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song birds

The Kirtland's warbler
National Audobon Society

Amidst concern about animal species on the verge of extinction, we wanted to look at some success stories: species that were highly endangered, but whose populations are now making a comeback in Michigan.

The Kirtland's warbler is one of those species. Fifty years ago, the songbird was nearly extinct. Today, it has an estimated population of around 5,000.

northern cardinal
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 


Malaria is incredibly common across the world in mammals, birds, and reptiles. So it's not surprising that birds in Michigan, just like birds elsewhere, suffer from a variety of malaria-causing parasites. 

What is surprising is just how many blood parasites you find in birds with malaria. 

A new study published in the journal Parasitology Research discovered a far greater range of blood parasites than expected in birds tested in southwest Michigan. 

A Kirtland's Warbler
Joel Trick / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

State and federal wildlife agencies say the Kirtland's Warbler can safely be removed from the endangered species list. 

The yellow breasted songbird breeds only in stands of young jack pines, trees found mainly in northern Michigan, but also in the U.P., Wisconsin, and Ontario.

The bird numbered only about 330 individuals at its lowest point in 1987, but it has since recovered and now numbers about 4,600.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service describes how the warbler got into trouble:

Joel Trick / USFWS

The Kirtland’s warbler is starting its migration from Michigan to the Caribbean.

By the time the song birds return to their Michigan breeding grounds next year, the Kirtland’s warbler may no longer be listed as an endangered species.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan wildlife is struggling this winter, just like the state’s human population.

State wildlife officials say the next few weeks will be critical for Michigan deer, pheasants, and other animals.

As the days grow longer, animals become more active. Their metabolisms pick up and they need to forage for more food.

But when the snow is several feet deep, and a layer of ice coats normal food sources, finding enough food can be a problem.