Conservationists toast comeback of the Kirtland's warbler

May 30, 2018

A Kirtland's warbler perches on a branch.
Credit Dan Kennedy / Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Environmentalists will celebrate the return of the Kirtland’s warbler this weekend.

The small songbird has been on the brink of extinction since 1973. It was put on the endangered species list that same year.

The Kirtland’s warbler population has come a long way since then. In 2013, biologists and conservationists proposed removing the bird from the list.

The work for conserving the species was shared between government agencies and conservation groups like the Kirtland’s Warbler Alliance.

“It’s an iconic bird,” says Bill Rapair, secretary of the Kirtland’s Warbler Alliance. “It means a lot to conservation. It means a lot to who we are as conservationists … wise stewards of our environment here in Michigan.”

Rapair says the alliance’s work is not yet done.

“We need to continue to do on the ground conservation work,” he says. “The Kirtland’s warbler requires new habitat to be created because we no longer let fire run across landscape.”

Since 2013, the alliance has held an annual event celebrating the bird’s conservation. This year’s event will be held Friday and Saturday at Kirtland Community College in Grayling.