Friday, May 02, 2008

Unique to Michigan (well mostly) A Rare Bird

Some creatures are endangered because it is politically expedient to declare them so. Some are endangered for human reasons and others are endangered because they are extremely rare to begin with.

The Kirtland's Warbler is a bird found almost exlusively in just a handful of counties in the northern part of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, with one found on very rare occasions in Wisconsin or Ontario.

While the robin is our state bird, from time to time there is an effort to change it to this bird because of the fact that its summer nesting grounds is almost exclusively in Michigan.

The bird has never numbered more than a few thousand individuals on the entire planet.

Part of the problem in maintaining their numbers is that they require reasonably large stands of Jack Pines to live in, in fact this is their exclusive habitat. Local logging companies have, to their credit, taken responsible measures to make sure that there are plenty of breeding grounds for them and the state has tried, with mixed success to create more.

Their main danger is an invasive species, the Brownheaded Cowbird that is driving them from their nesting grounds.

A Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources link can be found here.

Another link specializing in birds can be found here.

A short clip of the birds singing (including audio and video) can be found here.

Or there is this from You Tube. (Excessively long.)

This rare bird is protected by not by draconian laws but by common sense conservation. Something the left will never understand.


Blogger Gayle said...

Shoprat, if it requires common sense to understand it, the left will always be out in the cold! :(

11:20 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

By the way, I loved the video. I'm going to send it to my retired Priest. He is a birdwatcher and will truly enjoy it.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

Why do you have to throw in "Something the left will never understand"? I'm sorry, but this isn't political.

After 7 years of running this country into the ground the Republican'ts still try to blame "the left" for thier mess.
You will note that this conservation program was initiated under Milliken, a moderate (left leaning, by Gayle's standard)Republican, and updated under Blanchard, a Democrat.

I just got one of those silly chain emails claiming that Obama is the Anti-Christ (when we all know that it is Juan Carlos, the King of Spain, right?).

Personally, having owned land near Grayling where this bird has it's greatest number, the only reason that this bird has benefitted is that they require a scrub jackpine habitat that is the result (4 to 5 years later) of clearcutting. If you drive along M72 between Grayling and Kalkaska you will see this area right before you get to Lake Margarethe on the north side of the road.

The loggers there used to cut everything and plant nothing. After much pressure from "the left", they began to remove hardwood and mixed forests and then replant, but only in pine, thereby destroying the diversity of the habitat, and the diversity of the animal populations as well. I've hunted deer in these areas and have first hand knowledge of thier conservation practices from walking these woods.

There are less deer, squirrels, and gamebirds in this area because there are no longer acorns from the oaks, shelter from the cedars, and even the soil composition has become more acidic from the excess amount of pine needles, which have caused worms and insects that used to live there to decline, impacting the avian populations.

The Kirtland's warbler has benefitted to some extent, but the diversity of the ecosystem has centainly been compromised.

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Americaneocon said...

We should all enjoy more time watching the wildlife. I love birds.

Nice posting, Shoprat!

4:28 PM  
Blogger benning said...

I hope the li'l fellows hang on.

4:34 PM  
Blogger The Vegas Art Guy said...

I hope they thrive.

And you got tagged, see my blog for details. Hope you don't mind.

5:53 PM  
Blogger Nightcrawler said...

It never ceases to amaze me, the things you find to blog about... pretty bird though!

11:27 PM  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

I've seen more Robins this year than in 21 years in my part of the mountains (4,000'). And they're fat too. Very good to see.


12:16 PM  
Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

The video did not show up. I'll check back later.

Brownheaded Cowbirds are a problem out West too.

8:58 PM  

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