- Associated Press - Sunday, June 8, 2014

GRAYLING, Mich. (AP) - Officials are inviting public comment on a plan to continue protecting the Kirtland’s warbler if the songbird is removed from the federal endangered species list.

The Kirtland’s warbler was designated as endangered in 1966. Its breeding grounds are primarily in jack pine forests of northern Michigan, although the birds fly south for winter.

“It nests in just a few counties in Michigan’s northern Lower and Upper peninsulas, in Wisconsin and the province of Ontario and, currently, nowhere else on Earth,” the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said in a posting on its website. “Its nests generally are concealed in mixed vegetation of grasses and shrubs below the living branches of five to 20 year old jack pine.”

The warbler was never very common, the department said, and “because of its restricted home range and unique habitat requirements … (it) probably has always been a rare bird.” The first known sighting was in 1851 near Cleveland.

State and federal agencies and nonprofit groups have worked to protect their habitat by logging and replanting the forests and controlling brown-headed cowbirds, which out-compete young warblers for food after invading their nests.

The agencies have devised a plan to ensure the warbler continues to survive over the long term. It will be updated every 10 years.

People wishing to comment can email the Department of Natural Resources or attend a July 9 meeting in Grayling.

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Online:

Kirtland’s warbler facts: https://1.usa.gov/1kQkNTn

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