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Kirtland's Warbler Dendroica kirtlandii


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Kirtland's Warbler, female
credit: Dominic Sherony/CCSA

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Family: Parulidae, Wood Warblers view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Mostly blue-gray above, streaked on back with two white wing bars; color on head forms a distinct hood; note the broken white eyering. Throat and underparts are mostly yellow grading to white on vent and undertail coverts; has dark streaks on flanks. ADULT FEMALE Similar, but paler and less colorful overall. IMMATURE Recalls adult female, but plumage is paler and less colorful with buff gray wash to upperparts and less distinct eyering.

Dimensions Length: 6" (15 cm)

Endangered Status The Kirtland's Warbler is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered throughout its U.S. range in Michigan and Wisconsin. This warbler nests in Jack Pines, the cones of which need fire in order to open up and release their seeds. Fire suppression practices have devastated the species by inhibiting the regeneration of the pines. Among the measures being taken to save the Kirtland's Warbler is controlled burning in its breeding range in an attempt to maintain the required habitat. Cowbird control is also essential to sustaining viable populations of this rare bird, as the nest predators are known to lay their eggs in Kirtland's nests.

Habitat Rare summer visitor (mainly May-Aug) to young Jack Pine forests in Michigan; fire prevention (fire is essential for forest regrowth) was a major factor in species' decline. Winters in Bahamas.

Observation Tips Join a U.S. Forest Service guided tour.

Range Great Lakes, Florida

Voice Song is a rich, accelerating wich-tchew-tchew-tchew-tchwe-wee; call is a soft tchh.

Discussion Endangered warbler that "pumps" tail up and down while feeding. Sexes are separable.