Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Birding Rondeau May 16th 2020 - Kirtland's Warbler Amazes

On Saturday May 16th, I figured I would go to Rondeau Provincial Park as the park had just become open to the public the day before - but I was unable to go due to work commitments. It was a gorgeous day and the birding was exceptional. I had seen Blake as well as many other birders out.

A Chatham-Kent birder named Peter Burke found a Kirtland's Warbler in the Rondeau Camp ground area and many were alerted to its presence. Amazingly, I was able to catch up with the bird and obtain a couple of record photos of the bird.

I will repost a little background history of the Kirtlands Warbler that I had posted a few years ago from this posting: https://dwaynejava.blogspot.com/2013/05/kirtlands-warbler-at-pelee.html

A Brief History of the Kirtland's Warbler:

Discovery in 1851 - A specimen was shot and collected on Dr. Jared Kirtland’s farm near Cleveland, Ohio(US FWS). The birds name obviously honours its finder . Oddly enough, 1851 was the year John James Audubon died. It must have been amazing to discover a new bird that was never described!

Wintering Grounds Found in 1879 - The winter range of the Kirtland's warbler was discovered in 1879 when a specimen was collected on Andros Island in the Bahama Islands archipelago.(Michigan DNR)

Breeding Grounds found in 1903 - It was not until 1903 that Norman A. Wood discovered the first nest in Oscoda County in northern lower Michigan (Michigan DNR).

Jack Pine Habitat Requirements:
-Requires pine habitat with trees between 6-20 years old.
-Prescribed burns (or logging) has provided more optimal breeding habitat for the birds.
-Kirtlands Warblers prefer a nesting site with Blueberry bushes as that is a favored fruit of this bird... cool!
-Michigan and US Wildlife employees have done an amazing job helping this bird's population recover.
-A successful breeding nest was discovered at Petawawa Ontario in 2007 (Drake).

Cowbird Parasitism:
Besides it habitat requirements, Cowbirds had been hurting the breeding success rates, so a successful cowbird management program has been put in place to reduce the numbers and increase the nest success for the Kirtlands Warbler. 

Improved Outlook for the Future:
This chart below shows a trend in the number of singing male Kirtlands Warblers in Michigan. Since 1990, a continual increase in the number of singing males is evident. Props to Michigan and the US-FWS for putting resources towards saving this wonderful species. I'm just a humble birder from Ontario, but perhaps Michigan should consider changing its state bird from the American Robin to the Kirtlands Warbler? :-)

Image Source: Michigan DNR

Its always a pleasure to see this species!

Good Birding,

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