Hiawatha National Forest: Kirtland’s Warbler Habitat
879,000 acres | Located in the central and eastern portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
The Hiawatha National Forest is tucked between three of the Great Lakes, providing unique experiences for visitors. The forest is characterized by rolling hills forested with northern hardwood, white pine, and hemlock; flat land covered by red pine, jack pine, and aspen; and large open and tree-covered wetlands. The Great Lakes and surrounding areas provide unique habitats for a diversity of wildlife species.
Need for Trees
Kirtland’s Warbler is a rare songbird that nests in very few places on Earth, including just a few areas in Michigan. This small, colorful bird nests on the ground under the living branches of small jack pine trees. 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. A drastic decline in its numbers led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Kirtland’s Warbler as an endangered species in 1973.
The endangered Kirtland’s Warbler depends on dense stands of young jack pine trees for its habitat. Conventional jack pine plantations are planted at about 800 trees per acre, more or less evenly spaced.
Planting and Impact
The Hiawatha will plant about 120 acres of jack pine trees for Kirtland’s Warbler habitat. To provide suitable habitat for Kirtland’s Warbler, jack pine stands will be planted at an average density of about 1,100 trees per acre.
These plantings will create excellent nesting sites for the Kirtland’s Warbler, ensuring that the species is able to reproduce and sustain its existence.