Kirtlands wood warbler: Dendroica kirtlandii
Genus/Species: Dendroica kirtlandii (widely accepted as Setophaga kirtlandii)
Common Name: Kirtland’s wood warbler (widely accepted as Kirtland’s warbler)
Federal Status: Endangered
FL Status: Federally-designated Endangered
FNAI Ranks: Not ranked
IUCN Status: NT (Near Threatened)
Kirtland’s wood warbler is the largest species of the Dendroica genus (Sykes 1996). This species of wood warbler reaches a length of 5.75 inches (14.6 centimeters) with a wingspan of 8.75 inches (22.2 centimeters) (National Audubon Society 2011). Kirtland’s wood warblers are blue-gray with dark-colored dorsal (back) streaks and yellow streaks on their belly. They also have black markings on their sides and white crescents above and below their eyes (The Cornell Lab of Ornithology 2011).
The diet of Kirtland’s wood warbler primarily consists of small fruit and insects (The Cornell Lab of Ornithology 2011).
The weather determines the exact nesting time, as the Kirtland’s wood warbler will not nest during colder weather (Mayfield 1992). Nesting in Florida usually begins between May 16th and June 2nd (Mayfield 1992). Females use various plants and plant parts to build their nests on the ground including pine needles, pieces of wood, grass, sedge, and oak leaves (Mayfield 1992). The clutch size for the Kirtland’s warbler is three to six eggs, with females incubating the eggs for two weeks (National Audubon Society 2011). Eggs hatch between June 9th and June 26th. Juveniles leave the nest about nine days after hatching but are fed and cared for by their parents until they are six weeks old (Mayfield 1992).
Habitat and Distribution
Kirtland’s wood warblers nest in Jack pine (Pinus banksiana) that are 5 to 20 feet tall (1.5 to 6 meters) and 6 to 22 years old, and inhabit dense scrub during the winter (Mayfield 1992). Wood warblers primarily nest in Michigan and winter in the Bahamas (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 2011 (1)). In Florida, the Kirtland’s wood warbler can be found in Collier, Dade, Palm Beach, Martin, and St. Lucie counties (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 2011 (1)).
The main threat to the Kirtland’s wood warbler is the suppression of fire in its habitat (U.S. Fish & Wildlife 2011 (2)). Pines need fire to create the structure the warblers need for nesting. Cowbirds (Genus Maluthrus) also threaten the Kirtland’s wood warbler by laying eggs in their nests (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 2011(2)). Cowbird hatchlings are bigger and out-compete the smaller Kirtland’s wood warbler juveniles, which can result in the death of juveniles due to the inability of the parent to supply enough food (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 2011 (2)). Other threats include development and habitat fragmentation (National Audubon Society 2011).
Conservation and Management
The Kirtland’s wood warbler is protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It is also protected as an Endangered species by the Federal Endangered Species Act and as a Federally-designated Endangered species by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule .
Federal Recovery Plan
Other Informative Links
Animal Diversity Web
International Union for Conservation of Nature
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Michigan State University
National Audubon Society
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – Fact Sheet
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - Multi-Species Recovery Plan for South Florida
Printable version of this page
Mayfield, Harold F. 1992. Kirtland's Warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna.html/species/019
National Audubon Society. (2011). Kirtland's Warbler. Retrieved July 26, 2011, from Audubon: http://birds.audubon.org/species/kirwar
Sykes, P.W., Jr. 1996. Kirtland’s Warbler. Pages 197-210 in J.A. Rodgers, Jr., H.W. Kale II, and H.T. Smith (Eds.). Rare and endangered biota of Florida, Vol. V: Birds. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. (2011).Kirtland's Warbler . Retrieved July 26, 2011, from All About Birds: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Kirtlands_Warbler/id
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (1). (2011, June 26). Kirtland's Warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii). Retrieved July 26, 2011, from Environmental Conservation Online System : http://ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/profile/speciesProfile.action?spcode=B03I
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (2). (2011, May 23). Kirtland's Warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii). Retrieved July 26, 2011, from Midwest Region : http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/birds/Kirtland/kiwafctsht.html
Image Credit Photo courtesy of Lou George, USFWS