Michigans Rare Kirtlands Warbler
Digital Art - Digital Painting/photographic Art
Digitally hand painted tapestry of the endangered Kirtland's Warbler.
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FROM: Michigan Department of Natural Resources
The endangered Kirtland's warbler is one of the rarest members of the wood warbler (Parulidae) family. It is a bird of unusual interest for many reasons. 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. Its nests generally are concealed in mixed vegetation of grasses and shrubs below the living branches of five to 20 year old jack pine (Pinus banksiana) forests. The male Kirtland's warblers' summer plumage is composed of a distinctive bright yellow colored breast streaked in black and bluish gray back feathers, a dark mask over its face with white eye rings, and bobbing tail. The female's plumage coloration is less bright; her facial area is devoid of a mask. Overall length of the bird is less than six inches.
Because of its restricted home range and unique habitat requirements, the Kirtland's warbler probably has always been a rare bird. Scientists did not describe the species until 1851 when a male was collected on the outskirts of Cleveland, Ohio. That first specimen was sent to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The species eventually was named in honor of Dr. Jared P. Kirtland, a physician, teacher, horticulturist, and naturalist who authored the first lists of birds, mammals, fishes, reptiles, and amphibians of Ohio.
The diet of the warbler includes many different insect species at various developmental stages, including caterpillars, butterflies, moths, flies, grasshoppers, as well as ripe blueberries, when in season.
Male Kirtland's warblers arrive back in Michigan from the Bahamas between May 3 and May 20, a few days ahead of the females. The males establish and defend territories and then court the females when they arrive. The males' song is loud, yet low pitched, ending with an upward inflection. As the female builds a nest of leaves and grass, lined with mosses or deer hair, the male begins to bring her food. This duty continues through laying and the incubation process, with which the males rarely help. Four to five cream white eggs speckled and blotched with brown are laid in late May, followed by an incubation of 13-16 days. Both parents feed the chicks, which grow quickly and have left the nest within nine days, staying in the undergrowth and lowest branches of the trees. Within five weeks, the parents have ceased feeding their young.
Jack Pine Habitat
The jack pine forest community provides the primary nesting habitat for the Kirtland's warbler. This forest species is adapted to dry land conditions and has been present on the sandy outwash plains of northern Michigan since the retreat of the Wisconsin ice sheet about 14,000 years ago. A narrow, band of jack pine habitat can be found across the north central states and the province of Ontario.
2nd place in the Warbler contest
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A derivative work - digital painting - based on an image in the public domain. Textures by Jerry Jones/Shadowhouse Creations and textures purchased from Flypaper Textures.
Image Copyright - Lianne Schneider http://lianne-schneider.artistwebsites.com All rights reserved.
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September 18th, 2013
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