Kirtland's Warbler Bargain Notecard - Bargain Bin

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Model: NCB-30
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Kirtland's Warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii)
Kirtland's Warbler is one of the most beautiful of the North American wood warblers with bright yellow underparts, black side streaks, and charcoal-grey head and back. However, its loud, emphatic and frequently repeated song does not match its lovely appearance. This warbler is definitely not an accomplished singer, but does have one of the loudest songs of any of the warblers, reminiscent of the chattering quality of the House Wren's song.

Kirtland's Warbler is one of the rarest birds in the world: there are only several hundred in existence. They nest on the ground in stands of Jack Pines: all the nests ever found for this species have been in only 13 contiguous counties in central Michigan. These warblers have very specific habitat requirements: pines must be 6-20 feet tall, in stands of 200 acres or more. The ground beneath and between the pines must be sandy and porous with low ground cover. Fire is the natural provider of such habitat. Humanity's inclination to extinguish natural fires has contributed to the scarcity of the warbler's desired breeding grounds. Controlled burns can be used to create habitat for Kirtland's Warbler.

Unfortunately, this uncommon warbler faces two other major problems in its struggle for survival; Kirtland's Warblers are unusually susceptible to the nest parasitism of the Brown-headed Cowbird. Furthermore, the species is mysteriously disappearing from its wintering grounds in the Bahamas. A successful Cowbird control program has resulted in an increase in reproductive success. Nonetheless, this lovely warbler is still in serious trouble. More information is needed regarding its wintering range so we can improve conditions there. We must act quickly if we are to prevent the complete disappearance of this bird.

artwork and text by John Sill (c) 1994




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