are large enough to form dense thickets with interlacing branches but have not become so large that the lower branches become shaded and die [81].

Tall trees or snags on a site may reduce Kirtland's warbler nesting success. Based on nesting data from 1931 to 1975, snags or large trees in breeding stands were negatively associated (P<0.02) with breeding success [5]. Bergland [10] also found a negative association between snags and breeding success. This association may have been due to increased detection of nests by brown-headed cowbirds and/or predators [5,10]. During the 1974 breeding season, the greatest predation rates and all parasitism occurred in a stand where nests were near tall (x =10.8 feet (3.3 m)) trees, while no predation or parasitism occurred in a stand where nests where near the shortest trees (x =4 feet (1.2 m)) [87]. However, based on pooled nesting data collected from 1931 to 1975, Kirtland's warbler nest success was not influenced by variation in tree heights typically occurring in suitable habitat [5]. Despite the potential impacts on breeding success, a review notes that scattered snags and residual trees comprising less than 5% canopy cover provide song perches and may be valuable in areas where brown-headed cowbirds are controlled [92].

  • 5. Anderson, Walter L.; Storer, Robert W. 1976. Factors influencing Kirtland's warbler nesting success. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 54(3): 105-115. [75667]
  • 10. Bergland, Mark. 1983. Factors influencing nesting success of Kirtland's warbler. In: Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. Kirtland's warbler: The natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science: 161-183. [76756]
  • 35. Donner, Deahn M.; Ribic, Christine A.; Probst, John R. 2009. Male Kirtland's warblers' patch-level response to landscape structure during periods of varying population size and habitat amounts. Forest Ecology and Management. 258: 1093-1101. [75906]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 82. Mayfield, Harold. 1962. 1961 decennial census of the Kirtland's warbler. The Auk. 79(2): 173-182. [75713]
  • 87. Orr, Craig D. 1975. 1974 breeding success of the Kirtland's warbler. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 53(2): 59-66. [75717]
  • 99. Probst, John R.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1993. Relating Kirtland's warbler population to changing landscape composition and structure. Landscape Ecology. 8(4): 257-271. [23629]
  • 109. Smith, Elaine Louise. 1979. Analysis of Kirtland’s warbler breeding habitat in Ogemaw and Roscommon Counties, Michigan. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University. 42 p. Thesis. [75738]
  • 130. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. 1983. Kirtland's warbler: the natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science. 207 p. [19203]
  • 92. Probst, John R. 1988. Kirtland's warbler breeding biology and Habitat management. In: Hoekstra, Thomas W.; Capp, Jack, compilers. Integrating forest management for wildlife and fish. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-122. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 28-35. [76264]

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Breeding habitat

More info for the terms: cover, density, tree

Breeding habitat: Kirtland's warbler breeding habitat is highly specialized and consists of large areas of interspersed dense and open patches of young to intermediate-aged jack pine on permeable soil. Trees must be dense enough in some areas that branches interlace, as well as have enough open spaces to allow light to maintain the low jack pine branches that reach the short ground cover [81]. Both interlacing branches and branches low enough to touch ground cover may be required for Kirtland's warbler nesting cover. A review suggests that foliage volume is a major determinant of habitat suitability, with dense pine foliage associated with early stand occupancy and high Kirtland's warbler densities, pairing rates, and territory fidelity [92]. Cover for the nest [81], fledglings [81,92], and foraging adult females [99], as well as food availability [92], have been suggested as reasons for the importance of high foliage volume. Because of the specificity of Kirtland's warblers' stand density and tree size requirements, young stands grow into suitable habitat and then age to the point that they are no longer suitable.

The Grayling Outwash Plain landscape occurs from 900 to 1,580 feet (274-482 m) [2] and comprises much of the core Kirtland's warbler breeding range in northern Lower Michigan. Kirtland's warbler occupied an area of the Bald Hill Burn that ranged from about 1,100 to 1,170 feet (335-357 m) [54]. An arbitrary cutoff of 1,200 feet (372 m) was used to separate high- and low-elevation habitats in the Mack Lake Burn; Kirtland's warblers occupied both habitats at different times following the Mack Lake Fire [7].

  • 2. Albert, Dennis A. 1995. Regional landscape ecosystems of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin: a working map classification--4th revision: July 1994. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-178. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 250 p. [27980]
  • 7. Barnes, Burton V. 1996. Silviculture, landscape ecosystems, and the Iron Law of the Site. Forstarchiv. 67(3): 226-235. [75765]
  • 54. Kashian, Daniel M.; Barnes, Burton V. 2000. Landscape influence on the spatial and temporal distribution of the Kirtland's warbler at the Bald Hill burn, northern Lower Michigan, U.S.A. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 30: 1895-1904. [38800]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 99. Probst, John R.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1993. Relating Kirtland's warbler population to changing landscape composition and structure. Landscape Ecology. 8(4): 257-271. [23629]
  • 92. Probst, John R. 1988. Kirtland's warbler breeding biology and Habitat management. In: Hoekstra, Thomas W.; Capp, Jack, compilers. Integrating forest management for wildlife and fish. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-122. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 28-35. [76264]

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Preferred Habitat

More info for the terms: cover, density, presence, shrub

Stand age and density, soil permeability, large patch size, landscape level diversity, and presence of low shrub and herbaceous cover are all important, interrelated factors in providing Kirtland's warbler breeding habitat. Wintering habitats are more generalized than breeding habitats and are typically shrubby.

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Associated Plant Communities

More info for the terms: codominant, cover, fern, lichens, natural, shrub, shrubs

Breeding grounds: Characteristic Kirtland's warbler breeding habitat is in jack pine (Pinus banksiana)-dominated stands [81,87,130,137]. Red pine (P. resinosa) [81,112,130], eastern white pine (P. strobus) [81,130], quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) [81,112,130], bigtooth aspen (P. grandidentata) [112,130], pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica) [81,130], and oaks (Quercus spp.) [112,137] such as northern pin oak (Q. ellipsoidalis) [46,81,130,137] and scarlet oak (Q. coccinea) [81] may occur in these stands, and in some cases species other than jack pine are numerous. Oak canopy coverage in areas occupied by Kirtland's warbler colonies in the late 1970s reached 16% in Ogemaw County, Michigan [109] and 21.75% in a comparatively high-elevation portion of the Bald Hill Burn in Crawford County, Michigan [54]. Sites where jack pine codominates with oaks or other deciduous trees do not provide suitable Kirtland's warbler habitat [81,112]. Common shrubs include blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) [46,81,87,128,130], especially low sweet blueberry (V. angustifolium) [19,130,137], sand cherry (P. pumila) [46,81,87,130], kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) [46,81,87,128,130,137], sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina) [19,81,87,128,130], and serviceberry (Amelanchier sp.) [81,130]. Species comprising the ground cover include bluestems (Andropogoneae) [19,87,137], especially little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium var. scoparium) and big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) [46,81,130], oatgrasses (Danthonia spp.) [19], especially poverty oatgrass (D. spicata) [46,81,130], sedges (Carex spp.) [19,46,81,130], western bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum) [130], mosses [19,81,95,137], and lichens [19,95]. Kirtland's warblers also breed in red pine plantations with appropriate characteristics (see Cover requirements) [81,87,92,112]. However, the Kirtland's warbler recovery plan notes that Kirtland's warbler use of red pine stands typically occurs in areas adjacent to jack pine habitat [21], and Huber and others [47] state that use of these areas by Kirtland's warblers is rare and occurs for short durations.

A hatchling-year Kirtland's warbler was observed 3 miles (5 km) from the nearest breeding habitat during the postbreeding period in mixed coniferous-deciduous secondary growth surrounded by mature conifer forest. The overstory was dominated by black cherry (Prunus serotina), quaking aspen, northern pin oak, and jack pine. Average height of this stratum was 15 feet (4.5 m). Mean overstory coverage was 70%, and trees were patchily distributed. Ground cover was 100%; it was dominated by little bluestem and sweetfern [12].

Migratory habitat: Little information is available on the species composition of areas used by Kirtland's warbler during migration. A male Kirtland's warbler was mistnetted in a hawthorn-sweet crab apple (Crataegus spp.-Malus coronaria) thicket in southwestern Pennsylvania 3 times from 21 September to 2 October 1971 [26]. In Indiana in the late 1800s, Kirtland's warbler specimens were collected in "thickets", including a "plum thicket". In 1981, a Kirtland's warbler was photographed in a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) planting in Porter County, Indiana [84]. Kirtland's warbler was listed as a species that would use maritime forest/shrub-scrub in the southeastern coastal plain, a community dominated by live oak (Quercus virginiana), loblolly pine (P. taeda), and cabbage palmetto (Sabal palmetto), with thickets of understory shrubs including wax-myrtle (Myrica cerifera) and yaupon (Ilex vomitoria) [132].

Wintering grounds: Kirtland's warbler wintering habitat appears less specific than its breeding habitat. Kirtland's warblers have been observed in saline-upland transition communities [101,117], in natural and second-growth broadleaf scrub communities [30,73,115,117], and in Caribbean pine (P. caribaea) stands [43] with a shrubby understory [22,28,117]. On Eleuthera Island, wild sage (Lantana involucrata) and cinnecord (Acacia choriophylla) codominated the secondary shrub-scrub and low coppice habitats where Kirtland's warbler was observed. On Grand Turk Island, Kirtland's warbler was observed on sites with dominant and/or codominant species including darling plum (Reynosia septentrionalis), seagrape (Coccoloba uvifera), varnish leaf (Dodonaea viscosa), and broom brush (Baccharis dioica). Seashore dropseed (Sporobolus virginicus) was frequently the dominant ground cover on these sites [117]. On a Crooked Island site where a male Kirtland's warbler was observed, button mangrove (Conocarpus erectus) dominated the shrub layer, and black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) occurred in lesser amounts. Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) dominated the ground cover of this area [101]. A Kirtland's warbler was detected in tall coppice habitat 130 feet (40 m) from the edge of a short coppice habitat on Andros Island. It is possible that the playing of recorded Kirtland's warbler songs attracted it from the nearby short coppice habitat. The vegetation on the site was broadleaved woodland over 15 feet (4.6 m) tall [29]. Other studies did not document Kirtland's warbler in tall coppice communities [74,117].
  • 12. Bocetti, Carol I. 1993. Hatching year Kirtland's warbler captured in unusual habitat. The Wilson Bulletin. 105(3): 532-533. [75669]
  • 19. Buech, Richard R. 1980. Vegetation of a Kirtland's warbler breeding area and 10 nest sites. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 58(2): 59-72. [75671]
  • 22. Carey, Eric; Wunderle, Joseph M., Jr.; Ewert, David N. 2004. A research and training program for conservation of wintering Kirtland's warbler and associated species in the Bahamas: the first field season. Journal of Caribbean Ornithology. 17(Special Issue Honoring Nedra Klein): 81-85. [75672]
  • 26. Clench, Mary Heimerdinger. 1973. The fall migration route of Kirtland's warbler. The Wilson Bulletin. 85(4): 417-428. [75674]
  • 28. Currie, Dave; Wunderle, Joe; Ewert, Dave; Carey, Eric. 2003. The most elusive bird in the Bahamas? Getting to grips with wintering Kirtland's warblers. World Birdwatch. 25(4): 13-15. [75675]
  • 29. Currie, Dave; Wunderle, Joseph M. Jr.; Ewert, David N.; Anderson, Matthew R.; Davis, Ancilleno; Turner, Jasmine. 2005. Habitat distribution of birds wintering in central Andros, The Bahamas: Implications for management. Caribbean Journal of Science. 41(1): 75-87. [75676]
  • 30. Currie, Dave; Wunderle, Joseph M., Jr.; Ewert, David N.; Davis, Ancilleno; McKenzie, Zeko. 2005. Winter avian distribution and relative abundance in six terrestrial habitats on southern Eleuthera, The Bahamas. Caribbean Journal of Science. 41(1): 88-100. [75677]
  • 43. Haney, J. Christopher; Lee, David S.; Walsh-McGehee, Martha. 1998. A quantitative analysis of winter distribution and habitats of Kirtland's warblers in the Bahamas. The Condor. 100(2): 201-217. [75862]
  • 46. Houseman, Gregory R.; Anderson, Roger C. 2002. Effects of jack pine plantation management on barrens flora and potential Kirtland's warbler nest habitat. Restoration Ecology. 10(1): 27-36. [75691]
  • 54. Kashian, Daniel M.; Barnes, Burton V. 2000. Landscape influence on the spatial and temporal distribution of the Kirtland's warbler at the Bald Hill burn, northern Lower Michigan, U.S.A. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 30: 1895-1904. [38800]
  • 73. Mayfield, Harold F. 1972. Winter habitat of Kirtland's warbler. The Wilson Bulletin. 84(3): 347-349. [75712]
  • 74. Mayfield, Harold F. 1975. The numbers of Kirtlands's warblers. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 53(2): 39-47. [24989]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 84. Mumford, Russell E.; Keller, Charles E. 1984. The birds of Indiana. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. 376 p. [60761]
  • 87. Orr, Craig D. 1975. 1974 breeding success of the Kirtland's warbler. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 53(2): 59-66. [75717]
  • 95. Probst, John R.; Donnerwright, Deahn. 2003. Fire and shade effects on ground cover structure in Kirtland's warbler habitat. The American Midland Naturalist. 149(2): 320-334. [43954]
  • 101. Radabaugh, Bruce E. 1974. Kirtland's warbler and its Bahama wintering grounds. The Wilson Bulletin. 86(4): 374-383. [75724]
  • 109. Smith, Elaine Louise. 1979. Analysis of Kirtland’s warbler breeding habitat in Ogemaw and Roscommon Counties, Michigan. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University. 42 p. Thesis. [75738]
  • 112. Southern, William E. 1961. A botanical analysis of Kirtland's warbler nests. The Wilson Bulletin. 73(2): 148-154. [75741]
  • 115. Sykes, Paul W., Jr. 1989. Kirtland's warblers on their wintering grounds in the Bahamas Archipelago--a preliminary report. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 28. [19207]
  • 117. Sykes, Paul W., Jr.; Clench, Mary H. 1998. Winter habitat of Kirtland's warbler: an endangered nearctic/neotropical migrant. The Wilson Bulletin. 110(2): 244-261. [75743]
  • 128. Van Tyne, J. 1953. Kirtland's warbler. In: Bent, Arthur Cleveland. Life histories of North American wood warblers. United States National Museum: Bulletin 203. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution: 417-428. [75866]
  • 130. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. 1983. Kirtland's warbler: the natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science. 207 p. [19203]
  • 132. Watson, Craig; Hayes, Chuck; McCauley, Joseph; Milliken, Andrew. 2005. The South Atlantic Migratory Bird Initiative--an integrated approach to conservation of "all birds across all habitats". In: Ralph, C. John; Rich, Terrell D., eds. Bird conservation implementation and integration in the Americas: proceedings of the 3rd international Partners in Flight conference. Volume 1; 2002 March 20-24; Asilomar, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-191. Albany, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station: 266-276. [63712]
  • 137. Zou, Xiaoming; Theiss, Corinna; Barnes, Burton V. 1992. Pattern of Kirtland's warbler occurrence in relation to the landscape structure of its summer habitat in northern Lower Michigan. Landscape Ecology. 6(4): 221-231. [19211]
  • 47. Huber, Philip W.; Weinrich, Jerry A.; Carlson, Elaine S. 2001. Strategy for Kirtland's warbler Habitat management. Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Milwaukee, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Eastern Region; Fort Snelling, MN: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Midwest Region. 27 p. [78002]
  • 92. Probst, John R. 1988. Kirtland's warbler breeding biology and Habitat management. In: Hoekstra, Thomas W.; Capp, Jack, compilers. Integrating forest management for wildlife and fish. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-122. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 28-35. [76264]
  • 21. Byelich, John; DeCapita, Michael E.; Irvine, George; Radtke, Robert E.; Johnson, Nels I.; Jones, Wesley, R.; Mayfield, Harold; Mahalak, William J. 1985. Kirtland's warbler...recovery plan. Twin Cities, MN: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 39 p. [+ appendices]. [Prepared by the Kirtland's Warbler Recovery Team]. [77007]

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Preferred Habitat: Climate

Climate: Climatic conditions in areas occupied by Kirtland's warblers are typically moderate [81,125]. Temperatures on the wintering grounds from December to April and on the breeding grounds from May to August usually range from 55 °F to 88 °F (13-31 °C) [125]. The average July temperature in northern Lower Michigan is about 68 °F (20 °C) [81]. The frost- free period in northern Lower Michigan ranges from 80 to 130 days, although there is substantial risk of frost in the growing season [2,81]. Monthly rainfall from December to August in Kirtland's warbler-occupied areas ranges from 1 to 3 inches (25-75 mm) [125]. Mayfield [81] noted that the average annual rainfall in northern Lower Michigan was 30 inches (76 cm). In September, October, and November, monthly rainfall in The Bahamas is typically about 7 to 8 inches (170-200 mm) [125]. Given the extended duration of fall migration—with reviews noting arrivals in The Bahamas as early as August [21,78] and migrants present in the southeastern United States into early November [26]—the extent of Kirtland's warbler exposure to this level of rainfall is likely varied.
  • 2. Albert, Dennis A. 1995. Regional landscape ecosystems of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin: a working map classification--4th revision: July 1994. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-178. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 250 p. [27980]
  • 26. Clench, Mary Heimerdinger. 1973. The fall migration route of Kirtland's warbler. The Wilson Bulletin. 85(4): 417-428. [75674]
  • 78. Mayfield, Harold F. 1992. Kirtland's warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii). In: Poole, A.; Stettenheim, P.; Gill, G., eds. The birds of North America. No. 19. Philadelphia, PA: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, DC: The American Ornithologists' Union. 16 p. [78003]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 125. Twomey, Arthur C. 1936. Climographic studies of certain introduced and migratory birds. Ecology. 17(1): 122-132. [75919]
  • 21. Byelich, John; DeCapita, Michael E.; Irvine, George; Radtke, Robert E.; Johnson, Nels I.; Jones, Wesley, R.; Mayfield, Harold; Mahalak, William J. 1985. Kirtland's warbler...recovery plan. Twin Cities, MN: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 39 p. [+ appendices]. [Prepared by the Kirtland's Warbler Recovery Team]. [77007]

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The Kirtland's warbler nests in groves of young Jack pines (Pinus banksiana) ranging in height from 5 to 18 feet. They also seek out areas with ground cover composed of blueberries, bearberry, or sweetfern. These warblers also require a very specific soil type, the Grayling Sands, which is important because they nest on the ground and their nests would be flooded if rain water did not drain away quickly. For this reason, nearly 90% of these birds breed in the drainage area of a single stream.

Their winter habitat in the the Bahamas consists of low scrub. During the night they retreat to higher shrubs to roost.

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest

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The very specific habitat requirements of this species are the main cause of its threatened status. Despite nesting on the ground, Kirtland's warbler will only nest amongst 9 – 13 year old jack pines (Pinus banksiana); taller stands are abandoned for a new site. Ninety percent of these birds nest in the drainage area of a single stream, as they require the well-drained soil type found there, known as Grayling sands. They winter in low scrub, moving to higher shrubs to roost at night (4).
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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Enters and leaves U.S. along coasts of North and South Carolina. Arrives on the breeding ground in May. Extreme wintering dates: mid-November to late April; earliest arrivals (young of the year) reach the Bahamas in August, but many (adults) may remain in the nesting range into late September. Many may not pause in migration until at or near destination (Mayfield 1988).

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Life History: Migration

Migration: Kirtland's warblers arrive on the breeding grounds from 10 to 25 May. Males return a few days before females [76,130]. Kirtland's warblers depart the breeding grounds in August and September [76,118]. Hatching-year birds generally leave earlier than older birds. On 5 sites in Lower Michigan, hatching-year birds comprised 60% of the Kirtland's warblers netted from 16 to 31 August, while none of the Kirtland's warblers netted from 16 to 30 September were hatching-year birds [118]. The latest observation of a Kirtland's warbler on the nesting grounds following the breeding season was a female that was banded in the Mack Lake Burn on 1 October 1988 [119]. See reliance on plantations for details of that fire.

Available data do not provide definitive evidence for the Kirtland's warbler migration route(s) [26,89]. A direct south-southeast path has been suggested [76,89], including a nearly nonstop direct route from The Bahamas to Michigan in the spring [76]. Spring migration records support this hypothesis. A majority of spring migration records are from areas near the breeding grounds. States and provinces with 10 or more spring migration records, in decreasing abundance of records, are Michigan, Ohio, Ontario, Indiana, and Illinois. Spring migration records in coastal states are less common; as of 1989 there were 6 in South Carolina, 5 in Georgia, and 3 in Florida. [20]. Observations of fall migrants are also often near the breeding grounds. As of 1973, most fall sightings were in Ohio. Fall observations from coastal states included 3 records from South Carolina, 3 from Florida, and 1 each from North Carolina and Virginia [26]. However, multiple migration routes are possible [26] given the locations of observations [18,89] and the tendency of Kirtland's warblers to migrate alone [118] or with other species [89]. Hunter and others [49] suggest that the Atlantic and Florida coastlines are important for Kirtland's warblers during migration. Walkinshaw [130] provides an extensive list of spring and fall sightings through the early 1980s.

Weather patterns may influence the route [89] and timing [26] of Kirtland's warbler migration. For instance, arrival and departure of a male Kirtland's warbler in southwestern Pennsylvania in late September coincided with wind from the northwest [26]. Strong winds on 28 September 1991 may have blown a Kirtland's warbler to Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, where it was observed with several palm warblers (Dendroica palmarum) [89].

A Kirtland's warbler that spent at least 11 days in southwestern Pennsylvania gained nearly 2 grams during that period [26]. Netting Kirtland's warblers in August and September on the breeding grounds did not provide evidence of fat accumulation prior to migration [118].

  • 18. Brock, Kenneth J. 1995. Kirtland's warbler: Indiana's first fall record. Indiana Audubon Quarterly. 73(1): 1-2. [75768]
  • 20. Bull, James N. 1989. Spring migration in the Kirtland's warbler. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 40-50. [51037]
  • 26. Clench, Mary Heimerdinger. 1973. The fall migration route of Kirtland's warbler. The Wilson Bulletin. 85(4): 417-428. [75674]
  • 49. Hunter, William C.; Pashley, David N.; Escano, Ronald E. F. 1993. Neotropical migratory landbird species and their habitats of special concern within the Southeast Region. In: Finch, Deborah M.; Stangel, Peter W., eds. Status and management of neotropical migratory birds: Proceedings; 1992 September 21-25; Estes Park, CO. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-229. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 159-171. [65648]
  • 76. Mayfield, Harold F. 1988. Do Kirtland's warblers migrate in one hop? The Auk. 105(1): 204-205. [75705]
  • 89. Potter, Eloise F.; Radovsky, Frank J. 1992. Kirtland's warbler on the North Carolina coast in fall: its occurrence and possible significance. The Chat. 56(2): 21-29. [75718]
  • 118. Sykes, Paul W., Jr.; Kepler, Cameron B.; Jett, David A.; DeCapita, Michael E. 1989. Kirtland's warblers on the nesting grounds during the post-breeding period. The Wilson Bulletin. 101(4): 545-558. [75745]
  • 119. Sykes, Paul W., Jr.; Munson, Douglas J. 1989. Late record of Kirtland's warbler on the breeding grounds. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 67(3): 101. [75746]
  • 130. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. 1983. Kirtland's warbler: the natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science. 207 p. [19203]

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Dispersal

Dispersal: It is common for year-old Kirtland's warblers to establish a territory outside of their hatching colony. Of 27 males, 13 dispersed an average distance of 20.4 miles (33 km) from where they hatched, 12 returned to within 1 mile (1.6 km) of where they hatched, and 2 were found over 300 miles (500 km) from where they hatched [130]. Of 5 females banded as nestlings, 2 were found within 1 mile (1.6 km) of the banding site, and 3 others were found from 19 to 45 miles (30.6-73 km) from the banding site [102]. Only 8 of 296 Kirtland's warblers banded as nestlings or fledglings from 1933 to 1965 were observed as adults. Of these 8, 5 returned to their hatching colony. A lack of sampling effort away from hatching colonies may explain the low return rate observed [9].

Kirtland's warblers generally establish their first territories in habitat younger than the colony where they hatched. The average age of the stand where 25 males hatched in the late 1960s and 1970s was 14.9 years (range: 9-22 years). Average age of stands where these males established their first territories was 9.8 years (range: 6-15 years) [130].

Kirtland's warblers began dispersing into Upper Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ontario in the late 1990s [93]. The 2 birds Walkinshaw [130] reported as dispersing over 340 miles (550 km) to Ontario and Wisconsin were males hatched the previous breeding season. Several males that established territories in these areas returned in subsequent years [1,45,124]. Kirtland's warblers were observed moving between Lower and Upper Michigan both between and within breeding seasons. Dispersal distances from Lower Michigan to peripheral habitat were up to 220 miles (350 km) [93]. Although the decline of habitat suitability with time suggests that dispersal of young birds is adaptive [90], at low population levels dispersal into peripheral areas may reduce reproductive output because patches of suitable habitat and mates may be difficult to find [81,90,92].

  • 1. Aird, Paul. 1989. The dispersal of the Kirtland's warbler: myths and reality. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 32-37. [19204]
  • 9. Berger, Andrew J.; Radabaugh, Bruce E. 1968. Returns of Kirtland's warblers to the breeding grounds. Bird-Banding. 39(3): 161-186. [75668]
  • 45. Hoffman, Randy. 1989. History of Kirtland's warbler found in Wisconsin. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 29-31. [19205]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 90. Probst, John R. 1985. Summer records and management implications of Kirtland's warbler in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 63(1): 9-16. [75721]
  • 93. Probst, John R.; Donner, Deahn M.; Bocetti, Carol I.; Sjogren, Steve. 2003. Population increase in Kirtland's warbler and summer range expansion to Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, USA. Oryx. 37(3): 365-373. [75722]
  • 102. Radabaugh, Bruce E.; Radabaugh, Floyd E.; Radabaugh, Clarice A. 1966. Returns of Kirtland's warblers banded as nestlings. The Wilson Bulletin. 78(3): 322. [75725]
  • 130. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. 1983. Kirtland's warbler: the natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science. 207 p. [19203]
  • 92. Probst, John R. 1988. Kirtland's warbler breeding biology and Habitat management. In: Hoekstra, Thomas W.; Capp, Jack, compilers. Integrating forest management for wildlife and fish. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-122. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 28-35. [76264]
  • 124. Trick, Joel; Grveles, Kim. 2009. Wisconsin Kirtland's warbler updates: Wisconsin Kirtland's warbler 2009 season summary, [Online]. In: Endangered species in the Upper Midwest--Green Bay Ecological Services Office. Green Bay, WI: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wisconsin Ecological Services Office, Midwest Region (Producer). Available: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/GreenBay/kiwa/2009Summary.html [2009, October 23]. [76738]

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: On the nesting grounds, these warblers eat mainly insects, also berries (e.g., blueberries) and tree sap; forages on ground, on pine branches and among pine foliage and in scrub oaks, also flycatches (Terres 1980, USFWS 1980). Small fruits are important in the winter range.

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Food Habits

This species feeds primarily on insects; however, it is known to sample an array of other food materials including pine needles, grasses, and bluberries. Food is gathered by gleaning and flycatching on the wing.

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Food Habits

More info for the terms: selection, shrubs, tree

Kirtland's warblers generally forage for insects and fruits near ground level by gleaning. Few data address the relationship between food availability and Kirtland's warbler habitat selection.

Kirtland's warblers eat a variety of insects and fruits. Details on the insect proportion of the Kirtland's warbler diet come primarily from the breeding grounds [32,81,130]. Frequent insect food items in the Kirtland's warbler diet from June to September of 1995 to 1997 were ants and wasps (Hymenoptera; 45%), beetles (Coleoptera; 25%), moth larvae (Lepidoptera; 22%), spittlebugs (Cercopidae; 36%) and aphids (Aphididae; 21%). In this study low sweet blueberry occurred in 42% of samples [32]. Adult Kirtland's warblers were observed eating small beetles, cicadas (Hemiptera) [130], adult ant lions (Myrmeleontidae), damsel flies (Zygoptera), beelike insects (Hymenoptera) [81], moths, flies (Diptera), and caterpillars (Lepidoptera) and other larvae [81,130]. According to a personal observation reported in a review, caterpillars comprised a large proportion of forage brought to young Kirtland's warblers [116]. Adults were observed feeding on blueberries while the fruits were available [81,130]. A migrating Kirtland's warbler in Indiana was observed on the ground or in low vegetation foraging on insects [20]. Kirtland's warblers have been observed eating insects on the wintering grounds; details on the types of insects eaten were not available as of early 2010 [101,115]. Fruits may comprise a large proportion of the diet of wintering Kirtland's warblers. Of 448 foraging observations of 2 wintering Kirtland's warblers, 59% were of small fruit, over 80% of these from a single species [115]. According to unpublished data (Sykes cited in [117]), wild sage produces abundant fruit that is heavily used by Kirtland's warblers in the northern Bahamas during winter, and Carey and others [22] noted the use of black torch (Erithalis fruticosa) fruit by Kirtland's warblers on Eleuthera Island.

Data collected during migration and on the wintering grounds suggest Kirtland's warblers often forage near the ground in shrubs and herbaceous vegetation. On the wintering grounds, 98% of foraging observations of 2 Kirtland's warblers were within 10 feet (3 m) of the ground. The remaining observations were from 10 to 20 feet (3-6 m). The 2 Kirtland's warblers were in wild sage in 76%, twining soldierbush (Tournefortia volubilis) in 8%, West Indian milkberry (Chiococca alba) in 4%, cinnecord in 3.5%, and black torch in 3.3% of foraging observations [117]. Another Kirtland's warbler on the wintering grounds spent 70% of the time it was observed on the ground searching for food [101]. Kirtland's warblers observed in Indiana during fall migration foraged primarily within 3 feet (1 m) of the ground in "shrubs and goldenrod" [18], while a Kirtland's warbler observed during spring in Indiana foraged entirely within 2 feet (0.6 m) of the ground in herbaceous vegetation [115].

On the breeding grounds about 80% of Kirtland's warbler foraging observations were on jack pines. Slightly less than 10% were on the ground, and less than 5% were on northern pin oak. Variability in the use of oak suggested that use was influenced by availability [39]. Data on the proportion of time spent at varying heights from the ground while foraging on the breeding grounds are not available. However, Fussman [39] provides information on the proportional use of jack pine at increments of a quarter of tree height. Nearly 25% of Kirtland's warbler foraging observations were in the top quarter of jack pine trees in young (6-13 years old) and old (14-21 years old) nesting habitat [39]. Mayfield [81] noted foraging on the ground and in high limbs of large nearby trees. In a review, Probst [92] notes extensive use of logging slash and coarse woody debris by foraging Kirtland's warblers, while Fussman [39] found that coarse woody debris was used in less than 5% of foraging observations. It is not known if use of downed wood is facultative or if downed wood improves habitat quality [92].

The little information available on feeding methods suggests that most food is gleaned from vegetation. Mayfield [81] noted food was gathered from the ground and trees on the breeding grounds. On the wintering grounds 75% of the foraging of 2 Kirtland's warblers was gleaning. Other Kirtland's warbler Foraging behaviors on the wintering grounds included probing (13%), "hovering-gleaning" (7%), and other techniques (5%) [115]. Hovering [20,115], flycatching [81,84], or both have been noted on the breeding grounds [81], during migration [20,84], and on the wintering grounds [115].

Few data address the possible influence of food availability on habitat selection. Stand age had a marginal (P=0.063) influence on the vertical distribution of arthropod biomass, with old nesting habitat (14-21 years old) having greater arthropod biomass in the lowest quarter of tree height than abandoned, mature (>21 years old) stands. This trend was especially noticeable for larvae, which were not observed in the lower quarter of trees in mature stands. However, only 12% of Kirtland's warblers foraging observations were in the lower quarter of tree height. Different population segments used different jack pine strata. Females used the top quarter of the tree significantly (P<0.001) less than males, and females carrying food back to the nest foraged lower than females not carrying food (P=0.001). The author concluded that the benefit provided to food-carrying females by foraging lower in trees compared to either males or females foraging for themselves seemed strong, since food availability was greater in the upper halves of trees than the lower halves of trees over all age classes [39]. Probst [99] suggested the volume of foliage required to meet Kirtland's warblers foraging needs may influence habitat selection.

  • 18. Brock, Kenneth J. 1995. Kirtland's warbler: Indiana's first fall record. Indiana Audubon Quarterly. 73(1): 1-2. [75768]
  • 20. Bull, James N. 1989. Spring migration in the Kirtland's warbler. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 40-50. [51037]
  • 22. Carey, Eric; Wunderle, Joseph M., Jr.; Ewert, David N. 2004. A research and training program for conservation of wintering Kirtland's warbler and associated species in the Bahamas: the first field season. Journal of Caribbean Ornithology. 17(Special Issue Honoring Nedra Klein): 81-85. [75672]
  • 32. Deloria-Sheffield, Christie M.; Millenbah, Kelly F.; Bocetti, Carol I.; Sykes, Paul W., Jr.; Kepler, Cameron B. 2001. Kirtland's warbler diet as determined through fecal analysis. The Wilson Bulletin. 113(4): 384-387. [75680]
  • 39. Fussman, Jennifer Lynn. 1997. Foraging ecology of Kirtland's warbler in managed and natural breeding habitat. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University. 73 p. Thesis. [75867]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 84. Mumford, Russell E.; Keller, Charles E. 1984. The birds of Indiana. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. 376 p. [60761]
  • 99. Probst, John R.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1993. Relating Kirtland's warbler population to changing landscape composition and structure. Landscape Ecology. 8(4): 257-271. [23629]
  • 101. Radabaugh, Bruce E. 1974. Kirtland's warbler and its Bahama wintering grounds. The Wilson Bulletin. 86(4): 374-383. [75724]
  • 115. Sykes, Paul W., Jr. 1989. Kirtland's warblers on their wintering grounds in the Bahamas Archipelago--a preliminary report. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 28. [19207]
  • 116. Sykes, Paul W., Jr. 1997. Rare, local, little-known, and declining North American breeders--a closer look: Kirtland's warbler. Birding. 29(3): 220-227. [75744]
  • 117. Sykes, Paul W., Jr.; Clench, Mary H. 1998. Winter habitat of Kirtland's warbler: an endangered nearctic/neotropical migrant. The Wilson Bulletin. 110(2): 244-261. [75743]
  • 130. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. 1983. Kirtland's warbler: the natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science. 207 p. [19203]
  • 92. Probst, John R. 1988. Kirtland's warbler breeding biology and Habitat management. In: Hoekstra, Thomas W.; Capp, Jack, compilers. Integrating forest management for wildlife and fish. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-122. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 28-35. [76264]

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Food Habits

This species feeds primarily on insects; however, it is known to sample an array of other food materials including pine needles, grasses, and bluberries. Food is gathered by gleaning and flycatching on the wing.

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 6 - 80

Comments: The number of distinct occurrences has not been determined using standardized criteria. However, number of occurrences is not a particularly useful conservation status parameter for this species.

Based on a map of Kirtland's Warbler Management areas in Upper and Lower Michigan (USFWS 2012:23), and subjectively using "large" management area blocks as occurrences, it appears that there would be very roughly 20 occurrences in Michigan. This of course reflects a completely arbitrary delineation of occurrences.

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Global Abundance

2500 - 10,000 individuals

Comments: The 2012 annual census detected a record-high 2,090 singing males (USFWS, Midwest Region Endangered Species).

In 2012, about two dozen singing males were detected in Wisconsin. Based on monitoring in Adams County in central Wisconsin, approximately 4 out of 14 known nesting attenpts were successful. Source: USFWS, Wisconsin Ecological Services Field Office.

Since 2006, 1-2 nests have been found each year in Ontario.

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Demography and use

More info for the terms: avoidance, density, polygyny, selection, tree, wildfire

Kirtland's warbler densities are likely similar between plantation and wildfire habitat and are greater in those habitats than in stands that regenerate naturally following timber harvest. Based on data from 1980 to 1992, predicted average Kirtland's warbler densities were 0.21 male/40 acres in plantations, 0.19 male/40 acres in wildfire regenerated habitat, and 0.02 male/40 acres in stands that regenerated naturally following harvest [13]. In 1993, Probst and Weinrich [99] reported densities of about 2.8 males/100 acres in burned and unburned plantation habitat. According to the 1985 recovery plan, Kirtland's warbler densities were about twice as high in wildfire-regenerated habitat than in stands established without fire [21]. At low population levels and low habitat availability, average male Kirtland's warbler density was greater in habitat with wildfire origins than in plantations or naturally regenerated, unburned stands [35].

There is evidence that during a period of relatively low population sizes and low availability of suitable habitat (1979-1991) [35], Kirtland's warblers selected wildfire habitat over unburned or plantation habitat. During the 1980s, burned areas were used substantially more than management plantings [58,130]. From 1987 to 1994, approximately 75% of male Kirtland's warblers occurred in wildfire habitat, which comprised about 33% of the suitable habitat available [34]. In 1984, 30% of male Kirtland's warblers occupied unburned, unplanted areas, which comprised 54% of the available habitat; 55% of males occupied wildfire habitat, which comprised 41% of available habitat; and 4% of males occupied plantation habitat, which comprised 5% of the available habitat. In 1989, no Kirtland's warblers occupied unburned, unplanted areas despite those areas comprising 46% of available habitat. Seventy-six percent of males occupied wildfire habitat, which comprised 36% of available habitat, and 24% of males occupied plantation habitat, which comprised 19% of available habitat. The avoidance of unburned, unplanted areas was significant (P<0.001) in both years, and selection for wildfire habitat was significant (P<0.001) in 1989 [99]. In general, the use of unburned, naturally regenerated habitat declined as burned and plantation habitat became available [34,99]. These results led Probst and Weinrich [99] to conclude that use of unburned, unplanted areas before 1987 was due to the Kirtland's warbler population reaching the carrying capacity of the more suitable types. As burns aged and the Kirtland's warbler population increased, use of plantation habitat became more common [34,93]. After 2004, over 85% of males occupied plantation habitat [27,34]. Plantations were important in the 1970s, with an average of 42% of singing males occupying plantations (Ryel 1979 cited in [58]). However, the relative availability of plantation habitat during this period was not provided [58].

According to sources published through the early 1980s, Kirtland's warblers occupied plantation habitat for shorter periods than wildfire habitat, possibly because plantations have low tree density and thus become suitable later than stands established after wildfire. In addition, plantations have fewer openings, so low branches die earlier resulting in earlier abandonment of plantation habitat compared to wildfire habitat [19,81,130]. Unburned stands that have not been planted for Kirtland's warblers are generally not dense enough to provide suitable habitat [97,99]. Kirtland's warblers occasionally occupy these areas, but for short durations [92] due to significantly later colonization than on plantations (P<0.01) or in stands established following wildfire (P<0.001) [99]. Although not directly investigated, changes in plantation management may have increased occupancy lengths and overall habitat quality in plantations. These changes include incorporating landscape characteristics such as soils and elevation into selection of plantation locations [47,129], adding openings into plantation design [113], and increasing tree density [113,121], plantation size (see Stand-level details), and overall amounts of managed habitat [34,103]. The amount of habitat managed for Kirtland's warbler increased from about 11,400 acres (4,620 ha) in the early 1960s [58] to 153,000 acres (62,000 ha) by the early 2000s [47]

Increased reproductive success and population growth may be associated with wildfire habitat. Based on data on banded Kirtland's warblers collected from May to August from 1990 to 1992 and preliminary data from 1988 and 1989, colonies in plantations had positive growth and produced a similar number of young/nest as wildfire habitat. However, on average 28% of males were unmated in plantations, while only 8% were unmated in wildfire habitat. In addition the occurrence of polygyny was 22% in wildfire habitat compared to 6% in plantation habitat. This results in fewer young produced per male in plantation habitat [13]. The wildfire sites investigated were generally larger than the plantations (Donner 2007 cited in [34]), which may have influenced differences between Kirtland's warbler demography in the 2 habitat types [34]. See Landscape factors for importance of patch size. There is some evidence that prior to widespread brown-headed cowbird control, nesting success was higher in plantation habitat than in wildfire habitat. Following brown-headed cowbird control, nesting success in the 2 habitats was similar [10].

Increased population growth may also be associated with wildfire habitat. One explanation for faster population growth from 1988 to 1994 than following 1994 is lower productivity in plantations. Kirtland's warblers began moving out of aging burns and into plantations in about 1994 [34]. For more detail on the relationship between population size and habitat availability, see Factors influencing population size.

Insect abundance, diversity, and distribution near the edge of jack pine openings was similar (P>0.05) in stands planted for Kirtland's warbler and stands that established after wildfire. Differences at other scales were not investigated [39].

  • 10. Bergland, Mark. 1983. Factors influencing nesting success of Kirtland's warbler. In: Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. Kirtland's warbler: The natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science: 161-183. [76756]
  • 13. Bocetti, Carol I. 1994. Density, demography, and mating success of Kirtland's warblers in managed and natural habitats. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University. 140 p. Dissertation. [76482]
  • 19. Buech, Richard R. 1980. Vegetation of a Kirtland's warbler breeding area and 10 nest sites. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 58(2): 59-72. [75671]
  • 34. Donner, Deahn M.; Probst, John R.; Ribic, Christine A. 2008. Influence of habitat amount, arrangement, and use on population trend estimates of male Kirtland's warblers. Landscape Ecology. 23(4): 467-480. [75681]
  • 35. Donner, Deahn M.; Ribic, Christine A.; Probst, John R. 2009. Male Kirtland's warblers' patch-level response to landscape structure during periods of varying population size and habitat amounts. Forest Ecology and Management. 258: 1093-1101. [75906]
  • 39. Fussman, Jennifer Lynn. 1997. Foraging ecology of Kirtland's warbler in managed and natural breeding habitat. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University. 73 p. Thesis. [75867]
  • 58. Kepler, Cameron B.; Irvine, G. William; DeCapita, Michael E.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1996. The conservation management of Kirtland's warbler, Dendroica kirtlandii. Bird Conservation International. 6(1): 11-22. [75698]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 93. Probst, John R.; Donner, Deahn M.; Bocetti, Carol I.; Sjogren, Steve. 2003. Population increase in Kirtland's warbler and summer range expansion to Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, USA. Oryx. 37(3): 365-373. [75722]
  • 97. Probst, John R.; Hayes, Jack P. 1987. Pairing success of Kirtland's warblers in marginal vs. suitable habitat. The Auk. 104(2): 234-241. [75720]
  • 99. Probst, John R.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1993. Relating Kirtland's warbler population to changing landscape composition and structure. Landscape Ecology. 8(4): 257-271. [23629]
  • 103. Radtke, Robert; Irvine, G. William; Byelich, John D. 1989. Kirtland's warbler management. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 8-11. [19206]
  • 113. Spaulding, Susan E.; Rothstein, David E. 2009. How well does Kirtland's warbler management emulate the effects of natural disturbance on stand structure in Michigan jack pine forests? Forest Ecology and Management. 258(11): 2609-2618. [76565]
  • 121. Trauger, David L.; Bocetti, Carol I. 1993. Kirtland's Warbler Recovery Team effectively coordinates interagency research and management. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. 18(2): 14, 16-17. [22063]
  • 129. Walker, Wayne S.; Barnes, Burton V.; Kashian, Daniel M. 2003. Landscape ecosystems of the Mack Lake burn, northern Lower Michigan, and the occurrence of the Kirtland's warbler. Forest Science. 49: 119-139. [43728]
  • 130. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. 1983. Kirtland's warbler: the natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science. 207 p. [19203]
  • 47. Huber, Philip W.; Weinrich, Jerry A.; Carlson, Elaine S. 2001. Strategy for Kirtland's warbler Habitat management. Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Milwaukee, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Eastern Region; Fort Snelling, MN: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Midwest Region. 27 p. [78002]
  • 92. Probst, John R. 1988. Kirtland's warbler breeding biology and Habitat management. In: Hoekstra, Thomas W.; Capp, Jack, compilers. Integrating forest management for wildlife and fish. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-122. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 28-35. [76264]
  • 21. Byelich, John; DeCapita, Michael E.; Irvine, George; Radtke, Robert E.; Johnson, Nels I.; Jones, Wesley, R.; Mayfield, Harold; Mahalak, William J. 1985. Kirtland's warbler...recovery plan. Twin Cities, MN: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 39 p. [+ appendices]. [Prepared by the Kirtland's Warbler Recovery Team]. [77007]
  • 27. Committe on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. 2008. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Kirtland's warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii), in Canada--Endangered 2008, [Online]. In: Species at risk public registry--COSEWIC status reports. Ottawa: Environment Canada, Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (Producer). Available: http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/virtual_sara/files/cosewic/sr%5Fkirtland%5Fwarbler%5F0808%5Fe%2Epdf [2010, January 4]. [75949]

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Territories and colonies

More info for the terms: cover, density, formation, wildfire

Territories are arranged in clusters called colonies, which grow and decline as habitat ages. Territories are typically close enough that singing males can be heard on neighboring territories [80]. From 1986 to 1988, the average distance between territories within the Mack Lake Burn colony varied from 883 to 1,713 feet (269-522 m), depending on habitat characteristics [137]. Colonies tend to grow quickly during formation [91,106] and reach peak population size between 7 and 10 years [99]. Walkinshaw [130] reported that the area burned in the Artillery Range South Fire of 1955 was occupied by Kirtland's warblers for 17 summers, with peak colony size occurring 10 years after the first males were found. Baker [6] provides a graph showing the formation, peak, and decline of several colonies from 1971 to 1988. Although older birds continue to return to the same territory year after year [106,130], 1-year-old birds tend to nest in stands younger than the ones in which they hatched [130] (see Dispersal). Therefore, colony growth likely depends on recruitment of 1-year-old Kirtland's warblers from other colonies [106].

On the breeding grounds Kirtland's warblers typically have large territories [130]. Territories observed in the 1950s averaged 8.4 acres (3.4 ha) and ranged from 1.5 to 16.5 acres (0.6-6.7 ha) [81]. Territory sizes ranged from 10 to 21 acres (4.12-8.48 ha) on several sites during the late 1960s and 1970s. Territories were larger at low colony sizes and smaller at large colony sizes [130]. The average territory size of 12 males observed in the late 1970s was 6 acres (2.4 ha) and ranged from 2.5 to 13.8 acres (1.0-5.6 ha) [109].

Once a territory is established, adult Kirtland's warblers generally return to the same territory [9,81,106,130], with males more likely to return than females [9,81]. Walkinshaw [130] reports that only 3 of 27 males established new territories in their 2nd or 3rd breeding season; of 9 females, 7 returned to their original territory. Berger and Radabaugh [9] observed 18 of 28 males return to the territory used previously and 9 of 28 establish new territories within previously occupied colonies. Only 1 male moved to a new colony. Average distance between individual male territories in consecutive years was 1,176 feet (358 m). Of 41 females, 12 returned to the same territory, 23 returned to the same colony, and 5 moved to new colonies. Average distance between territories occupied by individual females in consecutive years was 1,560 feet (476 m) [9]. Mayfield [81] also found greater territory fidelity for males than females. Less than 25% of males moved more than the width of 2 territories between seasons, with an average movement of 660 feet (200 m). Over 50% of females moved more than the width of 2 territories, with an average movement of 1,400 feet (426 m).

Kirtland's warbler densities vary with habitat quality and stand age. In 1989 the density of Kirtland's warblers in Mack Lake Burn varied with jack pine density, with sparse stands having less than 1 male Kirtland's warbler/100 ha and stands with substantial cover having about 1 male Kirtland's warbler/23 ha [85]. Kirtland's warblers density in 8- to 20-year old wildfire stands averaged about 1 male/19 ha, while density in 13- to15-year old wildfire stands averaged 1 male/14 ha [98]. Probst and Weinrich [99] reported densities of about 1 male/14 ha in some plantation habitats. Mayfield [82] described densities of 1 male/33 ha as typical but observed Kirtland's warblers at densities as high as 1 male/4 ha in southeastern Oscoda County and as low as 1 male/120 ha in northwestern Montmorency and southwestern Presque Isla counties.

Limited data suggest that Kirtland's warblers use territories of about 20 acres (8 ha) on the wintering grounds. Based on 3 months' observation of 2 Kirtland's warblers on Eleuthera Island, territory size was estimated as 20.5 acres (8.3 ha) [117]. Based on observations over 2 days, Radabaugh [101] guessed that a Kirtland's warbler on Crooked Island had a territory of at least 17 acres (7 ha).

  • 6. Baker, Richard J. 1989. Population viability and the Kirtland's warbler. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 12-26. [51031]
  • 9. Berger, Andrew J.; Radabaugh, Bruce E. 1968. Returns of Kirtland's warblers to the breeding grounds. Bird-Banding. 39(3): 161-186. [75668]
  • 80. Mayfield, Harold. 1953. A census of the Kirtland's warbler. The Auk. 70(1): 17-20. [75714]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 82. Mayfield, Harold. 1962. 1961 decennial census of the Kirtland's warbler. The Auk. 79(2): 173-182. [75713]
  • 85. Nelson, Mark D.; Buech, Richard R. 1996. A test of 3 models of Kirtland's warbler habitat suitability. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 24(1): 89-97. [75911]
  • 91. Probst, John R. 1986. A review of factors limiting the Kirtland's warbler on its breeding grounds. The American Midland Naturalist. 116(1): 87-100. [75719]
  • 98. Probst, John R.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1989. Predicting Kirtland's warbler populations by habitat conditions. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 61-62. [51054]
  • 99. Probst, John R.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1993. Relating Kirtland's warbler population to changing landscape composition and structure. Landscape Ecology. 8(4): 257-271. [23629]
  • 101. Radabaugh, Bruce E. 1974. Kirtland's warbler and its Bahama wintering grounds. The Wilson Bulletin. 86(4): 374-383. [75724]
  • 106. Ryel, L. A. 1979. On the population dynamics of Kirtland's warbler. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 57(2): 76-83. [75731]
  • 109. Smith, Elaine Louise. 1979. Analysis of Kirtland’s warbler breeding habitat in Ogemaw and Roscommon Counties, Michigan. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University. 42 p. Thesis. [75738]
  • 117. Sykes, Paul W., Jr.; Clench, Mary H. 1998. Winter habitat of Kirtland's warbler: an endangered nearctic/neotropical migrant. The Wilson Bulletin. 110(2): 244-261. [75743]
  • 130. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. 1983. Kirtland's warbler: the natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science. 207 p. [19203]
  • 137. Zou, Xiaoming; Theiss, Corinna; Barnes, Burton V. 1992. Pattern of Kirtland's warbler occurrence in relation to the landscape structure of its summer habitat in northern Lower Michigan. Landscape Ecology. 6(4): 221-231. [19211]

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Factors influencing population size

Factors influencing population size: It is likely that declines in available habitat [21,34,79,83,91,107] and large reductions in reproductive success due to brown-headed cowbird parasitism [21,81,92,107,130] contributed to the decline of the Kirtland's warbler population between 1961 and 1971. Reproductive rates increased with brown-headed cowbird control (see brown-headed cowbird parasitism), beginning in 1972, with control likely averting further population decline [31,72]. However, it has been hypothesized that habitat limitation may have been the major cause of the decline [105]. Population size began to increase in the early 1990s, with the maturation of habitat burned in the late 1970s and 1980 [27,34,79,93,99]. Availability of suitable habitat increased from a bit less than 25,000 acres (10,000 ha) in the early 1980s to about 50,000 acres (20,000 ha) in the late 1990s and early 2000s. From 1988 to 1994 the Kirtland's warbler population more than tripled, and from 1994 to 2004 it increased another 74.6% [34]. Inference of a causal relationship between increased habitat and increased population size is based primarily on the timing of habitat increase and population growth. The strength of this inference was ranked as intermediate by James and McCulloch [52].

Logging operations in The Bahamas may have contributed to Kirtland's warbler decline [43,101]. However, several abundant habitat types apparently meet Kirtland's warbler wintering habitat requirements [74,117] suggesting that it has not been a major influence on Kirtland's warbler population trends.

See Other sources of mortality for discussions of the possible impacts of large storms and drought in The Bahamas on Kirtland's warbler population size.

  • 31. DeCapita, Michael E. 2000. Brown-headed cowbird control on Kirtland's warbler nesting areas in Michigan, 1972-1995. In: Smith, James N.; Cook, Terry L.; Rothstein, Stephen I.; Robinson, Scott K.; Sealy, Spencer G., eds. Ecology and management of cowbirds and their hosts. Studies in the Conservation of North American Passerine Birds. Austin, TX: The University of Texas Press: 333-341. [75678]
  • 34. Donner, Deahn M.; Probst, John R.; Ribic, Christine A. 2008. Influence of habitat amount, arrangement, and use on population trend estimates of male Kirtland's warblers. Landscape Ecology. 23(4): 467-480. [75681]
  • 43. Haney, J. Christopher; Lee, David S.; Walsh-McGehee, Martha. 1998. A quantitative analysis of winter distribution and habitats of Kirtland's warblers in the Bahamas. The Condor. 100(2): 201-217. [75862]
  • 52. James, Frances C.; McCulloch, Charles E. 1995. The strength of inferences about causes of trends in populations. In: Martin, Thomas E.; Finch, Deborah M., eds. Ecology and management of neotropical migratory birds: A synthesis and review of critical issues. New York: Oxford University Press: 40-51. [76385]
  • 72. Mayfield, Harold F. 1972. Third decennial census of Kirtland's warbler. The Auk. 89(2): 263-268. [75710]
  • 74. Mayfield, Harold F. 1975. The numbers of Kirtlands's warblers. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 53(2): 39-47. [24989]
  • 79. Mayfield, Harold F. 1993. Kirtland's warblers benefit from large forest tracts. The Wilson Bulletin. 105(2): 351-353. [22270]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 83. McGeen, Daniel S. 1989. A review of the predator-prey interactions versus habitat considerations for the Kirtland's warbler. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 70-84. [51061]
  • 91. Probst, John R. 1986. A review of factors limiting the Kirtland's warbler on its breeding grounds. The American Midland Naturalist. 116(1): 87-100. [75719]
  • 93. Probst, John R.; Donner, Deahn M.; Bocetti, Carol I.; Sjogren, Steve. 2003. Population increase in Kirtland's warbler and summer range expansion to Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, USA. Oryx. 37(3): 365-373. [75722]
  • 99. Probst, John R.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1993. Relating Kirtland's warbler population to changing landscape composition and structure. Landscape Ecology. 8(4): 257-271. [23629]
  • 101. Radabaugh, Bruce E. 1974. Kirtland's warbler and its Bahama wintering grounds. The Wilson Bulletin. 86(4): 374-383. [75724]
  • 105. Rothstein, Stephen I.; Cook, Terry L. 2000. Introduction: Cowbird management, host population regulation and efforts to save endangered species. In: Smith, James N. M.; Cook, Terry L.; Rothstein, Stephen I.; Robinson, Scott K.; Sealy, Spencer G., eds. Ecology and management of cowbirds and their hosts. Studies in the Conservation of North American Passerine Birds. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press: 323–332. [75732]
  • 107. Ryel, Lawrence A. 1981. Population change in the Kirtland's warbler. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 59(3): 76-91. [75733]
  • 117. Sykes, Paul W., Jr.; Clench, Mary H. 1998. Winter habitat of Kirtland's warbler: an endangered nearctic/neotropical migrant. The Wilson Bulletin. 110(2): 244-261. [75743]
  • 130. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. 1983. Kirtland's warbler: the natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science. 207 p. [19203]
  • 92. Probst, John R. 1988. Kirtland's warbler breeding biology and Habitat management. In: Hoekstra, Thomas W.; Capp, Jack, compilers. Integrating forest management for wildlife and fish. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-122. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 28-35. [76264]
  • 21. Byelich, John; DeCapita, Michael E.; Irvine, George; Radtke, Robert E.; Johnson, Nels I.; Jones, Wesley, R.; Mayfield, Harold; Mahalak, William J. 1985. Kirtland's warbler...recovery plan. Twin Cities, MN: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 39 p. [+ appendices]. [Prepared by the Kirtland's Warbler Recovery Team]. [77007]
  • 27. Committe on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. 2008. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Kirtland's warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii), in Canada--Endangered 2008, [Online]. In: Species at risk public registry--COSEWIC status reports. Ottawa: Environment Canada, Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (Producer). Available: http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/virtual_sara/files/cosewic/sr%5Fkirtland%5Fwarbler%5F0808%5Fe%2Epdf [2010, January 4]. [75949]

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Comparison of habitats of varying origin

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General Ecology

Breeding territory encompasses about 12 ha. Possibly affected negatively by periods of drought in the winter range (Mayfield 1993).

Nest predators are thought to include blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata), American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos), garter snakes (Thamnophis spp.), hognose snakes (Heterodon platyrhinos), thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus) and red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) (Mayfield 1992).

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Fire Management Considerations

More info for the terms: cover, fire suppression, fuel, natural, prescribed fire, presence, seed tree, selection, shrub, shrubs, surface fire, tree, wildfire

The use of prescribed burning for Kirtland's warbler began slowly and is still limited. In the early 1970s use of prescribed burning was uncommon and experimental [23]. From the early 1970s to the late 1980s, about 4,500 acres (1,820 ha) were burned under prescription, less than the management goal. The average cost of prescribed burning over this period was a little more than $18.00/acre [134,135]. Acres managed for Kirtland's warbler increased substantially in the late 1980s and 1990s [34]. As of 2009, prescribed burning is rarely used in developing Kirtland's warbler habitat in plantations or elsewhere (Huber 2009 personal communication [48]). A 1988 review includes a list for prioritizing sites for prescribed burning [92] (see Prescribed burning implementation). High priority for burning is assigned to sites that were not burned in the previous rotation, suggesting that a considerable proportion of available, developing, and/or planned plantation habitat during the late 1980s and 1990s was not burned under prescription. Although the cut-burn-plant method of creating plantations is commonly discussed [21,58,92], its benefits for creating Kirtland's warbler habitat and/or mimicking wildfire habitat are not. An exception is Wilson's [135] discussion of the benefits of prescribed burning including an apparent improvement in planting efficiency by removing slash that interferes with planting machinery following conventional cutting, a reduction in "competition" between planted seedlings and residual trees, a reduction of risk of jack pine budworm (Choristoneura pinus) infestation by reducing overstory, a reduction in fuelwhich aids fire suppression if needed to prevent fire spread into adjacent occupied habitatand an opportunity to provide training for suppression activities in occupied habitat [135]. In contrast, other articles mention difficulties in implementing prescribed fire [42,58,58,135], limiting its use. The development of fire surrogates was recommended for promoting coverage of low shrubs [13] and in situations where prescribed burning is not feasible [13,58] (see Reliance on plantations). As of 2009, whole-tree harvest followed by trenching and hand-planting or machine planting is the typical method for development of Kirtland's warbler habitat [47] and provides similar fuel reduction benefits as those of prescribed fire mentioned by Wilson [135]. For details of management and recommendations regarding plantation establishment and design, see Plantation management. Cayford [23] provides several site preparation methods for regeneration of jack pine for timber production purposes. Fire is excluded from occupied areas to prevent losses of currently available habitat [21]. Huber and others [47] recommend that occupied Kirtland's warbler habitat and developing habitat (1- to 21-year old jack pine stands) be given "very high priority" in fire prevention and suppression plans. However, successful control of severe fire in occupied jack pine stands is largely dependent on weather conditions and fuel characteristics (Huber 2009 personal communication [48]). Thus, suppression of wildfires in occupied habitat may not be possible under severe burning conditions.

Details of prescribed fire implementation: The following information is primarily from 2 reviews, the Kirtland's warbler Recovery Plan from 1985 [21] and a review by Probst [92] from 1988. Apparently the most common use for prescribed burning in the 1980s was to prepare sites for planting following timber harvest [21,92]. According to the 1985 Recovery Plan, this method was costly but was the most successful and possibly the fastest way to generate dense jack pine stands [21]. Prescribed burning following seed tree harvests often fails to regenerate jack pine [47,92], and subsequent planting has been needed following use of this method [21,92]. Shelterwood harvests followed by burning have also not resulted in satisfactory jack pine regeneration, and windthrow in these stands may be a problem [92]. Seed tree and shelterwood harvests may have greater success in cooler, moister portions of the Kirtland's warbler's range [47]. In his 1988 review, Probst [92] recommends leaving clumps of mature trees during timber harvest to promote dense patches of regeneration [92]. Sites prioritized for prescribed burning include those with residual jack pines, abundant slash, dense broadleaf undergrowth, and/or were not burned in the last rotation [92]. Based on differences in wildfire and plantation habitat, Bocetti [13] suggested that plantations would better mimic wildfire habitats if logging slash were left on site to fuel more severe prescribed fires. This could lead to greater jack pine and low shrub regeneration. However, in a 2001 review, Huber and others [47] note that burning slash following timber harvest has not produced Kirtland's warbler habitat and suggest that burning standing jack pine may provide Kirtland's warbler habitat. Bocetti [13] also recommended increasing the number of openings in plantations and investigating the potential of alternative scarification techniques to increase abundance of shrubby groundlayer species. Based primarily on the response of low sweet blueberry to experimental planting, Houseman and Anderson [46] recommend a planting delay of 3 years following prescribed burning and 1 year if prescribed burning is not possible. In contrast, Probst and Donnerwright [95] suggest that prescribed burning should focus on jack pine regeneration (see Indirect habitat effects) and creation of diverse groundlayer vegetation, not regeneration of specific ground cover species. Since Kirtland's warblers use habitats with a wide range of groundlayer characteristics and planting breaks up sedge (Carex spp.) mats, which could reduce groundlayer species diversity, they suggest that prescribed burning to maintain ground cover for the Kirtland's warbler is not necessary after every harvest [95]. Ideas presented in the Kirtland's warbler Recovery Plan for future use of fire include reducing the use of fire suppression in habitat suitable for Kirtland's warblers and incorporating firebreaks to contain fires and reduce risk of unwanted fire spread [21]. On poor sites where jack pine is not merchantable, prescribed fire is recommended as the primary tool for generating dense jack pine stands, along with other noncommercial treatments [21]. For various combinations of harvest, site preparation, and regeneration methods used in attempting to create Kirtland's warbler habitat, see the 1988 review by Probst [92]. More details of plantation characteristics and selection are available in Plantation management. A 1971 article provides considerable information on techniques used when prescribed fire was first being implemented in jack pine forests [23].

Management in recently burned areas: In addition to adjusting the habitat development schedule following wildfires [47], recommendations for recently burned areas range from implementing measures to improve Kirtland's warbler habitat quality [21,92] to performing no management activities [113]. Reviews of Kirtland's warbler management suggest in-fill planting in poorly-stocked stands 5 or 6 years after prescribed fire or wildfires [21,92], when stands are less than 5 feet (1.5 m) in height [21]. Improvements to habitat may be especially beneficial in occupied habitat or developing habitat near occupied areas. In addition to in-fill planting in poorly-stocked areas, small openings may be created to increase patchiness, and spot burning may improve suitability of groundlayer vegetation [21]. Although preliminary observations suggested that Kirtland's warbler abundance was similar in areas that were not salvage logged and those that were (Taylor 2009 personal communication [120]), Huber and others [47] do not recommend salvage logging in most cases. Due to the differences between plantations and wildfire habitats, Spaulding and Rothstein [113] suggest that providing structure associated with young burned areas is best achieved by leaving wildfire-burned areas alone, including no salvage logging. Increases in the amounts of mature habitat on the landscape were also recommended to provide a "more natural distribution of stand ages" [113], although historic proportions of varying age classes of jack pine within the Kirtland's warbler range were not addressed. See differences in habitat characteristics and reliance on plantations for discussions of some negative consequences of widespread use of plantations to provide Kirtland's warbler habitat.

Limitations of prescribed burning: Obstacles to prescribed burning include a narrow window of acceptable burning conditions [58,135] that occur only about 20 days out of the year [135], land use conflicts, and air quality concerns (Smith 2002 cited in [42]), which add an additional requirement of appropriate wind direction near areas with a substantial human presence [135]. In addition to the difficulties of using prescribed fire, it is not clear if prescribed fire creates conditions that mimic wildfire habitat. The degree to which use of prescribed fire in plantation establishment could minimize differences between plantations and wildfire has not been directly addressed.

Mitigation of the impacts of disturbance: Habitat management activities are best performed outside the breeding season, mostly in fall and winter, to reduce impacts on Kirtland's warblers [21]. In addition to reducing direct impact of humans on Kirtland's warblers [107], area closures and limited use of mechanized equipment during periods with high fire danger reduce risk of human-caused fire during the breeding and postbreeding seasons [118].

Reliance on plantations: The amount of plantation habitat suitable for Kirtland's warblers increased from about 12,400 acres (5,000 ha) in the early 1980s to over 49,400 acres (20,000 ha) as of 2004 [34]. The relative importance of plantations to Kirtland's warblers has also increased, with less than 5,000 acres (2,000 ha) of plantation habitat occupied by Kirtland's warblers in each year of the 1980s and over 22,200 acres (9,000 ha) of plantation habitat occupied by 85% of male Kirtland's warblers in 2004 [34] (see Comparision of habitats of varying origins).

Managers rely on plantations because of the risks of using fire to provide Kirtland's warbler habitat. First, not all the area burned in a wildfire becomes suitable Kirtland's warbler habitat [61,79]. According to a review by Kline [61], none of the wildfires that burned within the breeding range from 1981 to 1989 provided suitable Kirtland's warbler nesting habitat. Second, the stand-replacement fires that historically produced Kirtland's warbler habitat in jack pine forests (see Indirect Fire Effects) are logistically difficult to mimic and pose high liability risks [61] in the Kirtland's warbler range that has an increasing human presence [42]. Use of large fires in this context is not feasible socially or politically [113]. As of 2009, it is not clear from the literature if prescribed burning provides any substantial benefits over other site preparation methods either in quality of Kirtland's warbler habitat or in greater similarities to wildfire habitat. In addition, the difficulties associated with prescribed surface fires used to prepare sites for jack pine planting are many (see Limitations of prescribed burnin). The Mack Lake Fire started as a prescribed surface fire that escaped control [36]. It ultimately burned about 25,000 acres (10,000 ha) [36,108], destroyed 44 structures [58], and killed Forest Service technician Jim Swiderski [36,61]. Discussions of the circumstances behind [36,108], costs of [36,58,61,108], and lessons learned [59,108] from the Mack Lake Fire are available.

Lingering impacts of the Mack Lake Fire include a possible decrease in the use of prescribed burning, at least through the 1980s, and an increased focus on other site preparation methods, including planting following whole tree harvest, burning slash piles following harvest, and/or mechanical scalping [58]. Although not discussed in the literature, it is likely that the Mack Lake Fire is at least partially responsible for the dependence on the whole tree harvest, plowing, and planting methodology that was most used for creation of Kirtland's warbler habitat as of 2009.  
Machine planting of jack pine for Kirtland's warbler habitat.
Phil Huber, USDA Forest Service Find-a-Photo

Although the focus of plantations is providing habitat for Kirtland's warblers, managers stress that these areas meet multiple-use objectives and are part of broader management of the jack pine ecosystem. Probst and Ennis [96] note that Kirtland's warbler plantations provide timber and recreation and meet habitat needs of several species that occur in mature jack pine communities. In addition, different management in adjacent lands meets the needs of species with different requirements [96]. Although the primary reason for a 50-year harvest rotation is to maximize the commercial value of the timber, extended rotation lengths also allow for accommodation of other wildlife needs [47,58]. For an analysis of incorporating multiple objectives, including Kirtland's warbler habitat, into ecosystem management planning, see Zollner and others [136].

There is concern regarding the consequences of replacing the natural disturbance of wildfire with an artificial one with a primary goal of providing habitat for a single species. Differences in nitrification between wildfire-burned and harvested stands may ultimately degrade sites because of leaching [65]. Houseman and Anderson [46] recommend an investigation of the impacts of furrows created during jack pine planting on soil systems, seed banks, and other groundlevel ecosystem components, and suggest seeding openings in plantations with native species to restore and maintain understory species of jack pine barrens [46]. Structural differences between burned and harvested areas (see Differences in habitat characteristics) may impact other wildlife species in jack pine habitat, especially those that require snags and/or coarse woody debris [113]. Spaulding and Rothstein [113] recommend leaving burned areas alone to protect the features of recently burned habitat (see Management in recently burned areas) that are not represented in plantations (see Differences in habitat characteristics). Hutto and others [51] also note that using alternatives to the natural disturbance processes for single-species management prevents large-scale management that conforms to evolutionary disturbance processes.
  • 13. Bocetti, Carol I. 1994. Density, demography, and mating success of Kirtland's warblers in managed and natural habitats. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University. 140 p. Dissertation. [76482]
  • 23. Cayford, J. H. 1971. The role of fire in the ecology and silviculture of jack pine. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1970 August 20-21; Fredericton, NB. No. 10. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 221-244. [18941]
  • 34. Donner, Deahn M.; Probst, John R.; Ribic, Christine A. 2008. Influence of habitat amount, arrangement, and use on population trend estimates of male Kirtland's warblers. Landscape Ecology. 23(4): 467-480. [75681]
  • 36. Doyle, Nancy. 1980. Forest Service fire claims Michigan man. Northern Logger and Timber Processor. 29(2): 10-11. [19239]
  • 42. Hamel, Paul B.; Rosenberg, Kenneth V.; Buehler, David A. 2005. Is management for golden-winged warblers and cerulean warblers compatible? In: Ralph, C. John; Rich, Terrell D., eds. Bird conservation implementation and integration in the Americas: proceedings of the 3rd international Partners in Flight conference. Volume 1; 2002 March 20-24; Asilomar, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-191. Albany, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station: 322-331. [63721]
  • 46. Houseman, Gregory R.; Anderson, Roger C. 2002. Effects of jack pine plantation management on barrens flora and potential Kirtland's warbler nest habitat. Restoration Ecology. 10(1): 27-36. [75691]
  • 51. Hutto, Richard L.; Conway, Courtney J.; Saab, Victoria A.; Walters, Jeffrey R. 2009. What constitutes a natural fire regime? Insight from the ecology and distribution of coniferous forest birds in North America. Fire Ecology Special Issue. 4(2): 115-132. [74275]
  • 58. Kepler, Cameron B.; Irvine, G. William; DeCapita, Michael E.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1996. The conservation management of Kirtland's warbler, Dendroica kirtlandii. Bird Conservation International. 6(1): 11-22. [75698]
  • 59. Kilgore, Bruce M. 1982. Fire management programs in national parks and wilderness. In: Lotan, James E., ed. Fire--its field effects: Proceedings of the symposium; 1982 October 19-21; Jackson, WY. Missoula, MT: The Intermountain Fire Council; Pierre, SD: The Rocky Mountain Fire Council: 61-90. [30691]
  • 61. Kline, David. 1989. A manager's perspective. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 55-56. [51050]
  • 65. Leduc, Stephen D.; Rothstein, David E. 2007. Initial recovery of soil carbon and nitrogen pools and dynamics following disturbance in jack pine forests: a comparison of wildfire and clearcut harvesting. Soil Biology & Biochemistry. 39(11): 2865-2876. [69767]
  • 79. Mayfield, Harold F. 1993. Kirtland's warblers benefit from large forest tracts. The Wilson Bulletin. 105(2): 351-353. [22270]
  • 95. Probst, John R.; Donnerwright, Deahn. 2003. Fire and shade effects on ground cover structure in Kirtland's warbler habitat. The American Midland Naturalist. 149(2): 320-334. [43954]
  • 96. Probst, John R.; Ennis, Kenneth Rex. 1989. Multi-resource values of Kirtland's warbler habitat. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 69. [51059]
  • 107. Ryel, Lawrence A. 1981. Population change in the Kirtland's warbler. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 59(3): 76-91. [75733]
  • 108. Simard, Albert J.; Haines, Donald A.; Blank, Richard W.; Frost, John S. 1983. The Mack Lake fire. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-83. East Lansing, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 36 p. [29662]
  • 113. Spaulding, Susan E.; Rothstein, David E. 2009. How well does Kirtland's warbler management emulate the effects of natural disturbance on stand structure in Michigan jack pine forests? Forest Ecology and Management. 258(11): 2609-2618. [76565]
  • 118. Sykes, Paul W., Jr.; Kepler, Cameron B.; Jett, David A.; DeCapita, Michael E. 1989. Kirtland's warblers on the nesting grounds during the post-breeding period. The Wilson Bulletin. 101(4): 545-558. [75745]
  • 134. Wilson, Ronald L. 1987. Prescribed burning in Michigan. Fire Management Notes. 48(4): 12-14. [21167]
  • 135. Wilson, Ronald L. 1989. Fire and fire effects--its impact on forest vegetation for Kirtland's warbler habitat. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 57-60. [19208]
  • 136. Zollner, Patrick A.; Roberts, L. Jay; Gustafson, Eric J.; He, Hong S.; Radeloff, Volker. 2008. Influence of forest planning alternatives on landscape pattern and ecosystem processes in northern Wisconsin, USA. Forest Ecology & Management. 254(3): 429-444. [75758]
  • 47. Huber, Philip W.; Weinrich, Jerry A.; Carlson, Elaine S. 2001. Strategy for Kirtland's warbler Habitat management. Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Milwaukee, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Eastern Region; Fort Snelling, MN: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Midwest Region. 27 p. [78002]
  • 92. Probst, John R. 1988. Kirtland's warbler breeding biology and Habitat management. In: Hoekstra, Thomas W.; Capp, Jack, compilers. Integrating forest management for wildlife and fish. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-122. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 28-35. [76264]
  • 21. Byelich, John; DeCapita, Michael E.; Irvine, George; Radtke, Robert E.; Johnson, Nels I.; Jones, Wesley, R.; Mayfield, Harold; Mahalak, William J. 1985. Kirtland's warbler...recovery plan. Twin Cities, MN: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 39 p. [+ appendices]. [Prepared by the Kirtland's Warbler Recovery Team]. [77007]
  • 48. Huber, Philip. 2009. [Personal communication]. December 2. Regarding Kirtland's warbler Habitat management and fire regime within Kirtland's warblers range. Mio, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forest, Mio Ranger District. On file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [77450]
  • 120. Taylor, Sylvia M. 2009. [Email to Rachelle Meyer]. October 28. Regarding 1993 Kirtland's warbler article. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and Environment. On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [76991]

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Fire Regimes

More info for the terms: association, crown fire, fire exclusion, fire frequency, fire regime, fire severity, fire suppression, fire-return interval, frequency, fuel, fuel continuity, ladder fuels, mean fire-return interval, severity, wildfire

Breeding habitat: Jack pine forests experience varying fire severities, with stand-replacement fires occurring about every 30 to 60 years during spring, summer, or fall. Before European settlement of the northern Great Lakes Region, large, stand-replacement fires occurred at variable frequencies, and low-severity surface fires occurred at high frequencies [56]. The fire season in the northern Great Lakes region lasts from April to October. From 1960 to 1969, fires on the Huron-Manistee National Forest peaked from April to June [41]. Fire season within the core of the Kirtland's warbler range in northern Lower Michigan peaks in late April to early May (Huber 2009 personal communication [48]). Fires in northeastern Wisconsin typically occurred from May to October [67]. Risk of fire in jack pine is especially high during dry periods [81,118], which are relatively common in northeastern Wisconsin [67].

Although jack pine stands often experience severe, stand-replacement fires [23,51], several factors influence fire severity, including weather [56,127], site characteristics [56], and fuel conditions [114,127]. An immature jack pine stand with an average height of 27 feet (8.2 m) "readily sustained" crown fires due to the proximity of surface and canopy fuels [114]. Johnson [53] also notes the horizontal and vertical fuel continuity in immature jack pine stands. Hutto and others [51] suggest that Kirtland's warbler dependence on large areas of young jack pine trees is evidence that stand-replacement fires are an important component of jack pine FIRE REGIMES at high, mid-, and to some extent, low elevations. However, surface fires do occur in jack pine forests. In mature jack pine the base height of the live crown is well above the ground. This and the lack of surface and ladder fuels [53] contribute to a low incidence of crown fire in mature stands [114].

Fires generally occur about every 30 to 60 years in jack pine forests in Michigan [25,108], although fire has become infrequent with fire exclusion. Based on General Land Office data collected in Michigan from 1836 to 1858, the fire-return interval in the 836,200-acre (338,402 ha) jack pine association was 59 years [25]. An estimate of mean fire frequency of 28 years for the Mack Lake area was based on historical data from 1820 to 1980 [108]. There were multiple large wildfires during the late 1890s and early 1900s within the Kirtland's warbler range, including at least 3 individual fires over 90,000 acres (247,000 ha) [56]. These fires may have provided abundant habitat and resulted in an increased Kirtland's warbler population (see Other status). Effective fire suppression followed, with a coincident drop in the acres burned annually in Michigan from 573,000 acres (232,000 ha) from 1910 to 1925 to 27,000 acres (11,000 ha) from 1939 to 1948 (Mitchell and Robson 1950 cited in [56]). Based on data from 1985 to 2000, the mean fire-return interval in the jack pine association had increased from 58 to 787 years [25]. Mayfield [81] speculated that before European settlement fires were less frequent but larger in extent and created more Kirtland's warbler wildfire habitat than was available in the mid-1900s.

The Fire Regime Table summarizes characteristics of FIRE REGIMES for vegetation communities in which Kirtland's warblers are likely to occur during the breeding season. Follow the links in the table to documents that provide more detailed information on these FIRE REGIMES.

Wintering habitat: The relative importance of various habitats used by Kirtland's warblers on the wintering grounds is not well understood. However, most habitats likely experience fairly frequent disturbance. The Caribbean pine forests occupied by Kirtland's warblers in The Bahamas experience low-severity surface fires about every 2 to 5 years [29,43]. Mayfield [73] reports fire scars at ground level on Caribbean pines on Grand Bahamas, although he did not consider these habitats widely used. Disturbances such as hurricanes and agricultural practices may play a larger role than fire in broadleaved habitats. There was not enough information to associate Kirtland's warbler with a fire-return interval category in The Bahamas [29].

  • 23. Cayford, J. H. 1971. The role of fire in the ecology and silviculture of jack pine. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1970 August 20-21; Fredericton, NB. No. 10. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 221-244. [18941]
  • 29. Currie, Dave; Wunderle, Joseph M. Jr.; Ewert, David N.; Anderson, Matthew R.; Davis, Ancilleno; Turner, Jasmine. 2005. Habitat distribution of birds wintering in central Andros, The Bahamas: Implications for management. Caribbean Journal of Science. 41(1): 75-87. [75676]
  • 41. Haines, Donald A.; Johnson, Von J.; Main, William A. 1975. Wildfire atlas of the Northeastern and North Central States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-16. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 25 p. [25732]
  • 43. Haney, J. Christopher; Lee, David S.; Walsh-McGehee, Martha. 1998. A quantitative analysis of winter distribution and habitats of Kirtland's warblers in the Bahamas. The Condor. 100(2): 201-217. [75862]
  • 51. Hutto, Richard L.; Conway, Courtney J.; Saab, Victoria A.; Walters, Jeffrey R. 2009. What constitutes a natural fire regime? Insight from the ecology and distribution of coniferous forest birds in North America. Fire Ecology Special Issue. 4(2): 115-132. [74275]
  • 53. Johnson, Edward A. 1992. Fire and vegetation dynamics: Studies from the North American boreal forest. Cambridge Studies in Ecology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 129 p. [19950]
  • 56. Keane, Robert E.; Agee, James K.; Fule, Peter; Keeley, Jon E.; Key, Carl; Kitchen, Stanley G.; Miller, Richard; Schulte, Lisa A. 2008. Ecological effects of large fires on US landscapes: benefit or catastrophe? International Journal of Wildland Fire. 17: 696-712. [73387]
  • 67. Lorimer, Craig G.; Gough, William R. 1988. Frequency of drought and severe fire weather in north-eastern Wisconsin. Journal of Environmental Management. 26: 203-219. [43946]
  • 73. Mayfield, Harold F. 1972. Winter habitat of Kirtland's warbler. The Wilson Bulletin. 84(3): 347-349. [75712]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 108. Simard, Albert J.; Haines, Donald A.; Blank, Richard W.; Frost, John S. 1983. The Mack Lake fire. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-83. East Lansing, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 36 p. [29662]
  • 114. Stocks, Brian J.; Alexander, Martin E. 1980. Forest fire behaviour and effects research in northern Ontario: a field oriented program. In: Martin, Robert E.; Edmonds, Robert L.; Faulkner, Donald A.; Harrington, James B.; Fuquay, Donald M.; Stocks, Brian J.; Barr, Sumner, eds. Proceedings, 6th conference on fire and forest meteorology; 1980 April 22-24; Seattle, WA. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters: 18-24. [10291]
  • 118. Sykes, Paul W., Jr.; Kepler, Cameron B.; Jett, David A.; DeCapita, Michael E. 1989. Kirtland's warblers on the nesting grounds during the post-breeding period. The Wilson Bulletin. 101(4): 545-558. [75745]
  • 127. Van Lear, D. H.; Harlow, R. F. 2002. Fire in the eastern United States: influence on wildlife habitat. In: Ford, W. Mark; Russell, Kevin R.; Moorman, Christopher E., eds. The role of fire in nongame wildlife management and community restoration: traditional uses and new directions: Proceedings of a special workshop; 2000 December 15; Nashville, TN. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-288. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station: 2-10. [41533]
  • 25. Cleland, David T.; Crow, Thomas R.; Saunders, Sari C.; Dickmann, Donald I.; Maclean, Ann L.; Jordan, James K.; Watson, Richard L.; Sloan, Alyssa M.; Brosofske, Kimberley D. 2004. Characterizing historical and modern FIRE REGIMES in Michigan (USA): a landscape ecosystem approach. Landscape Ecology. 19: 311-325. [54326]
  • 48. Huber, Philip. 2009. [Personal communication]. December 2. Regarding Kirtland's warbler Habitat management and fire regime within Kirtland's warblers range. Mio, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forest, Mio Ranger District. On file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [77450]

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Indirect Effects of Fire

More info for the terms: presence, wildfire

Kirtland's warbler habitat is fire dependent, but fire effects vary with fire and site characteristics. Burned and unburned habitats occupied by Kirtland's warblers exhibit some important differences.

There is considerable research on fire, Kirtland's warblers, and their habitat, but readers should be aware of its limitations. As noted by a review [38] summarizing songbird responses to fire in southwestern ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests, studies addressing bird response to fire are generally opportunistic, anecdotal, and/or restricted in spatial or temporal scale. They may also have small sample sizes and/or include confounding factors [38]. Although several studies compare Kirtland's warbler demography between habitats of varying origins, it is not always clear how the sites differed. For instance, comparisons between wildfire and plantation habitat do not always describe details of management, such as type of harvesting or prescribing burning. The presence and potential impact of confounding factors such as comparing large patches of wildfire habitat to smaller plantations were not always addressed. Also, there is potential for overlapping data between studies.

  • 38. Finch, Deborah M.; Ganey, Joseph L.; Yong, Wang; Kimball, Rebecca T.; Sallabanks, Rex. 1997. Effects and interactions of fire, logging, and grazing. In: Block, William M.; Finch, Deborah M., tech. eds. Songbird ecology in southwestern ponderosa pine forests: a literature review. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-GTR-292. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 103-136. [27990]

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Direct Effects of Fire

More info for the term: direct effects of fire

Adult Kirtland's warblers are unlikely to suffer directly from fire. It is generally accepted that large, fast-moving fires may result in mortality, but adult birds typically have the mobility to avoid fire [24,33,68].

Kirtland's warbler nests are likely vulnerable to fires occurring from May to mid-July [128]. Although there were no data directly investigating Kirtland's warbler nest mortality due to fire as of 2010, literature reviews have used fire characteristics and life history of species to speculate on possible effects of fire on nesting success and bird populations [68,104]. Since Kirtland's warblers nest on the ground, low-severity surface fires during the breeding season could result in considerable nest and/or fledgling mortality. Renesting following failed nesting attempts [9,81] (see Reproduction) may mitigate the direct effects of fire on Kirtland's warbler recruitment [68,104]. However, since Kirtland's warblers typically rear only 1 brood per year, fires in the mid- to late-breeding season may have a larger detrimental effect on mortality of Kirtland's warbler nestlings and/or fledglings. Most large jack pine wildfires in northern Lower Michigan occur in late April and early May, before Kirtland's warblers arrive on the breeding grounds (Huber 2009 personal communication [48]). For information regarding seasonality of fires, see FIRE REGIMES.

  • 9. Berger, Andrew J.; Radabaugh, Bruce E. 1968. Returns of Kirtland's warblers to the breeding grounds. Bird-Banding. 39(3): 161-186. [75668]
  • 24. Chandler, Craig; Cheney, Phillip; Thomas, Philip; Trabaud, Louis; Williams, Dave. 1983. Fire in forestry: Vol. I. Forest fire behavior and effects. New York: John Wiley & Sons. 450 p. [12241]
  • 33. Dickson, James G. 2002. Fire and bird communities in the South. In: Ford, W. Mark; Russell, Kevin R.; Moorman, Christopher E., eds. The role of fire in nongame wildlife management and community restoration: traditional uses and new directions: Proceedings of a special workshop; 2000 December 15; Nashville, TN. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-288. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station: 52-57. [41557]
  • 68. Lyon, L. Jack; Telfer, Edmund S.; Schreiner, David Scott. 2000. Direct effects of fire and animal responses. In: Smith, Jane Kapler, ed. Wildland fire in ecosystems: Effects of fire on fauna. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-42-vol. 1. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 17-23. [44435]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 104. Robbins, Louise E.; Myers, Ronald L. 1992. Seasonal effects of prescribed burning in Florida: a review. Misc. Publ. No. 8. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research, Inc. 96 p. [21094]
  • 128. Van Tyne, J. 1953. Kirtland's warbler. In: Bent, Arthur Cleveland. Life histories of North American wood warblers. United States National Museum: Bulletin 203. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution: 417-428. [75866]
  • 48. Huber, Philip. 2009. [Personal communication]. December 2. Regarding Kirtland's warbler Habitat management and fire regime within Kirtland's warblers range. Mio, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forest, Mio Ranger District. On file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [77450]

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Diseases and Sources of Mortality

More info for the term: association

Diseases: No information is available on this topic.

Sources of Mortality: Predation is likely a substantial cause of Kirtland's warbler nest failure. Of 21 nesting attempts on 3 Lower Michigan sites in the 1974 nesting season, 4 (19%) failed due to nest predation [87]. Bergland [10] suggested that the low percentage of eggs that fledge may be due to high predation rates. However, Mayfield suggested that overall, Kirtland's warblers are not more susceptible to predation than similar species and described predators in the habitats occupied by Kirtland's warblers as "rare" [77].

Predators: Kirtland's warbler nest predators include blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata) [75,87,130], common crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) [81,87], thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus), red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) [81,87,130], and garter snakes (Thamnophis sp.) [130]. In addition to these species, Van Tyne [128] includes red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), masked shrews (Sorex cinereus), hawks such as sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter striatus) and Cooper's hawks (A. cooperi), and northern harriers (Circus cyaneus) as potential Kirtland's warbler predators. Biting ants (Formicidae) may be pests of nestlings. At one location in June of 1935, ants in a Kirtland's warbler nest were identified as Crematogaster lineolata [128]. However, Walkinshaw [130] notes that there is no evidence to suggest ants are harmful to Kirtland's warblers.

There is evidence that house cats (Felis catus) have preyed upon adult Kirtland's warblers [117,130].

Other sources of mortality: Hurricanes or other major storms have been suggested as a possible cause of Kirtland's warbler mortality [122,130]. The most extensive investigation of this possibility did not show any general association with storms. Periods of population increase did not correspond to lulls in storm activity, and periods of population decline did not correspond to increased storm activity. However, only 2 of 19 storms occurred during the fall migration period, and both of these occurred during the population decline between 1961 and 1971. Based on these findings, the large area of migratory and wintering habitat, and the extended fall migratory period, the risk of a single storm affecting a substantial portion of the Kirtland's warbler population appears minimal [107].

There is some evidence that winter or spring drought in The Bahamas may increase Kirtland's warbler mortality. From 1971 to 1980, population size on the breeding grounds in June was positively correlated (P<0.05) with rainfall in The Bahamas from November to April. During the population decline between 1961 and 1971, rainfall on the wintering grounds was "generally low" [107]. High mortality of many songbirds was noted in The Bahamas during the spring of 1971, and drought during this period was suggested as the cause [101]. Rainfall may influence overwintering mortality of Kirtland's warblers due to its impact on food availability [107,117]. Although Mayfield [79] acknowledges the potential threat of consecutive dry winters, he suggests that the association between rainfall and breeding population size is weak. Sykes and Clench [117] suggest that drought impacts on wintering Kirtland's warblers would be localized and unlikely to impact the entire wintering population, which encompasses the whole archipelago.

  • 10. Bergland, Mark. 1983. Factors influencing nesting success of Kirtland's warbler. In: Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. Kirtland's warbler: The natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science: 161-183. [76756]
  • 75. Mayfield, Harold F. 1978. Brood parasitism: Reducing interactions between Kirtland's warblers and brown-headed cowbirds. In: Temple, Stanley A., ed. Endangered birds: management techniques for preserving threatened species. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press: 85-91. [75782]
  • 77. Mayfield, Harold F. 1989. Perspective on the Kirtland's warbler. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 1-7. [51028]
  • 79. Mayfield, Harold F. 1993. Kirtland's warblers benefit from large forest tracts. The Wilson Bulletin. 105(2): 351-353. [22270]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 87. Orr, Craig D. 1975. 1974 breeding success of the Kirtland's warbler. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 53(2): 59-66. [75717]
  • 101. Radabaugh, Bruce E. 1974. Kirtland's warbler and its Bahama wintering grounds. The Wilson Bulletin. 86(4): 374-383. [75724]
  • 107. Ryel, Lawrence A. 1981. Population change in the Kirtland's warbler. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 59(3): 76-91. [75733]
  • 117. Sykes, Paul W., Jr.; Clench, Mary H. 1998. Winter habitat of Kirtland's warbler: an endangered nearctic/neotropical migrant. The Wilson Bulletin. 110(2): 244-261. [75743]
  • 122. Trautman, Milton B. 1979. Experiences and thoughts relative to the Kirtland's warbler. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 57(3): 135-140. [75749]
  • 128. Van Tyne, J. 1953. Kirtland's warbler. In: Bent, Arthur Cleveland. Life histories of North American wood warblers. United States National Museum: Bulletin 203. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution: 417-428. [75866]
  • 130. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. 1983. Kirtland's warbler: the natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science. 207 p. [19203]

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Reproductive success

More info for the term: wildfire

Reproductive success: In the absence of brown-headed cowbirds, Kirtland's warblers may have high reproductive rates. Mayfield [81] estimated Kirtland's warbler pairs would fledge an average of 2.2 young each season without brown-headed cowbirds. From 1972 to 1974, 198 Kirtland's warbler pairs fledged 615 nestlings, an average of 3.11 nestlings/pair [130]. Kirtland's warbler pairs raised an average of 3 to 4.75 fledglings on 3 sites in 1974 [87]. From 1973 to 1981 Kirtland's warblers produced an average of 2.76 young/nest/year [57]. Probability of a Kirtland's warbler egg producing a fledgling in the absence of brown-headed cowbirds was estimated at 32% by Mayfield [81] and 33% by Bergland [10], who used a pooled data set that incorporated Mayfield's data.

Reproductive output per male may be greater in suitable habitat than in marginal habitat. Based on data and observations during the 1980s, Probst and Weinrich [98] suggest a reduction in per male productivity of about 25% to 35% in marginal habitat compared to suitable habitat due to reduced pairing success, delayed settlement time, and territory abandonment. In marginal habitat less than 60% of males paired, significantly (P<0.01) fewer than the 95% pairing success of males in suitable habitat [97]. In 1986, 93% of territories in suitable habitat were established by 5 June, while only 52% of territories in marginal habitat were established by then. Territory abandonment by the end of June was 8% in suitable habitat and 19% in marginal habitat. Forty-four percent of the males in marginal habitat were subadults compared with 23% of males in suitable habitat [92]. Although pairing success and fledglings produced per male were lower in plantation than wildfire stands in the early 1990s (see Demography and use), pairing success was not impacted by the stage of stand occupation or the isolation of the stand [13]. A study in the late 1960s and 1970s found high pairing success across several locations within the breeding grounds, with only 4 of 149 males unpaired [130]. Most areas studied were likely suitable Kirtland's warbler habitat.

Female age apparently does not influence clutch size [130] or reproductive output [5]. Based on data from 1931 to 1975, neither the age of the colony, the number of researcher visits to the nest during laying, nor incubation significantly influenced reproductive output [5].

  • 5. Anderson, Walter L.; Storer, Robert W. 1976. Factors influencing Kirtland's warbler nesting success. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 54(3): 105-115. [75667]
  • 10. Bergland, Mark. 1983. Factors influencing nesting success of Kirtland's warbler. In: Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. Kirtland's warbler: The natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science: 161-183. [76756]
  • 13. Bocetti, Carol I. 1994. Density, demography, and mating success of Kirtland's warblers in managed and natural habitats. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University. 140 p. Dissertation. [76482]
  • 57. Kelly, Sean T.; DeCapita, Michael E. 1982. Cowbird control and its effect on Kirtland's warbler reproductive success. The Wilson Bulletin. 94(3): 363-365. [27702]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 87. Orr, Craig D. 1975. 1974 breeding success of the Kirtland's warbler. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 53(2): 59-66. [75717]
  • 97. Probst, John R.; Hayes, Jack P. 1987. Pairing success of Kirtland's warblers in marginal vs. suitable habitat. The Auk. 104(2): 234-241. [75720]
  • 98. Probst, John R.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1989. Predicting Kirtland's warbler populations by habitat conditions. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 61-62. [51054]
  • 130. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. 1983. Kirtland's warbler: the natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science. 207 p. [19203]
  • 92. Probst, John R. 1988. Kirtland's warbler breeding biology and Habitat management. In: Hoekstra, Thomas W.; Capp, Jack, compilers. Integrating forest management for wildlife and fish. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-122. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 28-35. [76264]

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Fire Regime Table

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Brown-headed cowbird parasitism

Brown-headed cowbird parasitism: In the absence of brown-headed cowbird control, parasitism on Kirtland's warbler nests is high and reduces Kirtland's warbler reproductive success. From data collected in the 1940s and 1950s, Mayfield [81] estimated that brown-headed cowbirds parasitized about 55% of nests and reduced fledgling production by 60%. From 1966 to 1971, 69% of Kirtland's warbler nests at one site were parasitized. In the first 3 years following brown-headed cowbird control, from 1972 to 1974, only 7% nests at this site were parasitized [131]. From 1975 to 1981 parasitism rates averaged 3.4% and ranged from 0% to 9% [57]. Kirtland's warbler clutch sizes were smaller before brown-headed cowbird control was implemented than after, with an average clutch size of 2.34 eggs from 1966 to 1971 and an average clutch size of 4.36 eggs from 1972 to 1974 [131]. The table below shows increased fledgling production on sites with cowbird control compared to those without cowbird control. From 1931 to 1975 nests with 2 or more brown-headed cowbird eggs produced an average of <0.5 Kirtland's warbler fledgling/nest [5]. Orr [87] suggested that 2nd broods may be more susceptible to parasitism, because fewer nests are available and brown-headed cowbirds still occurring in breeding areas are likely trap shy. See Brown-headed cowbird control for management-related information.

Fledgling production on sites with and without brown-headed cowbird control*
With control Without control Significance level
2.46 0.8 not tested [131]
2.28 1.11 P<0.001 [5]
2.55 1.20 P<0.05 [10]
*All 3 studies used shared data.
  • 5. Anderson, Walter L.; Storer, Robert W. 1976. Factors influencing Kirtland's warbler nesting success. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 54(3): 105-115. [75667]
  • 10. Bergland, Mark. 1983. Factors influencing nesting success of Kirtland's warbler. In: Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. Kirtland's warbler: The natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science: 161-183. [76756]
  • 57. Kelly, Sean T.; DeCapita, Michael E. 1982. Cowbird control and its effect on Kirtland's warbler reproductive success. The Wilson Bulletin. 94(3): 363-365. [27702]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 87. Orr, Craig D. 1975. 1974 breeding success of the Kirtland's warbler. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 53(2): 59-66. [75717]
  • 131. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H.; Faust, Warren R. 1975. 1974 Kirtland's warbler nesting success in northern Crawford County, Michigan. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 53(2): 54-58. [75754]

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Life History

Kirtland's warblers are ground-nesting neotropical migrants. They leave the Great Lakes Region for wintering grounds in The Bahamas in August and September and return in May. During the breeding season male Kirtland's warblers defend territories that are clustered into colonies [80,91,137]. Dispersal to new colonies is most common when individuals are settling on their first territory [130]. Based on birds banded at ≥1 year old, the average lifespan is 2.76 years for males and 1.74 years for females. The estimate of female lifespan is likely biased low due difficulty in detecting females [9,130]. The maximum recorded age of a Kirtland's warbler is 9 years [60], although a review cites unpublished data for an individual that was 10 years old [116]. Kirtland's warblers breed in May and June [81,130] and generally fledge one brood each season [100,130]. They have potential for high reproductive output [87,130], although reproduction was greatly reduced by brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) parasitism before implementation of brown-headed cowbird control in the early 1970s [131]. Unless otherwise noted, data reported below are from breeding sites in the core range of the Kirtland's warbler in northern Lower Michigan.
  • 9. Berger, Andrew J.; Radabaugh, Bruce E. 1968. Returns of Kirtland's warblers to the breeding grounds. Bird-Banding. 39(3): 161-186. [75668]
  • 60. Klimkiewicz, M. Kathleen; Clapp, Roger B.; Futcher, Anthony G. 1983. Longevity records of North American birds: Remizidae through Parulinae. Journal of Field Ornithology. 54(3): 287-294. [75701]
  • 80. Mayfield, Harold. 1953. A census of the Kirtland's warbler. The Auk. 70(1): 17-20. [75714]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 87. Orr, Craig D. 1975. 1974 breeding success of the Kirtland's warbler. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 53(2): 59-66. [75717]
  • 91. Probst, John R. 1986. A review of factors limiting the Kirtland's warbler on its breeding grounds. The American Midland Naturalist. 116(1): 87-100. [75719]
  • 100. Radabaugh, Bruce E. 1972. Double-broodedness in the Kirtland's warbler. Bird-Banding. 43(1): 55-55. [75723]
  • 116. Sykes, Paul W., Jr. 1997. Rare, local, little-known, and declining North American breeders--a closer look: Kirtland's warbler. Birding. 29(3): 220-227. [75744]
  • 130. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. 1983. Kirtland's warbler: the natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science. 207 p. [19203]
  • 131. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H.; Faust, Warren R. 1975. 1974 Kirtland's warbler nesting success in northern Crawford County, Michigan. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 53(2): 54-58. [75754]
  • 137. Zou, Xiaoming; Theiss, Corinna; Barnes, Burton V. 1992. Pattern of Kirtland's warbler occurrence in relation to the landscape structure of its summer habitat in northern Lower Michigan. Landscape Ecology. 6(4): 221-231. [19211]

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Cover Requirements: Soil

Soil: Kirtland's warbler breeding colonies occur in areas with sandy, acidic soils that are permeable. Nests often occur on sites with Grayling sand [54,81,130] that has an 0.8- to 1.6-inch (2-4 cm) thick humus layer [82], is acidic [81,130], and dry, loose, and permeable to 3 to 7 feet (1-3 m) below ground [82]. Nests have also been found in Rubicon sand [82], Graycalm sand [54,137], and Montcalm coarse loam [137]. Occurrence of Kirtland's warblers in Wisconsin may be most likely on similar soils, such as Vilas, Omega, and Hiawatha sands and Plainfield loamy sands [45]. The Mack Lake ecosystem with the greatest abundance of Kirtland's warblers in 1987 and 1988 had Grayling and Rubicon soils with a pH of 5.0. During this period, Kirtland's warbler abundance was lower in areas with more finely-textured soils or pH of 6.1 or higher [137]. Soil pH was 4.1 and 4.4 on 2 sites in habitat that developed after the Bald Hill Fire [54]. Kirtland's warblers are commonly associated with glacial outwash plains [2,7,45,54]. Soils that do not hold surface water are critical for nests placed just below ground level [81].
  • 2. Albert, Dennis A. 1995. Regional landscape ecosystems of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin: a working map classification--4th revision: July 1994. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-178. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 250 p. [27980]
  • 7. Barnes, Burton V. 1996. Silviculture, landscape ecosystems, and the Iron Law of the Site. Forstarchiv. 67(3): 226-235. [75765]
  • 45. Hoffman, Randy. 1989. History of Kirtland's warbler found in Wisconsin. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 29-31. [19205]
  • 54. Kashian, Daniel M.; Barnes, Burton V. 2000. Landscape influence on the spatial and temporal distribution of the Kirtland's warbler at the Bald Hill burn, northern Lower Michigan, U.S.A. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 30: 1895-1904. [38800]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 82. Mayfield, Harold. 1962. 1961 decennial census of the Kirtland's warbler. The Auk. 79(2): 173-182. [75713]
  • 130. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. 1983. Kirtland's warbler: the natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science. 207 p. [19203]
  • 137. Zou, Xiaoming; Theiss, Corinna; Barnes, Burton V. 1992. Pattern of Kirtland's warbler occurrence in relation to the landscape structure of its summer habitat in northern Lower Michigan. Landscape Ecology. 6(4): 221-231. [19211]

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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
108 months.

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Survival

Survival: Although preliminary and in some cases speculative, survival estimates for Kirtland's warbler adults are greater than those of younger birds. Estimates of annual adult survival range from about 60% [81] up to 75% [91]. Preliminary analysis of unpublished banding data (Keplar and Sykes cited in [58]) collected from 1988 to 1991 led to an annual adult survival estimate of 70%. Bergland [10] estimated annual adult male survival was greater than female survival (66.1% vs. 45.8%). However, the female survival estimate was probably underestimated due to difficulty in detecting females. Estimates of Kirtland's warbler survival in their first year range from 27% to 35%. Preliminary analysis of unpublished banding data (Keplar and Sykes cited in [58]) led to an estimate of 27% for annual yearling Kirtland's warbler survival. Bergland [10] hypothesized that annual survival rate of yearling birds was about 30% [10]. Ryel [106] backcalculated survival of yearling birds as 35%. Survival during the approximately 2- to 3-month period from fledging to autumn migration was 65% to 82%, based on an estimate that was derived from available literature [91].

Estimates of rate of return of yearling birds from the wintering grounds apparently vary with duration of parental care. Based on the available literature, Probst [91] estimated that 28% of yearling birds return to breed. First-brood Kirtland's warblers that were cared for by their parents for 38 to 40 days had greater survival rates than those nurtured for shorter periods. Young from 2nd broods apparently have very low return rates. Only 1 of 69 2nd-brood nestlings had been resighted through the early 1980s compared to 40 of 377 1st-brood nestlings [130].

 
  • 10. Bergland, Mark. 1983. Factors influencing nesting success of Kirtland's warbler. In: Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. Kirtland's warbler: The natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science: 161-183. [76756]
  • 58. Kepler, Cameron B.; Irvine, G. William; DeCapita, Michael E.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1996. The conservation management of Kirtland's warbler, Dendroica kirtlandii. Bird Conservation International. 6(1): 11-22. [75698]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 91. Probst, John R. 1986. A review of factors limiting the Kirtland's warbler on its breeding grounds. The American Midland Naturalist. 116(1): 87-100. [75719]
  • 106. Ryel, L. A. 1979. On the population dynamics of Kirtland's warbler. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 57(2): 76-83. [75731]
  • 130. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. 1983. Kirtland's warbler: the natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science. 207 p. [19203]

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Lifespan/Longevity

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
108 months.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 9 years (wild) Observations: Even though sexual maturity may occur earlier, first breeding generally only takes place at age 1. In the wild, these animals live about 2 years (http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/).
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Reproduction

Males singing ends in early July. Eggs are laid in late May-June (also July for renestings; few after 25 June). Clutch size is 3-5. Incubation lasts 13-15 days, by female. Young are tended by both parents, leave nest at 8-12 days (beginning in mid-June). Common host for brown-headed cowbird, which reduces nesting success. Commonly nests in loose groups of 2-30 pairs separated by substantial distances of similar unoccupied habitat.

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Nests are constructed in late May, followed by the laying of eggs in late May to mid-June. The number of eggs per clutch ranges from 3 to 6. In the rare event that a pair has a second clutch, fewer eggs will be laid than in the first. The female incubates the eggs for approximately 14 days before hatching occurs. During the incubation period, defense and care of the nest are predominantly the responsibilty of the female; however, the male will bring food to her. After the eggs hatch, both parents tend to the needs of the altricial young. The young gain weight rapidly during the first five days after hatching, doubling their weight every two days. During the last three days in the nest, their growth rate decreases and their energy is directed towards providing their own body warmth, plumage development,and heightened physical activity. The young leave the nest 9-10 days after hatching. During the fledging period, the brood is divided in half, each parent taking care of select offspring. The post juvenile molt occurs approximately one month after fledging.

Average time to hatching: 14 days.

Average eggs per season: 5.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)

Sex: male:
365 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)

Sex: female:
365 days.

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More info for the terms: association, duff, polygyny

Reproduction:

Ron Austing, USDA Forest Service Find-a-Photo

Kirtland's warblers form pairs from 20 to 30 May [130]. Clutches of 4 or 5 eggs [87,128,130] are laid in nests buried 1.1 to 1.6 inches (2.9-4.1 cm) deep in duff [112]. A detailed description of nest dimensions and materials is provided by Southern [112]; nest-building activities of the female are described by Van Tyne [128]. Eggs are incubated for 13 to 16 days. Nestlings fledge 8 to 12 days after hatching and are typically fed for 29 to 44 days [81,130]. Kirtland's warblers observed in the 1930s and 1940s typically hatched from 11 June to 20 June [128]. Males assist with all stages of the nesting cycle, including feeding the female during incubation and feeding the nestlings and fledglings [81,130]. Pairs occasionally mate in 2 successive summers [9,130]. Kirtland's warblers renest 5 to 6 days following failed nesting attempts [81]. Based on Mayfield's [81] and Berger and Radabaugh's [9] observations, the average interval between successive nesting attempts was 6.75 days. Kirtland's warblers typically reach reproductive maturity in the breeding season following hatching [9,116,130]. For information on breeding behaviors such as territory defense and parental care, see Walkinshaw [130] and/or Mayfield [81]. A 1992 review [78] summarizes these and many other Kirtland's warbler behaviors.

Several authors have observed Kirtland's warbler pairs raising 2 broods in a summer [9,87,100,130]. Of 163 pairs observed in the late 1960s and 1970s, 12 (7.4%) raised 2 broods in a breeding season [130]. Radabaugh [100] observed 7 double-brood attempts from 1963 to 1971 in Oscoda County. Although most females did not attempt a 2nd brood, he suggested that double brooding was most likely when the 1st brood fledged before the end of June and males fed the 1st-brood fledglings often [100]. Of 3 double-brood attempts observed by Orr [87], 1 was successful, with 35 days between successive fledging dates. Of 163 pairs, no female laid more than 2 clutches in one summer [130].

Males occasionally pair with 2 females [97,130]. Of 163 pairs observed in the late 1960s and 1970s, 4 males mated with 2 females each. Six of the 8 females successfully reproduced and none attempted a 2nd brood [130]. Bocetti [13] observed polyterritorial males and spatially and temporally widespread polygyny. Probst [97] suggested that females may choose a paired male in high-quality habitat over a solitary male in marginal habitat. However, there was no apparent association between polygyny and availability of suitable habitat based on only 5 years of data with relatively small changes in available habitat [13].

Few data are available on Kirtland's warbler adult sex ratios [97,106]. Data from 5 breeding-ground sites from 16 August to 10 September of 1984 to 1987 showed a male-biased sex ratio of 1.4 males to 1 female, although this was not statistically significant. Differences in capture rates between the sexes may have influenced the results [118]. Mayfield [81] noted a surplus of males was possible based on observations of unpaired males in the 1950s. In contrast, Ryel [106] suggested cases of polygyny may indicate a female-biased sex ratio. An unequal sex ratio could have substantial impacts on reproductive output [106,118].

  • 9. Berger, Andrew J.; Radabaugh, Bruce E. 1968. Returns of Kirtland's warblers to the breeding grounds. Bird-Banding. 39(3): 161-186. [75668]
  • 13. Bocetti, Carol I. 1994. Density, demography, and mating success of Kirtland's warblers in managed and natural habitats. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University. 140 p. Dissertation. [76482]
  • 78. Mayfield, Harold F. 1992. Kirtland's warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii). In: Poole, A.; Stettenheim, P.; Gill, G., eds. The birds of North America. No. 19. Philadelphia, PA: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, DC: The American Ornithologists' Union. 16 p. [78003]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 87. Orr, Craig D. 1975. 1974 breeding success of the Kirtland's warbler. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 53(2): 59-66. [75717]
  • 97. Probst, John R.; Hayes, Jack P. 1987. Pairing success of Kirtland's warblers in marginal vs. suitable habitat. The Auk. 104(2): 234-241. [75720]
  • 100. Radabaugh, Bruce E. 1972. Double-broodedness in the Kirtland's warbler. Bird-Banding. 43(1): 55-55. [75723]
  • 106. Ryel, L. A. 1979. On the population dynamics of Kirtland's warbler. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 57(2): 76-83. [75731]
  • 112. Southern, William E. 1961. A botanical analysis of Kirtland's warbler nests. The Wilson Bulletin. 73(2): 148-154. [75741]
  • 116. Sykes, Paul W., Jr. 1997. Rare, local, little-known, and declining North American breeders--a closer look: Kirtland's warbler. Birding. 29(3): 220-227. [75744]
  • 118. Sykes, Paul W., Jr.; Kepler, Cameron B.; Jett, David A.; DeCapita, Michael E. 1989. Kirtland's warblers on the nesting grounds during the post-breeding period. The Wilson Bulletin. 101(4): 545-558. [75745]
  • 128. Van Tyne, J. 1953. Kirtland's warbler. In: Bent, Arthur Cleveland. Life histories of North American wood warblers. United States National Museum: Bulletin 203. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution: 417-428. [75866]
  • 130. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. 1983. Kirtland's warbler: the natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science. 207 p. [19203]

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Nests are constructed in late May, followed by the laying of eggs in late May to mid-June. The number of eggs per clutch ranges from 3 to 6. In the rare event that a pair has a second clutch, fewer eggs will be laid than in the first. The female incubates the eggs for approximately 14 days before hatching occurs. During the incubation period, defense and care of the nest are predominantly the responsibilty of the female; however, the male will bring food to her. After the eggs hatch, both parents tend to the needs of the altricial young. The young gain weight rapidly during the first five days after hatching, doubling their weight every two days. During the last three days in the nest, their growth rate decreases and their energy is directed towards providing their own body warmth, plumage development,and heightened physical activity. The young leave the nest 9-10 days after hatching. During the fledging period, the brood is divided in half, each parent taking care of select offspring. The post juvenile molt occurs approximately one month after fledging.

Average time to hatching: 14 days.

Average eggs per season: 5.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)

Sex: male:
365 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)

Sex: female:
365 days.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Dendroica kirtlandii

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 3 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

AACCGATGATTATTCTCAACCAACCACAAAGACATCGGGACCCTATACCTAATCTTCGGCGCATGAGCCGGAATAGTGGGTACCGCCCTA---AGCCTCCTCATTCGAGCAGAACTAGGCCAACCCGGAGCCCTTCTGGGAGAC---GACCAAGTCTACAATGTAGTTGTCACGGCCCATGCCTTCGTAATAATTTTCTTTATAGTTATGCCGATTATAATCGGAGGATTCGGAAACTGACTAGTCCCCCTAATA---ATCGGAGCCCCAGACATAGCATTCCCACGAATAAACAACATAAGCTTCTGACTACTCCCACCATCATTCCTTCTCCTCCTAGCATCATCCACAGTTGAAGCAGGTGTAGGTACAGGCTGAACAGTGTACCCTCCACTAGCTGGCAACTTAGCCCACGCCGGAGCCTCAGTCGACCTT---GCAATCTTTTCTCTACATCTGGCCGGTATTTCCTCAATCCTAGGGGCAATCAACTTCATTACAACAGCAATTAACATGAAACCTCCTGCCCTCTCACAATACCAAACCCCACTATTTGTCTGATCGGTCCTAATCACTGCAGTCCTCCTACTCCTTTCCCTCCCAGTCCTAGCTGCA---GGGATCACAATGCTCCTTACAGACCGCAACCTCAACACCACATTCTTCGACCCAGCTGGAGGAGGAGATCCCGTCCTATATCAACATCTCTTCTGATTCTTCGGTCATCCAGAAGTCTACATCCTAATCCTCCCAGGATTCGGAATCATCTCTCACGTCGTAACATACTACTCAGGCAAAAAA---GAACCATTCGGTTACATAGGAATGGTATGAGCCATGCTATCTATCGGATTCCTAGGCTTTATTGTCTGAGCCCACCACATATTTACAGTAGGAATGGACGTTGACACCCGAGCTTACTTTACATCAGCCACTATAATCATCGCTATCCCAACCGGAATCAAAGTATTTAGCTGACTA---GCCACACTCCACGGAGGA---ACAATTAAATGAGACCCCCCAATACTATGAGCCCTGGGATTCATCTTCCTATTCACCATTGGAGGTTTAACAGGTATCGTCCTAGCAAACTCTTCACTGGACGTTGCCCTACACGACACCTATTATGTAGTAGCCCACTTCCACTACGTA---CTATCCATAGGAGCAGTATTTGCAATCTTAGCGGGCTTTACCCACTGATTCCCCCTATTCACTGGTTACACCCTCCACTCAACATGAGCCAAAGCACACTTTGGCGTAATATTCGTAGGTGTAAACTTAACCTTCTTCCCCCAACACTTCCTAGGCCTAGCTGGCATGCCGCGA---CGATACTCAGATTACCCAGACGCCTACACA---CTATGAAACACCATCTCCTCTGTAGGTTCACTCATCTCGCTAACAGCTGTAATCATACTAGTATTCATTATCTGAGAAGCCTTCGCATCAAAACGTAAAGTA---CTACAGCCGGAACTAACCAGCACTAAT
-- end --

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Dendroica kirtlandii

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N1B - Critically Imperiled

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N3B - Vulnerable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G3 - Vulnerable

Reasons: Breeding is limited mainly to a limited area in Michigan, with much smaller areas in Wisconsin and Ontario; since 1990, population has steadily increased and reached a record high of more than 2,000 singing males in 2012. Species depends on sustained active management to maintain habitat and reduce impact of brown-headed cowbird. To this end, in 2011, the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Michigan Department of Natural Resources signed a memorandum of agreement pledging to continue conservation efforts for the endangered Kirtland's warbler regardless of the warbler's status under the Endangered Species Act. However, the species' survival is "still dependent on management actions that have not yet been assured throughout the foreseeable future" (USFWS 2012). On the other hand, ongoing favorable management is not expected to cease in the foreseeable future.

Other Considerations: An independent conservation assessment by BirdLife International in 2012 categorized this species as Near Threatened (as opposed to Vulnerable, Endangered, Critically Endangered, or Least Concern).

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
NT
Near Threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Ewert, D., Hilton, G. & Rustem, R.

Justification
Since 1987, conservation action has successfully increased the population of this species. Numbers exceeded 500 singing males in 1994 following doubling of suitably aged habitat between 1987 and 1990. Numbers continue to increase, but its population and range remain small, hence its classification as Near Threatened.

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Current Listing Status Summary

Status: Endangered
Date Listed: 03/11/1967
Lead Region:   Great Lakes-Big Rivers Region (Region 3) 
Where Listed: Entire


Population detail:

Population location: Entire
Listing status: E

For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Dendroica kirtlandii , see its USFWS Species Profile

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The Kirtland's Warbler has been the focus of much attention over the last 25 years because of its rarity and need for a very specific habitat. Natural forest fires were the original providers of such habitat, but the advance of white settlers resulted in the clearing of much of Michigan's natural forests. At first, the warbler benefited from such clearing; however, so did the Brown-Headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater). The Cowbird had a major impact on the warbler as a nest parasite. Cowbirds lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and leave the rearing of their young to these hosts. Cowbird young usually develop much faster than the young of the host species and are thus able to out-compete the hosts' young for food resources. Many of the hosts' young die as a result. Recognition of the effects of this phenomena on the Kirtland's Warbler in the early 1970's lead to a program of killing Cowbirds in the warbler's range. This program, coupled with the management of breeding grounds by way of controlled burns, has significantly aided the warbler. However, the Kirtland's Warbler seems to be faced with other problems that effect it during migration or during its time in the Bahamas. As a result, the breeding population in Michigan has not changed significantly recently from spring to spring.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: endangered

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: endangered

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More info for the term: natural

Information on state- and province-level protection status of animals in the United States and Canada is available at NatureServe, although recent changes in status may not be included.

An extensive history of Kirtland's warbler population fluctuations is available. Relative ease of collecting Kirtland's warblers on their wintering grounds in the late 1800s [75,80,101], more collections of migrants [74], and greater habitat availability during that period [56,74,81] suggest they were comparatively common at that time. In 1953 the first census estimated the male Kirtland's warbler population at about 432 [80]. The population declined from an estimated 502 males in 1961 [82] to 201 males in 1971 [72]. From 1971 to 1987, breeding-season estimates of Kirtland's warbler's population size stabilized at an average of 206 males [99]. The population began rebounding in the early 1990s [94,99,133]. The population reached the Recovery Team target of 1,000 singing male Kirtland's warblers [58] in 2001 [27]. According to a Michigan Department of Natural Resources press release, in 2008 there were an estimated 1,791 males in Upper and Lower Michigan [69], and in 2009 the census documented 1,795 singing males (Huber 2009 personal communication [48]). The number of Kirtland's warblers counted on the wintering grounds started increasing in about 2002 [28]. See DeCapita [31] and Solomon [110] for histories of Kirtland's warbler population trends through the mid-1990s, and Probst and others [94] for a comparison of census methods. For a discussion of causes of the population decline in the 1960s and increase in the 1990s, see Factors influencing population size.

  • 28. Currie, Dave; Wunderle, Joe; Ewert, Dave; Carey, Eric. 2003. The most elusive bird in the Bahamas? Getting to grips with wintering Kirtland's warblers. World Birdwatch. 25(4): 13-15. [75675]
  • 31. DeCapita, Michael E. 2000. Brown-headed cowbird control on Kirtland's warbler nesting areas in Michigan, 1972-1995. In: Smith, James N.; Cook, Terry L.; Rothstein, Stephen I.; Robinson, Scott K.; Sealy, Spencer G., eds. Ecology and management of cowbirds and their hosts. Studies in the Conservation of North American Passerine Birds. Austin, TX: The University of Texas Press: 333-341. [75678]
  • 56. Keane, Robert E.; Agee, James K.; Fule, Peter; Keeley, Jon E.; Key, Carl; Kitchen, Stanley G.; Miller, Richard; Schulte, Lisa A. 2008. Ecological effects of large fires on US landscapes: benefit or catastrophe? International Journal of Wildland Fire. 17: 696-712. [73387]
  • 58. Kepler, Cameron B.; Irvine, G. William; DeCapita, Michael E.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1996. The conservation management of Kirtland's warbler, Dendroica kirtlandii. Bird Conservation International. 6(1): 11-22. [75698]
  • 72. Mayfield, Harold F. 1972. Third decennial census of Kirtland's warbler. The Auk. 89(2): 263-268. [75710]
  • 74. Mayfield, Harold F. 1975. The numbers of Kirtlands's warblers. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 53(2): 39-47. [24989]
  • 75. Mayfield, Harold F. 1978. Brood parasitism: Reducing interactions between Kirtland's warblers and brown-headed cowbirds. In: Temple, Stanley A., ed. Endangered birds: management techniques for preserving threatened species. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press: 85-91. [75782]
  • 80. Mayfield, Harold. 1953. A census of the Kirtland's warbler. The Auk. 70(1): 17-20. [75714]
  • 81. Mayfield, Harold. 1960. The Kirtland's warbler. Bulletin 40. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science. 242 p. [16778]
  • 82. Mayfield, Harold. 1962. 1961 decennial census of the Kirtland's warbler. The Auk. 79(2): 173-182. [75713]
  • 94. Probst, John R.; Donner, Deahn M.; Worland, Mike; Weinrich, Jerry; Huber, Phillip; Ennis, Kenneth R. 2005. Comparing census methods for the endangered Kirtland's warbler. Journal of Field Ornithology. 76(1): 50-60. [75865]
  • 99. Probst, John R.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1993. Relating Kirtland's warbler population to changing landscape composition and structure. Landscape Ecology. 8(4): 257-271. [23629]
  • 101. Radabaugh, Bruce E. 1974. Kirtland's warbler and its Bahama wintering grounds. The Wilson Bulletin. 86(4): 374-383. [75724]
  • 110. Solomon, Barry D. 1998. Impending recovery of Kirtland's warbler: case study of the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act. Environmental Management. 22(1): 9-17. [75739]
  • 133. Weise, Thomas. 1991. Around the states: Michigan. Ecology USA. 20(15): 147. [16688]
  • 27. Committe on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. 2008. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Kirtland's warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii), in Canada--Endangered 2008, [Online]. In: Species at risk public registry--COSEWIC status reports. Ottawa: Environment Canada, Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (Producer). Available: http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/virtual_sara/files/cosewic/sr%5Fkirtland%5Fwarbler%5F0808%5Fe%2Epdf [2010, January 4]. [75949]
  • 48. Huber, Philip. 2009. [Personal communication]. December 2. Regarding Kirtland's warbler Habitat management and fire regime within Kirtland's warblers range. Mio, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forest, Mio Ranger District. On file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [77450]
  • 69. MacKinnon, Sherry. 2008. Michigan's 2008 Kirtland's warbler population reaches another record high, [Online]. In: Press Releases--September 29, 2008. Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of Natural Resources (Producer). Available: http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10371_10402-200899--,00.html [2009, November 11]. [76984]

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U.S. Federal Legal Status

Endangered [126]
  • 126. U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 2013. Endangered Species Program, [Online]. Available: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/. [86564]

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The Kirtland's Warbler has been the focus of much attention over the last 25 years because of its rarity and need for a very specific habitat. Natural forest fires were the original providers of such habitat, but the advance of white settlers resulted in the clearing of much of Michigan's natural forests. At first, the warbler benefited from such clearing; however, so did the Brown-Headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater). The Cowbird had a major impact on the warbler as a nest parasite. Cowbirds lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and leave the rearing of their young to these hosts. Cowbird young usually develop much faster than the young of the host species and are thus able to out-compete the hosts' young for food resources. Many of the hosts' young die as a result. Recognition of the effects of this phenomena on the Kirtland's Warbler in the early 1970's lead to a program of killing Cowbirds in the warbler's range. This program, coupled with the management of breeding grounds by way of controlled burns, has significantly aided the warbler. However, the Kirtland's Warbler seems to be faced with other problems that effect it during migration or during its time in the Bahamas. As a result, the breeding population in Michigan has not changed significantly recently from spring to spring.

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: endangered

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: endangered

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened

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Status

Kirtland's warbler is classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1) and is listed on Appendix I of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS or Bonn Convention) (3).
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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable to increase of >25%

Comments: As of 2012, the population had steadily increased over the past 10 years or three generations; 1.050 singing males were detected in 2002 whereas 2,090 were found in 2012 (USFWS, Midwest Region Endangered Species). This trend is a result of ongoing management. For example, more than 75 percent of the current extent of suitable breeding habitat in northern Lower Michigan was generated from planted stands and contains 85 percent of all singing males (USFWS 2012).

For the purpose of rank calculation, the short-term trend was coded as relatively stable to increasing (instead of simply increasing at maximal rate) because eventually the rate of increase should more or less stabilize or diminish, even with continued favorable management. The maximal coded rate of increase (>25%) is not here regarded as the best or appropriate indication of the population trajectory.

Global Long Term Trend: Unknown

Comments: The number of singing males recorded during annual surveys increased steadily between 1990 and 2012, due primarily to habitat management actions.

The number of singing males was around 500 in the 1950s and 1960s (limited data), about 200-250 in the 1970s and 1980s, and reached a record-high of 2,090 in 2012.

Population size prior to extensive human settlement in the species' range is unknown, so trend over the past 200 years cannot be precisely determined. Extensive fires and logging occurred in the breeding range of the species in the 1800s, and population apparently increased for a period thereafter (Mayfield 1992). Subsequently a substantial decline in available habitat and warbler population size occurred through the mid-1900s. Probably the trend prior to human settlement was erratic, depending on the occurrence of major forest fires.

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Population

Population
The population size continues to increase, with latest estimates putting it around 3,500 individuals, roughly equivalent to 2,300-2,400 mature individuals.

Population Trend
Increasing
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Threats

Degree of Threat: Medium - low

Comments: For many years Kirtland's warbler was detrimentally affected by habitat loss and degradation due to a reduction in fires and forestry practices (replacement of jack pines with red pines or hardwoods). The species requires a highly specialized and successionally transitory nesting habitat. Forest fires maintained this habitat. Human prevention and control of forest fires and alternate land uses decreased the amount of already scarce habitat (Mayfield 1992). Due to previous problems with prescribed burns and the proximity of private property, there was not an adequate amount of habitat created in the past. Management actions have essentially eliminated this threat by creating a favorable extent of productive nesting habitat on a sustained basis, based mainly on cutting and planting of jack pine.

Currently, the nesting range is large enough such that a major fire likely would not affect most of the habitat or cause a major decline in the population..

The wintering habitats appear to be secure, at least for the present time (Mayfield 1992, 1996; USFWS 2012). In the late 1990s, a partnership including U.S. and Bahamas agencies and NGOs was formed to identify and protect habitats within the Bahamas that are used by wintering songbirds, including the Kirtland's warbler. Protection includes the development of pine islands and controlling the impact of feral cats. However, despite this.little of the land in the Bahamas that is suitable for wintering Kirtland's warblers is actually protected (USFWS 2012).

Sea level rise associated with climate change could reduce the extent of available habitat in the Bahamas, where most of the land is not more than 1 meter above sea level (USFWS 2012). Also, an ongoing trend toward drier winters in the Bahamas may negatively affect Kirtland's warbler populations (see USFWS 2012).

Brood parasitism by the brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater), which moved into northern Michigan with forest clearing and agricultural expansion, formerly posed a serious threat. In the presence of cowbirds, about 1/3 of all nests are abandoned (in their absence only 1/10 are deserted). Cowbirds remove eggs and kill warbler nestlings (Mayfield 1992). Ongoing trapping of cowbirds in warbler nesting areas has substantially reduced the impact of cowbirds and resulted in much improved warbler reproductive success.

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Major Threats
If scrub is the preferred winter habitat, key threats are fire suppression and brood-parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds Molothrus ater in Michigan (Sykes and Clench 1998). If Caribbean pine is preferred, habitat loss on the wintering ground is probably more important. The latter is considered likely because of the species's failure to occupy all breeding habitat, and changes in population have occurred contemporaneously with the degradation and recovery of the north Bahamas pine ecosystem (Haney et al. 1998). Recently however the fourfold population increase between 1990 and 2000, coincident with a tripling of the available habitat through management, would appear to indicate that currently population levels are closely linked to habitat availability (Probst et al. 2003). Consequentially, the current breeding range is too large for fire to affect the whole population rapidly.
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Potential detrimental impacts of fire in Kirtland's warbler habitat

More info for the term: severity

Potential detrimental impacts of fire on Kirtland's warbler habitat
: Fires may threaten existing and developing Kirtland's warbler habitat. Fires in occupied areas reduce the amount of currently available habitat [131,135]. A fire of unreported severity burned through existing habitat within the Bald Hill Burn in May of 1990. During the 1990 breeding season few Kirtland's warbler males were documented in the area, but the following year—16 years after the Bald Hill Fire—the Kirtland's warbler colony in this habitat reached its peak occupancy of 36 males. The fire also expedited the shift of Kirtland's warblers from high- to low-elevation habitat [54]. In 1967, a May fire burned a portion of an area burned 7 years earlier in the Artillery Range Fire. Some of the area within the 2nd burn had poor jack pine regeneration [131]. Since jack pine seed production is considerable by 6 to 8 years of age, the impacts of fires within stands older than this are likely smaller than impacts of fires within younger habitat [37]. In some instances, fires in suitable habitat with appropriate timing may lengthen the duration of Kirtland's warbler occupancy [131]. Although multiple and/or large fires burning through unoccupied Kirtland's warbler management areas over a short time would likely create Kirtland's warbler habitat in the intermediate term, they could reduce amounts of jack pine becoming suitable for Kirtland's warbler in the long term [135]. Huber and others [47] recommend adjusting the habitat development schedule following wildfires to "ensure a sustained supply of occupiable habitat over the long term".
  • 37. Eyre, F. H.; LeBarron, Russell K. 1944. Management of jack pine stands in the Lake States. Tech. Bull. No. 863. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 66 p. [11643]
  • 54. Kashian, Daniel M.; Barnes, Burton V. 2000. Landscape influence on the spatial and temporal distribution of the Kirtland's warbler at the Bald Hill burn, northern Lower Michigan, U.S.A. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 30: 1895-1904. [38800]
  • 131. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H.; Faust, Warren R. 1975. 1974 Kirtland's warbler nesting success in northern Crawford County, Michigan. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 53(2): 54-58. [75754]
  • 135. Wilson, Ronald L. 1989. Fire and fire effects--its impact on forest vegetation for Kirtland's warbler habitat. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 57-60. [19208]
  • 47. Huber, Philip W.; Weinrich, Jerry A.; Carlson, Elaine S. 2001. Strategy for Kirtland's warbler Habitat management. Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Milwaukee, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Eastern Region; Fort Snelling, MN: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Midwest Region. 27 p. [78002]

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Management Considerations: Threats

More info for the terms: cover, fire regime, natural

Threats: A major hurdle to Kirtland's warbler recovery is the financial cost of continued management. Given the limited period that breeding habitat is suitable and the ongoing threat from brown-headed cowbirds, extensive Habitat management and brown-headed cowbird control are integral and permanent aspects of Kirtland's warbler management [31]. Although some of the cost is mitigated by harvesting jack pine, this revenue did not cover costs under 1989 market conditions [61]. In 2009, cost of reforestation on the Huron-Manistee National Forest was estimated at about $500 per acre (Huber 2009 personal communication [48]). This was offset to some extent by income from timber sales [88]. According to reviews, a lack of funding for management is a recurrent concern [58,116], and a newsletter notes that this is an impediment to delisting the Kirtland's warbler [88]. Strategies for addressing this issue include increasing cost effectiveness of [58,66,70,71] and establishing an endowment to assist with expenses of Habitat management [88].

There are little data available addressing the potential impact of climate change on Kirtland's warblers. In 1991, modeling of jack pine in northern Lower Michigan suggested it is sensitive to increases in temperature and will decline rapidly with climate change [15]. However, as of 2007, these predictions had not been tested [14]. Recent range expansions (see General Distribution) suggest that if jack pine were to decline in the southern part of its range, Kirtland's warbler could move north. However, the ability of northern portions of the Kirtland's warbler distribution to support an adequate population size under current or altered climate scenarios has not been investigated. In addition, the impacts of any climate-induced change to the fire regime on Kirtland's warblers and their habitat have not been addressed. A summary of these and other potential impacts of climate change on Kirtland's warbler will likely be completed by late 2010 (Huber 2009 personal communication [48]).

Disturbance of Kirtland's warblers during the breeding and postbreeding seasons is a concern [107] and has led to area closures during the breeding season [58,61]. Due to Kirtland's warbler occurrence on the breeding grounds well into September, Sykes and others [118] recommended closing areas with colonies of more than 10 males through mid-September. According the 2001 review, areas with high and increasing singing male abundance were closed to public entry from 1 May to 10 September, while areas with low and declining abundance of singing males were closed from 1 May to 15 August [47].

The risk of a natural disaster having a major negative impact on the entire Kirtland's warbler population [6] may be mitigated to some extent if Kirtland's warblers maintain colonies in Upper Michigan and Wisconsin.

 

  • 6. Baker, Richard J. 1989. Population viability and the Kirtland's warbler. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 12-26. [51031]
  • 15. Botkin, Daniel B.; Woodby, Douglas A.; Nisbet, Robert A. 1991. Kirtland's warbler habitats: a possible early indicator of climatic warming. Biological Conservation. 56(1): 63-78. [14415]
  • 31. DeCapita, Michael E. 2000. Brown-headed cowbird control on Kirtland's warbler nesting areas in Michigan, 1972-1995. In: Smith, James N.; Cook, Terry L.; Rothstein, Stephen I.; Robinson, Scott K.; Sealy, Spencer G., eds. Ecology and management of cowbirds and their hosts. Studies in the Conservation of North American Passerine Birds. Austin, TX: The University of Texas Press: 333-341. [75678]
  • 58. Kepler, Cameron B.; Irvine, G. William; DeCapita, Michael E.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1996. The conservation management of Kirtland's warbler, Dendroica kirtlandii. Bird Conservation International. 6(1): 11-22. [75698]
  • 61. Kline, David. 1989. A manager's perspective. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 55-56. [51050]
  • 66. Leefers, Larry; Mwangi, Albert. 1989. Economics and the preservation of Kirtland's warbler. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 85-93. [51062]
  • 71. Marshall, Elizabeth; Homans, Frances; Haight, Robert. 2000. Exploring strategies for improving the cost effectiveness of endangered species management: the Kirtland's warbler as a case study. Land Economics. 76(3): 462-473. [75781]
  • 107. Ryel, Lawrence A. 1981. Population change in the Kirtland's warbler. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 59(3): 76-91. [75733]
  • 116. Sykes, Paul W., Jr. 1997. Rare, local, little-known, and declining North American breeders--a closer look: Kirtland's warbler. Birding. 29(3): 220-227. [75744]
  • 118. Sykes, Paul W., Jr.; Kepler, Cameron B.; Jett, David A.; DeCapita, Michael E. 1989. Kirtland's warblers on the nesting grounds during the post-breeding period. The Wilson Bulletin. 101(4): 545-558. [75745]
  • 47. Huber, Philip W.; Weinrich, Jerry A.; Carlson, Elaine S. 2001. Strategy for Kirtland's warbler Habitat management. Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Milwaukee, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Eastern Region; Fort Snelling, MN: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Midwest Region. 27 p. [78002]
  • 70. Marshall, Elizabeth; Haight, Robert; Homans, Frances. 1998. Incorporating environmental uncertainty into species management decisions: Kirtland's warbler Habitat management as a case study. Conservation Biology. 12(5): 975-985. [76989]
  • 14. Botkin, Daniel B.; Saxe, Henrik; Araujo, Miguel B.; Betts, Richard; Bradshaw, Richard H. W.; Cedhagen, Tomas; Chesson, Peter; Dawson, Terry P.; Etterson, Julie R.; Faith, Daniel P.; Ferrier, Simon; Guisan, Antonine; Hansen, Anja Skjoldbor; [and others]. 2007. Forecasting the effects of global warming on biodiversity. BioScience. 57(3): 227-236. [75670]
  • 48. Huber, Philip. 2009. [Personal communication]. December 2. Regarding Kirtland's warbler Habitat management and fire regime within Kirtland's warblers range. Mio, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forest, Mio Ranger District. On file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [77450]
  • 88. Payne, Amy L. 2009. Kirtland's warbler on verge of overcoming endangered status, but habitat problems remain, [Online]. January 14. In: The Bay City Times--Saginaw Bay Watershed Watch: Environmental issues surrounding the Saginaw Bay area. mlive.com (Producer). Available: http://blog.mlive.com/watershedwatch/2009/01/kirtlands_warbler_on_verge_of.html [2009, November 3]. [76959]

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This species is heavily dependent on an extremely specialised and limited habitat which was originally maintained through regular, natural forest fires, providing a constant supply of young jack pines. However, white human settlers cleared much of this habitat and reduced the likelihood of forest fires. Initially, Kirtland's warbler benefited from this action, but the brood-parasitic brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) also thrived. The brown-headed cowbird lays an egg in the nest of Kirtland's warbler, removing one of the warbler's eggs, and tricking it into raising a cowbird as its own. Compounding this problem, the cowbird chick hatches before the warbler chicks and out-competes them for food. As a consequence, the breeding success of Kirtland's warbler has declined dangerously (4).
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Management

Management Requirements: Habitat should continue to be maintained at different successional stages and managed on a rotational basis. Brown-headed cowbird numbers should be kept low, through management, in breeding areas.

Management Research Needs: Winter range needs to be evaluated for potential threats (Collar et al. 1992).

Biological Research Needs: Better information is needed on winter habitat requirements.

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Global Protection: Many (13-40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: Many areas are managed for the benefit of this species. In Michigan, the total public land specifically set aside for the Kirtland's warbler amounted to more than 150,000 acres (607 square kilometers) in the early 2000s (Michigan Department of Natural Resources website, October 2008). In 2011, the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Michigan Department of Natural Resources signed a memorandum of agreement pledging to continue conservation efforts for the endangered Kirtland's warbler regardless of the warbler's status under the Endangered Species Act.

Needs: Protection and suitable management of the wintering habitat is needed.

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Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix I. Management replicating the effects of natural fires has expanded potential breeding habitat to c.516 km2 (Richter 1996, Sykes 1997). Since 1972, a cowbird trapping programme has reduced parasitism from 70% to 3% (Anon. 1996). Education and ecotourism initiatives in Michigan include an annual Kirtland's Warbler Festival (Richter 1996). Surveys have been undertaken in the Bahamas, most recently in 1998 (Haney et al. 1998, D. Ewert in litt. 1999). There is a project in progress to establish the principal wintering habitat (G. Hilton in litt. 2000). Virtually the entire population breeds within the 140,000-acre Kirtland's Warbler Management Area which includes the Huron National Forest, the Kirtland's Warbler National Wildlife Refuge and various Michigan state forests.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Maintain periodically-disturbed suitable habitat on its wintering grounds in the Bahamian archipelago (Wunderle et al. 2010). Continue existing initiatives, which will require $1 million per year (R. Rustem in litt. 2003). Study the effects of management on breeding ecology). Implement prescribed burning for all breeding habitat (Sykes 1997). This is not possible in many areas, where it has been replaced by commercial clearouts, followed by a replant or re-seed (R. Rustem in litt. 2003). Increase the area of jack pine - this is difficult to maintain due to the cost, and its future is uncertain because of the loss of the carbon sequestration program (R. Rustem in litt. 2003). Investigate more economical cowbird control (Sykes 1997).
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Spatial and temporal considerations

More info for the terms: density, tree

Plantation occupancy may be increased by clustering plantations and scheduling rotations so that the periods of habitat suitability in neighboring plantations overlap to some extent. To facilitate Kirtland's warbler occupancy, a1996 review recommended clumping management areas so that 5 or more were within 2 miles (3 km) of one another and planting closely arranged plantations in sequence. It is especially important that small plantations be located near other, preferably large, plantations [58]. A 2001 review also recommended scheduling habitat development so habitats of similar age are closely spaced [47]. Some dispersal data suggest that spatial continuity is not required for new habitat in peripheral areas [93]. More frequent establishment of new plantations, such as cutting appropriately aged stands every 5 years instead of every 10, could allow for overlap in the timing of stand suitability and minimize problems of biogeographic dispersal [92]. Management planning and decision making should incorporate information on the spatial and temporal availability of habitats of various qualities, Kirtland's warbler population size, and recent population trends [34].

Landscape considerations help inform decisions on the location, size, and tree density of plantations. Plantation locations may be selected to better achieve management objectives. For instance, if habitat is needed quickly, a plantation can be located in an area where jack pine growth is relatively fast. In contrast, creating habitat that will be occupied for a long period can be achieved by planting in areas where jack pine growth is slow or in diverse areas [55,129]. Size of a plantation may be influenced by landscape diversity, with larger plantations needed in homogeneous landscapes and smaller plantations able to support Kirtland's warblers in more diverse landscapes. In areas with homogeneous landscapes, staggered planting schedules [54,55] or varied planting densities [92] may provide at least some of the diversity that would occur in heterogeneous landscapes. Variation in the density of jack pine may also increase habitat diversity [85].

Brown-headed cowbird control: Kirtland's warbler management includes extensive annual trapping of brown-headed cowbirds. From 1972 to 1978, over 17,500 brown-headed cowbirds were trapped in Kirtland's warbler breeding areas [75]. By 2000, over 98,000 brown-headed cowbirds had been removed from breeding areas in northern Michigan. Despite extensive annual trapping, brown-headed cowbirds return in large numbers each year [31]. A population viability analysis estimated that nesting failure of 35% from predation, parasitism, and abandonment combined would reduce the Kirtland's warbler population. Based on this estimate, either parasitism rates without brown-headed cowbird control (see brown-headed cowbird parasitism) or parasitism expected at half the control effort of the 1990s are likely to lead Kirtland's warbler to extinction [16]. Given the continued threat, brown-headed cowbird control will likely be a permanent component of Kirtland's warbler management [31,34,107]. For information on parasitism dynamics, see McGreen [83]; for limitations of brown-headed cowbird control efforts, see Rothstein and Cook [105]; for characteristics of trapped brown-headed cowbirds, see DeCapita [31]; and for information on traps and trapping methods, see Kepler and others [58], Mayfield [75] and/or Trick and others [123].
  • 31. DeCapita, Michael E. 2000. Brown-headed cowbird control on Kirtland's warbler nesting areas in Michigan, 1972-1995. In: Smith, James N.; Cook, Terry L.; Rothstein, Stephen I.; Robinson, Scott K.; Sealy, Spencer G., eds. Ecology and management of cowbirds and their hosts. Studies in the Conservation of North American Passerine Birds. Austin, TX: The University of Texas Press: 333-341. [75678]
  • 34. Donner, Deahn M.; Probst, John R.; Ribic, Christine A. 2008. Influence of habitat amount, arrangement, and use on population trend estimates of male Kirtland's warblers. Landscape Ecology. 23(4): 467-480. [75681]
  • 54. Kashian, Daniel M.; Barnes, Burton V. 2000. Landscape influence on the spatial and temporal distribution of the Kirtland's warbler at the Bald Hill burn, northern Lower Michigan, U.S.A. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 30: 1895-1904. [38800]
  • 55. Kashian, Daniel M.; Barnes, Burton V.; Walker, Wayne S. 2003. Landscape ecosystems of northern Lower Michigan and the occurrence and management of the Kirtland's warbler. Forest Science. 49(1): 140-159. [43862]
  • 58. Kepler, Cameron B.; Irvine, G. William; DeCapita, Michael E.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1996. The conservation management of Kirtland's warbler, Dendroica kirtlandii. Bird Conservation International. 6(1): 11-22. [75698]
  • 75. Mayfield, Harold F. 1978. Brood parasitism: Reducing interactions between Kirtland's warblers and brown-headed cowbirds. In: Temple, Stanley A., ed. Endangered birds: management techniques for preserving threatened species. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press: 85-91. [75782]
  • 83. McGeen, Daniel S. 1989. A review of the predator-prey interactions versus habitat considerations for the Kirtland's warbler. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 70-84. [51061]
  • 85. Nelson, Mark D.; Buech, Richard R. 1996. A test of 3 models of Kirtland's warbler habitat suitability. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 24(1): 89-97. [75911]
  • 93. Probst, John R.; Donner, Deahn M.; Bocetti, Carol I.; Sjogren, Steve. 2003. Population increase in Kirtland's warbler and summer range expansion to Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, USA. Oryx. 37(3): 365-373. [75722]
  • 105. Rothstein, Stephen I.; Cook, Terry L. 2000. Introduction: Cowbird management, host population regulation and efforts to save endangered species. In: Smith, James N. M.; Cook, Terry L.; Rothstein, Stephen I.; Robinson, Scott K.; Sealy, Spencer G., eds. Ecology and management of cowbirds and their hosts. Studies in the Conservation of North American Passerine Birds. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press: 323–332. [75732]
  • 107. Ryel, Lawrence A. 1981. Population change in the Kirtland's warbler. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 59(3): 76-91. [75733]
  • 123. Trick, Joel A.; Grveles, Kim; Goyette, Jennifer L. 2009. The 2008 nesting season: first documented successful nesting of Kirtland's warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii) in Wisconsin. The Passenger Pigeon. 71(2): 100-114. [75750]
  • 129. Walker, Wayne S.; Barnes, Burton V.; Kashian, Daniel M. 2003. Landscape ecosystems of the Mack Lake burn, northern Lower Michigan, and the occurrence of the Kirtland's warbler. Forest Science. 49: 119-139. [43728]
  • 47. Huber, Philip W.; Weinrich, Jerry A.; Carlson, Elaine S. 2001. Strategy for Kirtland's warbler Habitat management. Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Milwaukee, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Eastern Region; Fort Snelling, MN: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Midwest Region. 27 p. [78002]
  • 92. Probst, John R. 1988. Kirtland's warbler breeding biology and Habitat management. In: Hoekstra, Thomas W.; Capp, Jack, compilers. Integrating forest management for wildlife and fish. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-122. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 28-35. [76264]
  • 16. Brewer, Bruce; Keplar, Cameron; Moen, Sharon; Bocetti, Carol; Sykes, Paul. 1996. Population biology, life history characteristics, and simulation modeling. In Seal, U. S., ed. Kirtland's warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii) population and habitat viability assessment. Workshop report--Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (IUCN/SSC) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 1992 January 7-9; Bloomington, MN. Apple Valley, MN: International Union of Conservation Networks, Species Survival Commission, Conservation Breeding Specialist Group: 13-28. [In partial fulfillment of USFWS Contract # 14-160003-91-995]. [78247]

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Stand-level details

More info for the terms: density, fire management, natural, wildfire

Stand-level details: Plantations managed for Kirtland's warblers in Michigan have a rotation of about 50 years [21,27,47,58,61]. Blocks have patchiness incorporated into the design [46,47,92] and are often more than 300 acres (100 ha) in size [27]. In a 2008 review of Kirtland's warbler management, rotation length is listed as 55 years in Lower Michigan, 45 years in Upper Michigan, and 75 years in Ontario [27]. One to 5 openings per acre [27,47] are incorporated into jack pine plantations [58], with 20% [31] to 25% [27,46,47] of the site left unplanted. In the 1980s, treatment blocks ranged from 100 [130] to 370 acres (40.5-150 ha), but were most commonly 200 to 300 acres (80-120 ha) [61]. A 1996 review notes management areas were slightly larger, at least 320 acres (130 acres) [58]. Huber and others [47] recommend treatment blocks of more than 300 acres (120 ha) and over 1,000 acres (400 ha) where possible [27,47]. In the late 2000s many plantations created on federal land were 400 to 500 acres (160-200 ha), and those on state lands were as large as 1,000 to 2,000 acres (400-800 ha) (Huber 2009 personal communication [48]).

Planting jack pine seedlings has resulted in better success than use of natural regeneration or direct seeding, and use of a V plow and careful handling of planting stock has improved the consistency of results [58]. Planting seedlings 4 feet (1.2 m) apart in rows that are 6 feet (1.8 m) apart is typical spacing in Kirtland's warbler plantations [27,130]. This gives a density of 4,510 trees/ha [27]. In a review, Probst [92] notes that 2,800 stems/ha provides adequate density for Kirtland's warblers in plantations, because jack pine is less clumped than in naturally regenerating stands. He recommends experimenting with specific alternate densities [92]. Huber and others [47] recommend evaluating stocking densities 1 and 3 years after regeneration attempts. For specific recommendations including harvest, site preparation, and regeneration techniques, see the 1988 Probst [92] review, the 1996 Kepler [58] review, the 2001 Huber and others [47] review, or the 2008 Kirk and others [27] review. For information on plantation methods including the use of prescribed burning, see Fire Management Considerations.

The amount of snags, residual trees, and coarse woody debris needed for Kirtland's warbler is unclear. In a 1988 review, Probst [92] recommends avoiding the creation of narrow stands with long borders adjacent to tall stands, since predation rates could be high in these areas. Concern has been raised over large residual trees and snags within stands leading to increased predation or parasitism [5,10] (see Jack pine size/age). However, areas with less than 5% coverage of snags and/or residual tall trees, where brown-headed cowbirds are controlled, may be beneficial to Kirtland's warblers [92]. Huber and others [47] considered snags important habitat components of Kirtland's warbler habitat and the jack pine ecosystem in general. Substantial differences in coarse woody debris and snags between wildfire and plantation habitats (see Differences in habitat characteristics) led Spaulding and Rothstein [113] to suggest increasing snags, coarse woody debris, and potentially girdling groups of trees in plantations. Probst [92] recommended more direct investigation of the importance of coarse woody debris in Kirtland's warbler habitat.

  • 5. Anderson, Walter L.; Storer, Robert W. 1976. Factors influencing Kirtland's warbler nesting success. The Jack-Pine Warbler. 54(3): 105-115. [75667]
  • 10. Bergland, Mark. 1983. Factors influencing nesting success of Kirtland's warbler. In: Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. Kirtland's warbler: The natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science: 161-183. [76756]
  • 31. DeCapita, Michael E. 2000. Brown-headed cowbird control on Kirtland's warbler nesting areas in Michigan, 1972-1995. In: Smith, James N.; Cook, Terry L.; Rothstein, Stephen I.; Robinson, Scott K.; Sealy, Spencer G., eds. Ecology and management of cowbirds and their hosts. Studies in the Conservation of North American Passerine Birds. Austin, TX: The University of Texas Press: 333-341. [75678]
  • 46. Houseman, Gregory R.; Anderson, Roger C. 2002. Effects of jack pine plantation management on barrens flora and potential Kirtland's warbler nest habitat. Restoration Ecology. 10(1): 27-36. [75691]
  • 58. Kepler, Cameron B.; Irvine, G. William; DeCapita, Michael E.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1996. The conservation management of Kirtland's warbler, Dendroica kirtlandii. Bird Conservation International. 6(1): 11-22. [75698]
  • 61. Kline, David. 1989. A manager's perspective. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 55-56. [51050]
  • 113. Spaulding, Susan E.; Rothstein, David E. 2009. How well does Kirtland's warbler management emulate the effects of natural disturbance on stand structure in Michigan jack pine forests? Forest Ecology and Management. 258(11): 2609-2618. [76565]
  • 130. Walkinshaw, Lawrence H. 1983. Kirtland's warbler: the natural history of an endangered species. Bulletin 58. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Insititute of Science. 207 p. [19203]
  • 47. Huber, Philip W.; Weinrich, Jerry A.; Carlson, Elaine S. 2001. Strategy for Kirtland's warbler Habitat management. Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Milwaukee, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Eastern Region; Fort Snelling, MN: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Midwest Region. 27 p. [78002]
  • 92. Probst, John R. 1988. Kirtland's warbler breeding biology and Habitat management. In: Hoekstra, Thomas W.; Capp, Jack, compilers. Integrating forest management for wildlife and fish. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-122. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 28-35. [76264]
  • 21. Byelich, John; DeCapita, Michael E.; Irvine, George; Radtke, Robert E.; Johnson, Nels I.; Jones, Wesley, R.; Mayfield, Harold; Mahalak, William J. 1985. Kirtland's warbler...recovery plan. Twin Cities, MN: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 39 p. [+ appendices]. [Prepared by the Kirtland's Warbler Recovery Team]. [77007]
  • 27. Committe on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. 2008. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Kirtland's warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii), in Canada--Endangered 2008, [Online]. In: Species at risk public registry--COSEWIC status reports. Ottawa: Environment Canada, Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (Producer). Available: http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/virtual_sara/files/cosewic/sr%5Fkirtland%5Fwarbler%5F0808%5Fe%2Epdf [2010, January 4]. [75949]
  • 48. Huber, Philip. 2009. [Personal communication]. December 2. Regarding Kirtland's warbler Habitat management and fire regime within Kirtland's warblers range. Mio, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forest, Mio Ranger District. On file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [77450]

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Plantation management

More info for the terms: density, selection, wildfire

Kirtland's warbler management area, showing "cutting pattern".

Limitations in the use of prescribed burning have resulted in reliance on plantations to create Kirtland's warbler habitat. There are significant differences between habitat characteristics in areas following wildfire and in plantations, and reproductive output per Kirtland's warbler male suggests that stands originating after wildfire provide slightly higher quality habitat than plantations (see Demography and use). The following information on plantation management focuses on stand-level details such as rotation length, block size, planting density, and snags as well as larger-scale considerations such as temporal and spatial arrangement and selection of locations to meet management objectives. For detailed summaries of Habitat management, see the strategy for Kirtland's warbler Habitat management [47], the Kirtland's warbler Recovery Plan [21], Radtke and others' [103] 1989 review, or Kepler and others' [58] 1996 review.

  • 58. Kepler, Cameron B.; Irvine, G. William; DeCapita, Michael E.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1996. The conservation management of Kirtland's warbler, Dendroica kirtlandii. Bird Conservation International. 6(1): 11-22. [75698]
  • 103. Radtke, Robert; Irvine, G. William; Byelich, John D. 1989. Kirtland's warbler management. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 8-11. [19206]
  • 47. Huber, Philip W.; Weinrich, Jerry A.; Carlson, Elaine S. 2001. Strategy for Kirtland's warbler Habitat management. Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Milwaukee, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Eastern Region; Fort Snelling, MN: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Midwest Region. 27 p. [78002]
  • 21. Byelich, John; DeCapita, Michael E.; Irvine, George; Radtke, Robert E.; Johnson, Nels I.; Jones, Wesley, R.; Mayfield, Harold; Mahalak, William J. 1985. Kirtland's warbler...recovery plan. Twin Cities, MN: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 39 p. [+ appendices]. [Prepared by the Kirtland's Warbler Recovery Team]. [77007]

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Management Considerations

Cooperation between federal and state agencies has been a predominant aspect of Kirtland's warbler management for decades [50,58,121]. A survey of local attitudes regarding the Kirtland's warbler in 1998 found generally positive responses [111]. The Kirtland's warbler is beneficial to the local area in some respects, including as a source of tourism [110]. Some aspects of the management program have been unpopular, including area and road closures and the large clearcuts created for Kirtland's warbler habitat [61].

Preliminary information regarding methods for reintroducing Kirtland's warblers to unoccupied areas of their range is available [11,17]. See DeCapita [31] and Solomon [110] for histories of Kirtland's warbler management through the mid-1990s. For a discussion of the history of Kirtland's warbler Habitat management, see Trauger and Bocetti [121] or Huber and others [47].

  • 11. Bocetti, Carol I. 1989. Kirtland's warbler reintroduction study. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 63-68. [51057]
  • 17. Brewer, Richard; Morris, Kenneth. 1984. Cross-fostering as a management tool for the Kirtland's warbler. The Journal of Wildlife Management. 48(3): 1041-1045. [76990]
  • 31. DeCapita, Michael E. 2000. Brown-headed cowbird control on Kirtland's warbler nesting areas in Michigan, 1972-1995. In: Smith, James N.; Cook, Terry L.; Rothstein, Stephen I.; Robinson, Scott K.; Sealy, Spencer G., eds. Ecology and management of cowbirds and their hosts. Studies in the Conservation of North American Passerine Birds. Austin, TX: The University of Texas Press: 333-341. [75678]
  • 50. Huntington, Greg. 1989. Military cooperation in the Kirtland's warbler recovery effort. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 54. [51049]
  • 58. Kepler, Cameron B.; Irvine, G. William; DeCapita, Michael E.; Weinrich, Jerry. 1996. The conservation management of Kirtland's warbler, Dendroica kirtlandii. Bird Conservation International. 6(1): 11-22. [75698]
  • 61. Kline, David. 1989. A manager's perspective. In: Ennis, K. R., ed. At the crossroads--extinction or survival: Proceedings, Kirtland's warbler symposium; 1989 February 9-11; Lansing, MI. Cadillac, MI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Huron-Manistee National Forests: 55-56. [51050]
  • 110. Solomon, Barry D. 1998. Impending recovery of Kirtland's warbler: case study of the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act. Environmental Management. 22(1): 9-17. [75739]
  • 111. Solomon, Barry D. 1998. Public support for endangered species recovery: an exploratory study of the Kirtland's warbler. Human Dimensions of Wildlife. 3(3): 62-74. DOI: 10.1080/10871209809359132. [75740]
  • 121. Trauger, David L.; Bocetti, Carol I. 1993. Kirtland's Warbler Recovery Team effectively coordinates interagency research and management. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. 18(2): 14, 16-17. [22063]
  • 47. Huber, Philip W.; Weinrich, Jerry A.; Carlson, Elaine S. 2001. Strategy for Kirtland's warbler Habitat management. Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Milwaukee, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Eastern Region; Fort Snelling, MN: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Midwest Region. 27 p. [78002]

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Conservation

To combat the two main threats to this species, habitat loss and brood-parasitism, the nature authorities of Michigan began a cowbird trapping programme in 1972 which was extremely successful, reducing brood-parasitism from 70% to 3%. Habitat management has also been undertaken, resulting in a threefold increase in suitable Kirtland's warbler habitat. The number of Kirtland's warblers is clearly directly linked to available habitat as, following management work, the population quadrupled between 1990 and 2000. Collaborative efforts between the United States and the Bahamas have improved the quality of wintering grounds and led to ongoing surveying. More economical cowbird control is now being investigated. The success of conservation efforts for Kirtland's warbler is well documented and referred to in the conservation community (2).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

The warbler's endangered species status has affected the ability of private landowners to develop property containing warbler habitat.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Negligible

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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

The warbler's endangered species status has affected the ability of private landowners to develop property containing warbler habitat.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Negligible

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Risks

Stewardship Overview: To mimic the effects of wildfire and ensure the future of this species, the Michigan DNR and its state and federal partners manage the forests through a combination of clearcutting, burning, seeding, and replanting to promote warbler habitat. Approximately 3,000 acres of jack pine trees are planted or seeded annually on state and federal lands, primarily for the purpose of providing habitat for Kirtland's warblers. [Michigan Department of Natural Resources website, October 2008]

See USFWS (2012) for an updated summary of ongoing and needed conservation actions.

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Wikipedia

Kirtland's warbler

Kirtland's Warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii), also known as the Jack Pine Warbler, or American Warblemaster is a small songbird of the New World warbler family (Parulidae), named after Jared P. Kirtland, an Ohio doctor and amateur naturalist. Nearly extinct just 50 years ago, it is well on its way to recovery. It requires large areas (> 160 acres) of dense young jack pine for its breeding habitat. This habitat was historically created by wildfire, but today is primarily created through the harvest of mature jack pine, and planting of jack pine seedlings.

Since the mid-19th century at least it has become a restricted-range endemic species. Almost the entire population spends the spring and summer in the northeastern Lower Peninsula of Michigan and winters in The Bahamas.

Description[edit]

Female

These birds have bluish-brown upper body parts with dark streaks on the back and yellow underparts with streaked flanks. They have thin wing bars, dark legs and a broken white eye ring. Females and juveniles are browner on the back. Like the Palm Warbler and Prairie Warbler, they frequently bob their tails. At 14–15 cm (5.5–5.9 in) and 12–16 g (0.42–0.56 oz), it is the largest of the numerous Setophaga warblers.[2] Their song is a loud chip-chip-chip-too-too-weet-weet often sung from the top of a snag (dead tree) or northern pin oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis) clump.

Range and ecology[edit]

Their breeding range is in a very limited area in the north of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. In recent years, breeding pairs have been found in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Wisconsin, and southern Ontario likely due to the rapidly expanding population. Breeding habitat is typically large areas (> 160 acres) of dense young jack pine (Pinus banksiana). Kirtland's Warblers occur in greatest numbers in large areas that have been clearcut or where a large wildfire has occurred. The birds leave their breeding habitat between August and October and migrate to The Bahamas and nearby Turks and Caicos Islands; they return to Michigan to breed again in May. In their winter habitat, they have been found primarily in scrub habitat, feeding on wild sage, black torch, and snowberry.

Kirtland's Warbler found in northern Ohio on May 14, 2010, on the shores of Lake Erie where migrant warblers stop before crossing into Ontario. Kirtland's occasionally appear at this location in spring, where they are considered accidentals.

Kirtland's Warblers forage in the lower parts of trees, sometimes hovering or searching on the ground. These birds eat insects and some berries, also eating fruit in winter. For breeding they require stands of young (4 to 20 year old, 2–4 m high) Jack Pine trees. They nest on the ground. Their nest is usually at the base of a tree, next to a down log or other structure, and is well concealed by sedge, grasses, blueberries and other ground vegetation.

Habitat[edit]

This Lower Peninsula Jack Pine stand was still a bit young in 2002, but by 2008 made good breeding habitat. By 2015–2020, the mature trees would form a forest nearly 20 m high and Kirtland's Warblers would not want to breed there anymore.

Ecology of Jack Pine[edit]

Main article: Jack Pine

Jack Pines are somewhat smallish pine widespread from the Canadian tundra and taiga to the Great Lakes region and the Atlantic Ocean; they are a boreal species, only occurring in a certain climate.[3] Their cones open only after trees have been cleared away by forest fires or, after logging, in the summer sun. About all of its present-day range was covered by solid ice as late as 10,000 to 15,000 years ago; the range of the pine (and as it seems the warbler also) was probably a contiguous swath between the Appalachian Mountains and the Great Plains. The pine's peculiar reproductive strategy fits well with a dry taiga or cool temperate habitat as would have predominated there, probably with a higher incidence of forest fires than today, as the ice age climate was somewhat drier overall.[4]

Decline to near-extinction[edit]

As global climate changed out of the ice age through the last 10 millennia or so, Jack Pine, and consequently also Kirtland's Warbler, shifted their habitat north. As the Kirtland's Warbler—and Parulidae in general—is not able to expand into subarctic climate well, most Jack Pine woods are too far north for the species. Moreover, the Great Lakes, which formed before the receding ice, were an obstacle for its spread. Kirtland's Warbler found itself blocked by the expanse of water, while the cold-hardy Jack Pine expanded its range as far as the Northwest Territories.

With European settlement of North America progressing in earnest, much of the forest in the southern Great Lakes region was cut away, never to be restocked. Kirtland's Warbler became trapped on the northern Lower Peninsula. It may or may not have occurred in Dr. Kirtland's home state of Ohio in recent times, but if it did it would seem to have been extirpated from the state around the time when its namesake himself died in 1877. What habitat there might have been was cleared away in the latter half of the 19th century, and certainly the bird was not breeding there anymore in 1906.[5] Kirtland's Warblers used to breed in Ontario but have not done so since the 1940s. By the mid twentieth century its numbers had crashed to near-extinction. The Kirtland's Warbler population reached lows of probably less than 500 individuals around the 1970s, and in 1994 only 18 km² of suitable breeding habitat was available.[1]

Recovery[edit]

Today this bird's habitat is being preserved by controlled or prescribed burns and staggered timber harvests in its limited breeding range. Since this habitat management regime was begun in the 1970s, the birds' numbers have steadily risen, though they are still at dangerously low levels. People have also intervened to protect this bird against nest parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds, to which these birds are highly susceptible.

They have still been observed in Ontario and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and though it is still only rarely recorded in NW Ohio (where there is hardly any significant woodland left), the numbers of recorded birds are increasing.[6] Beginning in 2005, a small number have been observed in Wisconsin. In 2007, three Kirtland's Warbler nests were discovered in central Wisconsin[7] and one at CFB Petawawa,[8] providing an auspicious sign that they are recovering and expanding their range once again.

The Kirtland's Warbler is listed as "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.[9] Although there seem to be no more than 5,000 Kirtland's Warblers as of late 2007,[10] four years earlier they had numbered just 2500–3000. On the IUCN "Red List of Threatened Species," the Kirtland's Warbler was classified as Vulnerable to extinction since 1994, but was downlisted to Near Threatened in 2005 due to its encouraging recovery. It is not clear to what extent the birds depend on Bahamas pine during winter; deforestation on the wintering grounds may eventually become a bigger threat to the birds' recovery than the situation in its breeding range.[1]

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has recently made optimistic reports about the populations of Kirtland's Warblers.[11]

Recent reports indicate that the population is growing, but also suggest that the Kirtland Warbler may continue to be dependent upon human protection and intervention indefinitely.[12]

There is a Kirtland's Warbler Wildlife Festival, which is sponsored in part by Kirtland Community College (which is named in honor of the bird and its habitat).[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c BirdLife International (2012). "Dendroica kirtlandii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Tiner, Tim (2013) Kirtland’s warbler. ON Nature magazine . Retrieved on 2013-04-03.
  3. ^ Peel, M.C.; Finlayson, B.L. & McMahon, T.A. (2007). "Updated world map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification". Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 11 (5): 1633–1644. doi:10.5194/hess-11-1633-2007.  Supplement
  4. ^ Ray, Nicolas & Adams, Jonathan M. (2001). "A GIS-based Vegetation Map of the World at the Last Glacial Maximum (25,000–15,000 BP)". Internet Archaeology 11. 
  5. ^ Henninger, W.F. (1906). "A preliminary list of the birds of Seneca County, Ohio". Wilson Bulletin 18 (2): 47–60. 
  6. ^ Ohio Ornithological Society (2004): Annotated Ohio state checklist.
  7. ^ United States Fish and Wildlife Service (2007): Kirtland's Warbler 2007 Nesting Season Summary. Version of 2007-DEC-10. Retrieved 2008-FEB-19.
  8. ^ CFB Petawawa (2007): Canada's Rarest Nesting Bird found at CFB Petawawa. Version of 2007-Nov-01. Retrieved 2008-FEB-19.
  9. ^ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Species Profile for Kirtland's Warbler. Ecos.fws.gov. Retrieved on 2013-04-03.
  10. ^ USFWS: Kirtland's Warbler Census Results: 1951–2008. Fws.gov (2013-01-03). Retrieved on 2013-04-03.
  11. ^ Kirtland's Warbler Populations Continue to Grow, Michigan Department of Natural Resources
  12. ^ Flesher, John (September 21, 2008) Warbler may be endangered forever, Detroit Free Press.
  13. ^ "Kirtland Warbler Festival and links.". 

Further reading[edit]

  • Mayfield, Harold (1960): The Kirtland's Warbler. Cranbrook Institute of Science Bulletin 40.
  • Mayfield, Harold F. 1992. Kirtland’s Warbler. In The Birds of North America, No. 19 (A. Poole, P. Stettenheim, and F. Gill, Eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, DC: The American Ornithologists’ Union.
  • Rapai, William J (2012). The Kirtland's Warbler: The Story of a Bird's Fight Against Extinction and the People Who Saved It. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-11803-8.  ISBN 978-0-472-02806-1.
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Phylogenetic analyses of sequences of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA (Lovette et al. 2010) indicate that all species formerly placed in Dendroica, one species formerly placed in Wilsonia (citrina), and two species formerly placed in Parula (americana and pitiayumi) form a clade with the single species traditionally placed in Setophaga (ruticilla). The generic name Setophaga has priority for this clade (AOU 2011).

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The scientific name of Kirtland's warbler is Dendroica kirtlandii (Parulidae) [4]. A possible hybrid with Blackburnian warbler (D. fusca) was observed in the Dominican Republic [64].
  • 64. Latta, Steven C.; Parkes, Kenneth C. 2001. A possible Dendroica kirtlandii hybrid from Hispaniola. The Wilson Bulletin. 113(4): 378-383. [75863]
  • 4. American Ornithologists' Union. 2010. The A.O.U. check-list of North American birds, 7th ed., [Online]. American Ornithologists' Union (Producer). Available: http://www.aou.org/checklist/north/index.php. [50863]

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Common Names

Kirtland's warbler

jack pine warbler

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