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Wildlife

Kirtland's Warbler population finally counted

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ANN ARBOR, MI (MPRN)— A rare songbird’s population was counted this summer after missing a scheduled survey last year because of the COVID pandemic.

The numbers are now in for the Kirtland’s Warbler.

Bill Rapai is the Executive Director of the Kirtland’s Warbler Alliance.

“We learned that the population is holding steady. The population right now is about 2,245 five pairs, and that's just about where it was the last time we did the census in 2015.”

As recently as 1987, the Kirtland’s Warbler population was down to fewer than 200 pairs.

The bird depends on the disruption of jack pine forests. Wildfires used to burn down the trees and the warbler nested in young jack pines. Now the trees are cut and new jack pines planted for Kirtland’s Warblers’ habitat.

Most of the birds were counted in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan, but a few were counted in the Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin and Ontario.