US Fish & Wildlife Service



Date of this Version



Published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1-2, (1998)


The first Kirtland’s warbler in North America was identified in 1851 from a specimen collected on Dr. Jared Kirtland’s farm near Cleveland, Ohio. Biologists did not learn where it nested until 1903 when they found a warbler nest in Michigan. Today, Kirtland’s warbler faces two significant threats: lack of crucial young jack pine forest habitat and the parasitic cowbird.

A pair of Kirtland’s warblers requires at least eight acres of young jack pine forest to nest, but usually needs 30 to 40 acres to raise a nest of young. Its exacting nesting habitat requirements, as well as cowbird parasitism, caused a drastic decline in its numbers and led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Kirtland’s warbler as an endangered species in 1973. Endangered means a species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a portion of its range, while the less dire threatened designation means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future.