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Michigan’s 'firebird' continues its ascent from near extinction

Kirtland's Warbler photo
Dan Kennedy
Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources
The Kirtland's Warbler was on the verge of extinction 50 years ago. It breeds almost exclusively in Michigan.

The Kirtland’s Warbler is an icon of northern Michigan.  With a brilliant yellow breast and distinctive song, the bird makes its home in young jack pine trees.  Once on the verge of extinction, a long-running conservation program is helping to restore the Kirtland’s Warbler population. Current State’s Kevin Lavery takes us up north in search of this endangered yet beloved bird.

The area around Houghton Lake and Higgins Lake in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula is renowned for its natural beauty and recreational venues. The woods and waterways of the Pere Marquette and Au Sable state forests are a destination for many who enjoy the great outdoors.

It’s also a region acclaimed for an endangered yet beloved bird. Fifty years ago, the Kirtland’s Warbler was in danger of extinction, but a series of conservation efforts are bringing this environmental icon back to healthier numbers.

Current State’s Kevin Lavery set off to find this striking bird in its unique forest habitat.

Kevin Lavery is a general assignment reporter and occasional local host for Morning Edition and All Things considered.
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