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Kirtland's Warbler


IUCN Conservation Status: Near Threatened

A rare bird of the Michigan jack pine forests, the Kirtland's Warbler is dependant upon fire to provide the small trees and open areas that meet its rigid habitat requirements for nesting.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
5.5–5.9 in
14–15 cm
0.5 oz
14 g
Other Names
  • Paruline de Kirtland (French)

Cool Facts

  • The Kirtland's Warbler requires areas with small jack pines for nesting. The jack pine requires fire to open its cones and spread its seeds. The warbler first appears in an area about six years after a fire when the new growth is dense and is about 1.5 to 2.0 meters (5.0-6.5 feet) high. After about 15 years, when the trees are 3.0 to 5.0 meters (10.0 to 16.5 feet) high, the warbler leaves the area.
  • The female Kirtland's Warbler is more selective than the male in her choice of habitat, and the best areas attract more females than males. The last residents of a tract that is getting too old are always unmated males.
  • The oldest recorded Kirtland's warbler was a male and at least 9 years old when he was recaptured during banding operations in Michigan in 1949.


Open Woodland

Breeds in scrubby jack pine. Winters in low scrub, thickets, and (rarely) deciduous woodland.



Insects and small fruits.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
3–6 eggs
Egg Description
White or buff, with varying amounts of fine brown spots concentrated around large end.
Condition at Hatching
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.

Nest Placement



Foliage Gleaner

Forages on ground and in midlevels of small trees, gleaning insects.


status via IUCN

Near Threatened

Kirtland'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.


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