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Endangered Species Program
Conserving and restoring threatened and endangered species and their ecosystems
Kirtland's warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii )
Status: Proposed for Delisting
The Kirtland’s warbler is a small songbird that nests in young jack pine forests in northern Michigan, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada. It requires large stands of young, dense jack pine forest at least 80 acres in size, but prefers stands of 300 to 400 acres, or larger. This warbler has one of the most geographically restricted breeding distributions of any bird in the continental United States. The exact habitat it uses for nesting within jack pine forests is very specific and depends on disturbance, which historically was wildfire. Today, management for Kirtland's warbler habitat emulates the results of wildfire. The Kirtland's warbler migrates to The Bahamas to overwinter.
The concern of the birding and scientific communities, supported by nesting and census data, led the Service to include the Kirtland’s warbler on the list of endangered species in 1967 under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966. When the Endangered Species Act was passed into law in 1973, the Kirtland’s warbler was on the initial list of endangered and threatened species.
Proposal to Delist
With cooperative efforts among conservation partners, the Kirtland’s warbler population is now estimated to be over 2,300 pairs – more than double the recovery numerical goal. The Kirtland’s warbler population continues to grow and has exceeded the recovery numerical goal for the past 16 years. The proposed rule will publish in the Federal Register on April 12, 2018. Publication of the rule opens a 90-day public comment period. After the comment period closes, we will evaluate all comments and new information and then make a decision on whether or not to delist the Kirtland’s warbler. We must make the decision within one year from the date the proposed rule published.
Information about reproduction, feeding habits and habitat use
From near extinction to surpassing recovery goals
Fact sheets, articles and photos
Kirtland's Warbler Tours
Kirtland's warbler tours are available from the U.S. Forest Service and Michigan Audubon Society in Michigan and from the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. Guided Kirtland’s warbler tours are the best opportunity to view Kirtland’s warblers, as nesting areas are closed and posted against public entry during the nesting season. Kirtland’s warblers are rarely seen in Michigan outside of their nesting habitat.
Last updated: April 12, 2018