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Kirtland's Warbler News


A Kirtland's Warbler was found in Cape May, New Jersey, yesterday. That's unusual given that the Kirt's usual fall migratory path is from the jack pine to the Carolina coast, where it then makes the jump to The Bahamas.

This morning, the Erie Bird Observatory posted this Tweet about the lack of bird movement in the area along the Atlantic coast where Hurricane Ian was having an impact on the Carolinas.

It makes you wonder if that KW in New Jersey sensed there was trouble ahead, rerouted east, and decided to hang out in the dunes for a couple of day.

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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.

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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!

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