Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Kirtland's at East Beach, Magee Marsh

  Had meant to drive to Crane Creek/Magee Marsh yesterday after work but a busy night left me exhausted and covered in dirt and oil.  When I woke up later in the day I read reports of a Kirtland's Warbler at the East Beach of Magee Marsh.  Kirtland's sightings have been almost an annual event at the East Beach the past few years.  It's usually only one bird and only for a day or two.  With the report yesterday I was thinking I had missed my chance for the year.

   The Kirtland's Warbler is one of the rarest new world warblers.  Its breeding range historically has been comprised of just a few counties in northern Michigan.  Their nesting habitat is the Jack Pine forests. Not just any Jack Pine forests but a forest comprised of 5 to 20 year old trees.  They make their nests on the ground under the lower branches.  If the tree is too young the branches are too small, if the tree is too old the lower branches are bare and do not provide adequate cover.  The Smokey Bear forest fire prevention policies in the first half of the 20th century led to an older Jack Pine forest with few suitable nesting trees and the Kirtland's population dropped to about 500 individuals in the 1970's.  Intervention by controlled burns of older Jack Pine tracts has allowed the population to rebound to over 2000 males and most likely an equal number of females.  Their breeding territory now includes part of the UP of Michigan and small areas of Wisconsin and Ontario.
  Anyway I saw this female this morning in the same area she was seen yesterday.  At the same time there was a male and another female at the end of the beach closest to the parking lot.

Bird of the year

Here are some other birds I saw today.

Hermit Thrush kicking up sand

Black-Throated Blue Warbler

Cape May Warbler

American Redstart

Northern Parula

Sandhill Crane

Baltimore Oriole

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