top of page

Kirtland's Warbler News


On Sept. 21, State Rep. Greg Markkanen introduced a bill that would make the Kirtland's Warbler Michigan's State Bird!

We are 100 percent in favor of this legislation!

You can help by calling or emailing your representative and letting them know that you support House Bill 6382. Remember, this bill is only in the State House right now. It does not help to call your State Senator and it does not help to call anyone in Michigan's congressional delegation.

If you don't know who your representative is, you can find out at:

We are running out of days in the 2022 legislative session, which means we need to get the House Committee on Government Operations to set a hearing date for the legislation ASAP. If you live in the Mt. Pleasant area, we encourage you to call or email the office of State Rep. Mike Mueller, the committee's chair ASAP. Email him at or call him at (517) 373-1780. Again, let him know you want him to schedule a hearing on HB 6382.

Need reasons why the Kirtland's Warbler should be Michigan's State Bird? Here are 10 of them to share with friends, neighbors, social media and legislators:

1. About 99 percent of the population of the Kirtland’s Warbler nests in northern Michigan’s jack pine forests near Grayling and Mio. It’s primarily a Michigan story.

2. The warbler was saved from extinction through a heroic effort of state and federal wildlife agencies. As recently as 1987 there were fewer than 400 birds in the total population. Today there are more than 4,000 and the population is still stable and secure. The Kirtland’s Warbler is a great example of endangered species success.

3. Technically, Michigan does not have a state bird. In 1931, the Michigan Legislature voted to name the American Robin Michigan’s state bird by resolution. A resolution expires when that legislation session closes.

4. The American Robin is also the state bird of Connecticut and Wis- consin. Shouldn’t Michigan have a state bird that is as unique as itself?

5. Yes, the Kirtland’s Warbler is rare, and that’s precisely the point. It’s possible to have great pride in something you may not have seen because it represents something larger — like Michigan the other special things in our state.

6. People say, “Why should we have a state bird that nobody ever sees?” It's not that hard. Take a Kirtland’s Warbler tour in the spring and see the bird and its unusual habitat, which can be found nowhere else in the world.

7. Every year people come to northern Michigan from around the world to see the Kirtland’s Warbler. We should be celebrating and advertising that so more people will come and give a tourism boost to towns like Grayling and Mio at a time of year when there's not a lot of tourism.

8. Kirtland’s Warblers are tough. They have chosen to nest in one of the most inhospitable microclimates in the state -- a place where there can be frost on the plants in the morning and it can be 90 degrees the same afternoon. And don't forget about the blackflies and mosquitos.

9. The Kirtland’s Warbler is The Comeback Bird for The Comeback State. The Kirtland’s Warbler and Michigan ran parallel courses back in the 1980s. The state struggled as the auto industry contracted during a steep recession and the Kirtland’s Warbler teetered on brink of extinction. Look at them today!

10. Okay, so what if the Kirtland’s Warbler doesn’t spend the entire year in Michigan? Other states have migratory birds as their state birds. Ever try to find a Common Loon in Minnesota during winter? It doesn’t seem to lessen Minnesota’s state pride any.

9 views0 comments

Updated: Apr 27, 2022

Join us on Saturday, May 7, to help plant two acres - some 2,400 trees - create new nesting habitat for the Kirtland's Warbler. Here's the registration link:

This year we will be joined by joined by volunteers from Michigan United Conservation Clubs and students in the Pathways Program at Kirtland Community College - and maybe others. (The event is sponsored by Ajax Paving. The next time you are on a smooth section of I-75, thank Ajax!)

The location is on the north side of Refuge Road, approximately one mile east of North Saint Helen Road. If it's easier for you, here are the coordinates: 44.408984,-84.390172.

Show up at 9 a.m. for coffee and donuts. We'll be giving a brief tree planting lesson starting about 9:15 a.m. and then we'll spread out and start planting. It's a couple hours of hard work, but imagine the satisfaction of coming back to this spot in six years and seeing a Kirtland's Warbler singing from a jack pine tree you planted!

We'll be providing lunch, snacks and water. And since the first Kirtland's Warblers usually arrive on their breeding grounds that same week, we'll hold an impromptu Kirtland's tour before going our separate ways.

MANY THANKS to our event sponsor, Ajax Industries, for their generosity!

20 views0 comments

Updated: Dec 7, 2021

The Kirtland’s Warbler, long a symbol of conservation in Michigan, will be featured on a new Michigan license plate that will help raise money for wildlife habitat in the state.

Beginning in January, Michigan drivers will be able to purchase the license plate through the Michigan Secretary of State for $35, with $25 of that fee designated to the Nongame Fish and Wildlife Trust Fund.

The Michigan DNR chose to celebrate the Kirtland’s Warbler species because it was removed from the federal endangered species list in October 2019. Through wise stewardship on the part of the Michigan DNR, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, plans and partnerships with a network of nonprofit organizations and private citizens created a conservation coalition that saved this bird from extinction. There are now more than 4,000 individuals, and the population is considered healthy.

This warbler nests in young jack pine forests of northern Michigan. Ninety-five percent of the Kirtland’s Warbler population nests in five counties in the northern Lower Peninsula. Small populations can also be found in the U.P., Wisconsin, and Ontario. The warbler spends its winters primarily in The Bahamas.

The Kirtland’s Warbler is the perfect symbol for the Nongame Fish and Wildlife Trust Fund because even though the bird is no longer considered endangered, conservation efforts must continue for as far as we can see into the future. Kirtland’s Warblers nest on the ground under the overlapping branches of young jack pine trees. Historically, the warbler’s breeding habitat was created by wildfire sweeping across the landscape, burning mature trees, and opening new areas for young trees to grow. But with more humans living near jack pine habitat starting in the early 20th century, fires became viewed as a threat and were extinguished. With young jack pine habitat becoming increasingly rare, the warbler went into a long, slow population decline until the 1980s, when humans began to harvest large areas of mature forests and replant them with young trees.

The Kirtland’s Warbler is just one of the species that benefits from management of the jack pine ecosystem. Game species such as the white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and snowshoe hare use the young jack pine habitat extensively. Jack pine management also helps to support the threatened Hill’s thistle (a plant) and the secretive locust (an insect).

“The accomplishment of this species qualifying for removal from the endangered species list is a testament to the efficacy and power of ecology-driven conservation,” said Michigan Audubon Executive Director Heather Good.

Michigan Audubon has contributed to Kirtland’s Warbler conservation, collaboration, tours, and management in many ways throughout history, which makes this event of relevance to a great many volunteers, members, donors, tour guides, and former board members who helped make this happen.

Since its inception, the wildlife habitat license plate has raised over $3.9 million for Michigan’s Nongame Fish and Wildlife Trust Fund. This is the only designated fund for nongame species in our state, which is why your contribution matters, Good shared. “It not only puts dollars into an area of natural resources management that is greatly unsupported and in need of resources, but it also conveys a message on the road and to our legislators about non-consumptive wildlife appreciation,” she added.

The Common Loon, another beloved avian species to many, was the first species featured on the Michigan’s nongame license plate when it became available in 2006. In December 2017, the nongame plate featured an elk, purportedly to mark the 2018 celebration of 100 years of elk presence in our state. “I think the birding community will applaud seeing this change back to an avian species on the nongame plate, especially one that has such strong Michigan relevance,” said Good.

Michigan Audubon and the Kirtland’s Warbler Alliance encourage every Michigan driver to purchase the plate and support our state’s nongame wildlife work.

30 views0 comments
bottom of page