Help conserve jack pine forest – the Kirtland warbler’s paradise – by planting trees May 3
Looking for an opportunity to get outside and give back to Michigan’s natural resources? OnSaturday, May 3, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., volunteers will gather in Grayling to plant an acre of jack pine seedlings.
The jack pine forest provides the primary nesting habitat for the rarest member of the wood warbler family, the Kirtland’s warbler. Very restrictive habitat requirements result in 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. Kirtland’s warblers are ground-nesters that prefer jack pine stands more than 80 acres in size, where the nest can be concealed in mixed vegetation of grasses and shrubs below the living branches of 5- to 20-year-old trees.
“Birding is a rapidly growing hobby and a growing market – in 2011 birders spent $41 billion on trip-related expenses in the United States,” said Abigail Ertel, Kirtland’s warbler coordinator for Huron Pines, citing a recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report. “The Kirtland’s warbler is one of the rarest songbirds in North America, and northern Michigan is the place to see this amazing species, which creates an opportunity for local communities and the state to benefit economically.”
Biologists, researchers and volunteers observed 2,004 singing males during the official 2013Kirtland’s warbler survey period; 2,063 males were observed in 2012. In 1974 and 1987, when the lowest survey numbers were recorded, only 167 singing males were found.
“Huron Pines is excited to be partnering with the DNR to organize the jack pine planting day,” said Ertel. “We have a strong history of working with the DNR to accomplish conservation projects, and this volunteer event is a great way to celebrate this work while providing an exciting, hands-on learning experience for everyone involved.”
To join in on the fun, please register to attend at www.huronpines.org. Volunteers will meet for this free event at 9 a.m. at Staley Lake Road in Grayling, just steps from the Au Sable River.
Volunteers should bring gloves and appropriate footwear and expect moderate physical activity. A reminder with location and event details will be emailed to participants before the event.
Water, coffee and snacks will be provided. There will be sack lunches and a free gift from Gates Au Sable Lodge. Tshirts and e-subscriptions to Michigan Out-of-Doors magazine also will be available, provided by Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC).
Additional support is provided by MUCC, Gates Au Sable Lodge, Fairmount Sand Mining Company and Saving Birds Thru Habitat.
For more information on the Kirtland’s warbler, visit www.michigan.gov/wildlife.