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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Kirtland's Warbler -- Dendroica kirtlandii

RANGE: Breeds only in extensive tracts of small jack pines in a few counties of northern lower Michigan. Occasionally strays to similar habitats in Wisconsin, southern Ontario, and southern Quebec if not breeding. Winters throughout the Bahamas.

STATUS: Endangered. Approximately 1,000 birds in existence.

HABITAT: Breeds in very specific habitats: extensive stands (80 + acres) of young jack pine that are 6 to 20 feet tall and have living pine branches near the ground. Usually moves into burned-over jack pine forests 6 to 13 years after fire and inhabits these young forests for 10 to 12 years.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Dense stands of young jack pine.

NEST: Tends to nest in loose colonies. Conceals nest under low vegetation (particularly bluestem grass and blueberry) near the base of a small jack pine on flat, dry, porous soil, usually depressed below ground level; about half of nests are parasitized by brown-headed cowbirds.

FOOD: Gleans food (mostly insects) from the ground and pine needles.

REFERENCES: Griscom and Sprunt 1979, Mackenzie 1977, Mayfield 1960.

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