The Kirtland’s Warbler Alliance will the Kirtland’s Warbler Home Opener on Friday, June 3 at the Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center on beautiful Higgins Lake.  (Northeast Michigan).   The program runs from 6:30pm-9:00pm and includes a silent auction, presentation by Dr. Nathan Cooper of the Smithsonian Institute on migration routes of the Kirtland’s Warbler.

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Festivities continue on Saturday, June 4 with the Kirtland’s Warbler Festival at the Community Recreation, Activities and Fitness (C.R.A.F.) Center. The Kirtland’s Warbler Festival will include a wide array of nature-based activities developed around the official theme “Healthy Habitats. Healthy Communities.” From Kirtland’s Warbler tours in the jack pine forest and presentations about bird feeders and rare wildlife of Northeast Michigan, to a 5K race and kayak trip, the Festival aims to highlight and embody the connections that are formed between one’s community and the natural world surrounding it.

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The endangered Kirtland’s Warbler has a limited nesting range, primarily in northern Michigan.  Loss of habitat and predation by the Brown-headed Cowbird once dropped estimates of known breeding pairs to less than 200.  Concerted efforts by many groups have helped produce a strong recovery for the still endangered species.

Birders wishing to view the Kirtland’s Warbler Can take tours offered by the U.S. Forest Service and the Michigan Audubon society, in addition to attending the Alliance Weekened.  Most male Kirtland’s warblers arrive on the breeding grounds between May 1st and May 18th (means range between May 12th and May 15th), with the first females arriving a week or so after the first males. The best period for seeing the warbler is during late May and the month of June.  After July 1, viewing opportunities diminish.

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History of the discovery of the Kirtland’s Warbler, from the Bent Life History Series:

“Kirtland’s warbler was not described until 1852; yet the earliest scientific specimen was collected by Dr. Samuel Cabot, Jr., aboard ship near Abaca Island of the Bahamas in the second week of October 1841. Cabot, however, was on his way with John L. Stephens to Yucatan, and he became so preoccupied with his studies of the spectacular tropical birds of a country then entirely untouched by ornithologists that the little Bahaman warbler skin, brought back to Boston and deposited in his collection, remained unnoticed for more than 20 years (Baird, 1865).

On May 13, 1851, Charles Pease at Cleveland collected a male of the still unnamed warbler and gave the specimen to his father-in-law, Jared P. Kirtland, the well-known naturalist. A few days later, Spencer F. Baird, returning to Washington from a scientific meeting in Cincinnati, stopped a day in Cleveland with his friend Kirtland and was given the specimen to take back to the Smithsonian Institution. The next year (1852) Baird published his description of the new warbler, naming it Sylvicola kirtlandii in honor of Dr. Kirtland, “a gentleman to whom, more than [to] any one living, we are indebted for a knowledge of the Natural History of the Mississippi Valley.”

The complete account is available here.

Kirtland Warbler Tours
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Michigan Audubon

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