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Michigan group prepping Kirtland's warbler to come off endangered species list

Photo by USFWS; Joel Trick

The Kirtland’s warbler is a songbird with an enviable travel schedule. The birds spend the winter in the Bahamas, and in the spring, they come home to the Great Lakes region – mostly to Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula.

The warbler has been on the endangered species list for 40 years. But it’s been doing well lately. Federal officials say the birds have met their recovery goal.

But it’ll take a lot of work to manage the birds even after they’re taken off the endangered species list.

Abigail Ertel is the Kirtland's warbler coordinator with the non-profit group Huron Pines in Gaylord. Her group is laying the groundwork for the warbler to be delisted.

“They nest in young jack pine forest which was naturally regenerated through wildfire,” she says.

Ertel says the forests have to be managed intensively to make sure there’s enough young jack pine for the birds.  She says also, the brown-headed cowbird is a threat to the Kirtland’s warbler.

“They are what are called nest parasites and so they lay their eggs in other birds’ nests and then those birds will rear their young,” says Ertel.

Ertel says they’ll need to raise enough money to pay for warbler management after the birds come off the endangered list.

Rebecca Williams is senior editor in the newsroom, where she edits stories and helps guide news coverage.