Photo by David Kenyon, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment
Visitors heading north this summer have a new reason to stop at the Michigan Department of Transportation Rest Area just north of the I-75/US-127 junction—a Michigan Historical Marker celebrating the decades-long work of conservationists to save the Kirtland’s warbler.
“One of the World’s Rarest Birds”
The Kirtland’s warbler is one of the world’s rarest birds. It lives in Michigan during the summer months and flies south to the Bahamas for the winter. It was named after Dr. Jared Kirtland, whose Ohio farm provided the first identified specimen in 1851. The small blue-gray bird has a bright yellow breast and a black streak on its back. It only nests in the grass at the bottom of young jack pine trees; this specific type of habitat is found in Michigan’s northeastern Lower Peninsula, making it a popular spot for the endangered bird. The population has rebounded from just 167 known nesting pairs in 1974 to more than 1,700 pairs as of 2007.