Kirtland’s Warbler: A Tale of Survival

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Tiny bird avoids extinction thanks to efforts of many

The home of a tiny songbird can easily get lost among upgrading natural gas pipelines and clearing tree limbs from power lines.

Thankfully, our crews and engineers have been protecting the habitat of the Kirtland’s warbler in northern Michigan for several decades.

And that’s a small part of the reason why the warbler is well on its way to a healthy recovery and will be officially lifted from the federal Endangered Species List in November. The bird’s safety is part of our mission to help endangered and threatened species recover for future generations to enjoy.

Also called the jack pine warbler, the bird has its own festival in Roscommon in June and migrates hundreds of miles to the Bahamas for winter.

The warbler is a modern-day success story, said Margaret O’Connor, a veteran environmental analyst for Consumers Energy.

“It’s definitely been a survivor,” O’Connor said. “Now it has a second chance, and I am happy we were able to play a small role in making that happen.”

Committed to conservation

Kirtlands Warbler

Over the last 23 years, the Consumers Energy Foundation has contributed more than $30,000 to protect the Kirtland’s warbler.

The bird was among the first species listed as an endangered species (1967) and assigned a designated Recovery Team under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

In 1971, the warbler’s population plummeted to about 400. Federal, state, university and conservation officials came together to focus on the bird’s recovery and steadily growing the population to its current level around 2,000.

“The effort to recover the Kirtland’s warbler is a shining example of what it takes to save imperiled species,” said Margaret Evans, Principal Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Truly dedicated partners have worked together for decades to recover this songbird. I thank them for their efforts and applaud this historic conservation success.”

When working on any construction projects, we work to protect the habitat for the federally endangered Indiana Bat and Karner Blue Butterfly, and the threatened Northern Long-eared bat and Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake.

Over the years, we’ve also supported the recovery efforts of the state-threatened Trumpeter Swan, the Arctic Grayling and Sturgeon.

Doing the Right Thing

Our forestry and engineering employees go above and beyond to protect the habitats of endangered species, including the Kirtland’s warbler, O’Connor said.

“I am proud to work for a company where employees always care about doing the right thing,” she said. “We will take every win we can, and the warbler is a win. This is a success story we all can be proud of and we look forward to similar stories in the future.”

Protecting our environment and wildlife is part of our commitment to people, planet and Michigan’s prosperity. Our Clean Energy Plan supports this strategy while meeting our state’s energy needs for decades to come.

Learn more and join the movement at www.MICleanEnergy.com.

For more information about the road to recovery for the Kirtland’s warbler visit http://fws.gov/Midwest/Endangered/Birds/Kirtland/Recovery.html

Facts about Kirtland’s warbler

  • Also known as jack pine warbler
  • The Males are known for distinctive song
  • Named after Jared P. Kirtland, an Ohio doctor and amateur naturalist
  • Nearly extinct 50 years ago
  • It weighs 0.55 ounces
  • Spends spring and summer in southern Ontario, Wisconsin and the northeast Lower Peninsula of Michigan
  • Spends winter in the Bahamas
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