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Kirtland's Warbler Life History


Habitat Open WoodlandsBreeds in scrubby jack pine. Winters in low scrub, thickets, and (rarely) deciduous woodland.Back to top


Food InsectsInsects and small fruits.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

Nest Description

Open cup of grass, sedges, pine needles, and pieces of leaves, lined with rootlets, plant fibers, and hair. Placed in depression in ground, often with overhanging tuft of grass.

Nesting Facts

Clutch Size:3-6 eggs
Number of Broods:1-2 broods
Egg Length:0.6-0.8 in (1.6-2 cm)
Egg Width:0.4-0.6 in (1.1-1.6 cm)
Incubation Period:13-15 days
Nestling Period:8-10 days
Egg Description:White or buff, with varying amounts of fine brown spots concentrated around large end.
Condition at Hatching:Helpless.
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Behavior Foliage GleanerForages on ground and in midlevels of small trees, gleaning insects.Back to top


Conservation Restricted RangeKirtland's Warbler is a U.S. federally Endangered species and is on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action. The species is also listed as near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 3,600 birds, with 100% breeding in the U.S. The species rates a 20 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Kirtland's Warbler is a Tri-National Concern species and a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species. Fire suppression has led to a decline in suitable habitat for nesting. Nest parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbird has caused further population declines. Extensive measures are currently being taken to provide adequate nesting habitat for Kirtland's Warbler, and to control cowbird numbers.Back to top


Bocetti, Carol I., Deahn M. Donner and Harold F. Mayfield. (2014). Kirtland's Warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. (2019). Longevity records of North American birds. Version 1019 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2019.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. (2014). The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Partners in Flight (2017). Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, USA.

Stephenson, T. and S. Whittle (2013). The Warbler Guide. Princeton University Press, New Jersey, USA.

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