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Kirtland's Warbler News



When it comes to the jack pine, it's a double-edged sword. It's great because it naturally occurs here -- it's a natural part of the ecosystem on the outwash plains; it's the way the ecosystem renews itself.

But fire is also a heartless destroyer.

Saturday's fire, dubbed the Wilderness Trail fire for a road that runs east and south of the fire area, burned an estimated acres 2,400 acres. Some of the acreage was jack pine. Other areas were a mix of pines and hardwoods. In some areas the fire was contained to the ground and in other areas, the fire burned complete trees.

We don't know yet if any occupied Kirtland's Warbler habitat was impacted by the fire -- but we suspect there was. In fact, based on a map provided by the Michigan DNR, it appears that the trees we helped to plant during our 2013 Jack Pine Planting Day may have been burned. And we know that as of last year that particular stand was occupied. If there were any nests in there this spring, it's unlikely that they survived.

The adult birds, however, likely escaped and the odds are good that they will try to re-nest elsewhere. There's plenty of habitat nearby. The question is, will they be able to find enough area that isn't already claimed by another pair.

So what happens next? First, everybody is going to take a step back and let out a sigh of relief because it could have been much worse. Had crews not worked to contain the southern flank of the fire, it could have had an impact on businesses and Kirtland Community College on Four Mile Road. And the damage to KW habitat was kept to a minimum.

The Michigan DNR will make an assessment of the burn area to see if any timber can be salvaged. If so, it will be sold off and harvested. If not, the KW habitat will be plowed and either replanted or allowed to regenerate naturally.

In the for what it's worth department, it's likely that more KW habitat will be created by the fire, but it's just too early to say for sure. And the other piece of good news comes from a study done years ago showed that female Kirtland's Warblers preferred to nest in areas that had been burned to areas that are replanted. Fingers crossed there will be some benefit from this.

We wish we had more to share with you today. We'll be working to gather more information and share it with you later in the week.

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Updated: Mar 24, 2023

Registration for this year's Jack Pine Planting Day will open on April 5.

Jack Pine Planting Day is set for Saturday, May 6. This is your opportunity to help the Kirtland's Warbler by helping us plant three acres of trees as nesting grounds for the rarest songbird in North America.

This year's site will be on the south side of Four Mile Road east of Beasley Road. It's about six miles southeast of Grayling and is part of the Pere Cheney tract, which historically has been one of the most important Kirtland's Warbler Management Areas.

We'll start planting a 9 a.m. and will work to get about 4,500 trees in the ground by noon. This event will take place rain or shine.

More information to come soon. Stay tuned.

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We are excited to announce that entries are now being accepted for the Kirtland’s Warbler 2023 Young Artists Contest.

The contest is held annually and is sponsored by the USDA Forest Service Huron-Manistee National Forests, Huron Pines AmeriCorps members, Marguerite Gahagan Nature Preserve, American Bird Conservancy, Eastern National Forest Interpretive Association, and The Bahamas National Trust.

According to the contests rules, "Entries to the Kirtland’s Warbler 2023 Young Artists Contest must be original and demonstrate an understanding of the Kirtland’s warbler or any other creatures that live in northern Michigan’s unique jack pine forests, or its winter habitat site in The Bahamas."

So, if you know a teacher who might want to do a unit on Kirtland's Warblers and Michigan or an art teachers searching for a way to tie their art curriculum to something local this is an opportunity.

Past winners have come from Michigan and The Bahamas, but the contest is also open to students in Wisconsin and Ontario.

Entry deadline is March 10. You can find the rules - and more information, of course - here: .

Here's one of last year's winners:

Not bad, eh?

Sorry, adults. The contest is for children. But if you have KW art, we'd love to have you share it with us on our Facebook site at

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