News Release

Partnership Proves Key to Kirtland’s Warbler Nesting Success in Wisconsin

July 25, 2008

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A partnership of private, state and federal agencies has sparked a flicker of hope in Wisconsin for an endangered wood warbler. Efforts by Plum Creek Timber Company, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have led to the first successful nesting of Kirtlands warblers in the state.

2Joel Trick, biologist with the Fish and Wildlife Services Green Bay Field Office, reports that a combination of close monitoring and control of parasitic brown-headed cowbirds resulted in at least 10 young warblers surviving to leave their nests. Only one nest was lost to cowbirds, which pose a primary threat to Kirtlands warbler recovery. "We are thrilled to see these birds successfully produce and raise young," said Trick.

2"The key has been the excellent coordination among all the partners. Without it, I doubt we would have a new generation of Kirtlands in Wisconsin this year." Trick pointed to Plum Creeks embrace of the warblers on their lands in central Wisconsin, nest monitoring coordinated by the DNR and the Service, and cowbird trapping efforts by the Agriculture Departments Wildlife Services.

2Plum Creek has been an enthusiastic partner in recovery efforts for the Kirtlands warbler. Allowing access to its Adams County property, the company has supported monitoring and trapping activities that benefit the warbler. "

2Plum Creek is so pleased that the Kirtlands warbler protection efforts have been successful this year," said Scott Henker, senior resource manager for Plum Creek. "Whether it is this warbler, the Karner blue butterfly or various other wildlife that call our lands home, we are committed to working with state and federal agencies to protect these species and their forestland habitat in Wisconsin."

2"The success weve had this year is very encouraging for the Kirtlands warblers and for Wisconsin," noted Kim Grveles, an ornithologist with the Wisconsin DNR. "We look forward to continuing our work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and forest managers to closely monitor the sites, promote the warbler habitat and protect as much as possible their nesting areas from disturbance."

2Wildlife Services trapped and removed more than 300 cowbirds at two Kirtlands nesting sites in Adams County, preventing cowbirds from laying their eggs in warbler nests. This practice by cowbirds usually results in adult Kirtlands warblers hatching and raising cowbirds instead of their own young. Studies have shown the presence of any cowbird eggs in a nest greatly decreases the likelihood that warblers will live to the nestling stage. Of five known Kirtlands nests in the area, only one contained cowbird eggs this year.

2As a federal agency, Wildlife Services works under rules to take care that statewide cowbird populations are not significantly affected by the project.

2"Wildlife Services" specialists are privileged to have been able to use their skills to assist this rare songbird," said Jason Suckow, director for the program in Wisconsin. "Protecting agricultural, property and natural resources is our mission, often done through such public/private partnerships. We believe that with continued efforts the Kirtlands warbler can have a future in Wisconsin, which can also lead to opportunities for bird watchers and the local economy as occurred in Michigan."

2As recently as 2006, the hope for endangered Kirtlands warblers in Wisconsin was fragile. But in 2007, three nests were discovered on Plum Creek land, although the nests produced no surviving young Kirtlands warblers. This years successful fledging of at least 10 young is likely due to intervention of Wildlife Services trapping operation.

2Next year, wildlife managers plan to continue cowbird trapping in key areas. They expect to revisit nesting sites and other areas in Wisconsin where single birds have been spotted, hoping to discover additional nests.

2The tiny Kirtlands warbler, whose distinctive mating call can be heard up to a quarter of a mile away, lives primarily in jack pine forests in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan. The warbler selects nesting sites in stands of jack pine between 4 and 20 years old. Historically, frequent natural wildfires created these stands of young jack pine.

2Modern fire suppression programs altered this natural process, reducing Kirtlands warbler habitat and prompting Kirtlands numbers to drop as low as 167 singing males in 1987. Prior to last years historic nesting in Wisconsin, no Kirtlands warblers have nested outside Michigan since nesting occurred in Ontario in the 1940s.

2Cooperative management efforts have restored the Kirtlands warbler throughout much of its historic nesting range in Michigans Lower Peninsula. The presence of a healthy and expanding core population in this area has resulted in the dispersal and appearance of the birds in the Upper Peninsula, Canada and Wisconsin. A 2007 census of singing males found an estimated 1,707 singing males, including eight in Wisconsin and two in Ontario.

2For more information on the Kirtlands warbler and other endangered species in the Midwest, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered

2The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov

Information contained in older news items may be outdated. These materials are made available as historical archival information only. Individual contacts have been replaced with general External Affairs office information. No other updates have been made to the information and we do not guarantee current accuracy or completeness.


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.