Kirtland's Warbler Dendroica kirtlandii breeds in young jack pine Pinus banksiana forests on sandy soils in Michigan's lower peninsula, where there were 502 censused singing males in 1951 and 167 in 1974 and 1987. An ongoing control programme for the Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater, a nest parasite, resulted in immediate and continued improvement in warbler reproductive success which was not, however, matched by an increase in warbler numbers until the 1990S. From three 1,000 ha reserves in the 1960s, currently over 54,000 ha are managed for the warbler. Despite the establishment of managed plantations, over 70% of arblers censused in the past 15 years have occupied habitat created by wildfires. Optimal habitat consists of more than 5,000 trees per hectare in a mosaic of dense patches interspersed with small openings. Nearly 70% of adult and 30% of juvenile warblers departing for the Bahamian wintering grounds return each spring, and the Michigan singing male population increased from 212 (1989) to 397 (1992) as abundant habitat, resulting from a 1980 wildfire, became available at Mack Lake. This suggets that lack of optimal habitat in Michigan has been the species's major problem.
Additional publication details
The conservation management of Kirtland's warbler Dendroica kirtlandii