The Return of Kirtland's Warbler
The Kirtland's warbler is one of the world's rarest birds. A Michigan Historical Marker celebrates the decades-long work of conservationists to save the little bird also known as the jack pine warbler.
The blue-gray male Kirtland's warbler is less than six inches long and has a bright yellow breast streaked in black and a dark mask with white eye rings. It nests only in the grass at the bottom of young jack pine trees.
Grayling, Crawford County
Michigan Department of Transportation Grayling rest area, just north of the I-75 and U.S. 127 junction (See a map.)
June 2, 2010
About this Michigan Historical Marker:
- Second Michigan Historical Marker in the proposed Michigan Conservation Trail, a collaborative effort between the Michigan Historical Commission and the Michigan Environmental Council.
- This Michigan Historical Marker includes a larger-than-life illustration of the Kirtland's warbler.
- This is an oversized Michigan Historical Marker, measuring 48" x 65".
- Registered State Site No. 709 (See a photo of the marker in its registered location.)
THE RETURN OF KIRTLAND'S WARBLER
The Kirtland's warbler was first identified in 1851 from a specimen collected on Dr. Jared Kirtland's Ohio farm. The birds originally depended on fire-created young jack pine forests for summer nesting. Such forests in northern Michigan became their prime global summer breeding habitat. Kirtland's Warbler faced extinction due to the loss of habitat and the invasion of parasitic brown-headed cowbirds, which lay eggs in warbler nests and whose young survive at the expense of warbler nestlings. The warbler was placed on the federal endangered species list in 1967 and the state endangered species list in 1976. Guided by research to mimic natural fire processes, government agencies and private conservationists began harvesting older jack pine stands and replanting the trees to restore the warblers' habitat. In addition, cowbird populations were controlled. From an all-time modern low of 167 nesting pairs in 1974 and 1987, the summer population of the warbler rebounded to more than 1,700 pairs in 2007. The recovery of the species testifies to the effectiveness of habitat restoration efforts. During the winter the songbirds leave Michigan for the Bahamas.
You can find more information about this Michigan treasure on the DNR page, Kirtland's Warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii).
Interested in marking a site with a Michigan Historical Marker? Please read more about how to apply for a marker.