Dendroica kirtlandii
Kirtland's warbler
Image of Dendroica kirtlandii

Photo by Brian Piccolo 

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Key Characteristics

A relatively large wood warbler with adults 5 ¾ inches (14.6cm) in length and weighing 12-15 grams. Adults with a yellow breast with black streaks confined to the sides; two white wing bars, and a heavily streaked blue-gray back. The distinctive white eye ring is broken at the front and back of the eye. The adult female is less colorful than the male, having gray cheeks, paler streaked sides and breast and a grayish-brown back. The Kirtland's warbler persistent tail-pumping habit is similar to that of the Palm Warbler (Dendroica palmarum) and Prairie Warbler (Dendroica discolor).

Status and Rank

  • State Status: E - Endangered (legally protected)
  • US Status: LE - Listed Endangered
  • State Rank: S1 - Critically imperiled
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically imperiled


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Grand Traverse12008
Presque Isle12010
Distribution map for Dendroica kirtlandii

Updated 5/16/2016. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Young Jack pine stands.

Specific Habitat Needs

needed in Dry northern forest

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Feel free to send questions and comments to Brad Slaughter at


Each year several thousand acres of jack pines are burned (occasionally), seeded, planted, and commercially harvested on a 50-year rotation cycle. This system is designed to provide enough suitable nesting habitat at all times to support the target population of 1,000 singing males. Kirtland's warbler breeding habitat is short-lived and progresses rapidly to an unsuitable condition as the trees age, so continuous intensive management practices cannot stop once reclassification or delisting occurs. Occupied Kirtland's warbler habitats are closed to visitors during the May 1 through August 15 (September 10 for selected areas) breeding season except for guided tours originating from the Grayling Holiday Inn or U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Office in Mio.

Active Period

Migration from first week of May to second week of May

Nesting from third week of May to second week of August

Migration from third week of August to fourth week of September

Survey Methods

An annual census of singing males by the USFWS and the MDNR uses straight line compass transects or in small areas, meander surveys.

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at [Accessed Oct 26, 2016]

More Information

See MNFI Species Abstract


Survey References

Technical References