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Kirtlands Warbler
Wildlife Management Area

male Kirtland's warbler on jack pine bough

Northern Lower Peninsula, MI   
E-mail: kirtlandswarblerrefuge@fws.gov
Phone Number: 906-586-9851
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The area protects habitat for the Federally endangered Kirtland's warbler.
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Kirtlands Warbler Wildlife Management Area

The Kirtland's warbler is an endangered neotropical migratory bird. The breeding range of this species is primarily restricted to the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan, and several locations in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin. This species winters on Bahamian islands in the Caribbean.

Kirtland's Warbler Wildlife Management Area is located throughout eight counties in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Staff from Seney National Wildlife Refuge (Seney, Michigan) is responsible for land management at the refuge.

Getting There . . .
Area lands are scattered across eight counties at 119 sites. Contact Seney Refuge staff for directions to specific parcels.

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Wildlife and Habitat

The Kirtland's warbler nests in young jack pine forest growing on sandy glacial outwash soils. Warblers prefer to nest in jack pine forests that are 80 acres or larger with numerous small, grassy openings.

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A survey of Kirtland's warbler in 1951 found 432 singing male birds. By the 1970s, fewer than 200 singing males were being surveyed on a yearly basis.

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The area will be closed and posted against public entry during the nesting season (May-August) to protect the birds. Guided tours are, however, offered through the East Lansing Ecological Services Office of the Fish and Wildlife Service and by staff of the Huron-Manistee National Forest.

Recreation and Education Opportunities
Environmental Education
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
All area acreage contains jack pine growing on Grayling sands and has the potential for warbler nesting. Management for Kirtland's warbler involves a combination of direct area management and actions via a Memorandum of Understanding with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The Service tracts are surrounded by Michigan DNR state forests that are designated to be managed to benefit Kirtland's warblers.

Although the bird has adapted to wildfire-regenerated jack pine, prescribed fire is not practical in most areas due to the explosive wildfire nature of jack pine. Homes are scattered all through the state forests, and fire creates serious hazards to life and property. Because fire is not an acceptable means to regenerate most jack pine stands, timber cutting, direct seeding and planting are often the only options available to establish stands.

Service staff monitor warbler populations through annual surveys.