Kirtland’s Warbler

Kirtland's Warbler
Credit: Doug Greenberg

These Kirtland’s Warblers are rare, small songbirds with dark gray upper parts with some black streaks. Adult and juvenile males have black streaks on their brows and a dark black patch in front of their eyes that are not present in females. They also have white, broken eyerings.

They all have bright yellow throats, chests, and bellies with black streaking on their flanks. 

Kirtland’s Warblers were almost extinct 50 years ago. Conservationists were able to prevent their total extinction and though today, they’re still on the endangered list, their numbers are gradually rising. 

  • Setophaga kirtlandii
  • Length: 4.5 – 5 inches (11 – 13 cm)
  • Weight: 0.5 oz (14 g)
  • Wingspan: 7.5 inches (19 cm)


Kirtland’s Warbler only breed near the Great Lakes before migrating to the Caribbean.

Habitat And Diet

You can find Kirtland’s Warblers only in young jack pine forests. This is the main reason why Kirtland’s Warblers almost became extinct. Jack Pines regenerate only after fires. Conservationists used controlled burning to initiate the growth of Jack Pines so that Kirtland’s Warblers can continue to survive. 

Kirtland’s Warblers look for food on the ground and in lower parts of pine and oak trees. They will hop on the ground to look for insects like grasshoppers. They will also feed on the sap of pine trees. Hovering also yields moths, flies, and insect larvae. 

Kirtland’s Warblers’ Song:


Nests of Kirtland’s Warblers are placed on the ground close to the pines. Males have a tendency to return to their original breeding colonies and may have more than one mate. The female builds the nest out of grass, sedge, leaves, and pine needles and lines it with animal hair, moss, and fibers. 

She lays from three to six eggs that may take around two weeks to hatch. One problem that Kirtland’s Warblers encounter is that their nests are often parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds where there is no human intervention.

Fun Fact:

Kirtland Community College sponsors a Kirtland’s Warbler Festival, as an educational celebration of the Kirtland’s Warbler.