Feds propose dropping songbird from endangered species list

Published 8:04 am Thursday, April 12, 2018

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich.  — The Kirtland’s warbler, a colorful songbird that was nearly wiped out by habitat loss and a wily rival, has bounced back and is ready for removal from the endangered species list, federal officials said Wednesday.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed dropping legal protections for the warbler but acknowledged efforts will be needed indefinitely to preserve jack pine stands where the birds spend summers and raise their young. They nest primarily in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula, although their range has widened to the Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin and Ontario as their numbers have risen. They migrate to the Bahamas for winter.

Another requirement will be continued vigilance against brown-headed cowbirds, which invade warblers’ nests and displace their babies.

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“Kirtland’s warblers were once on the brink of extinction and one of America’s rarest birds, but today they represent the power of partnership to recover imperiled wildlife,” said Tom Melius, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Midwest regional director.

The agency will accept public comments on its proposal until July 11 and will have until April 2019 to make a final decision.