Nesting Instincts

On Caring for the Habitat of the Human Family

Setophaga kirtlandii is the scientific name for Kirtland's warbler, a rare bird of Michigan's jack pine forests. These birds insist on nesting on the ground in large stands of jack pines, beneath the lower branches, which shield each nest. And the jack pines must be young—6 to 20 years old—and between 5 and 20 feet tall. The upper branches of older trees block the sun, causing the lower, sheltering branches to die, and when this happens, the warblers must find other nesting grounds.

For many years, Michigan had plenty of young jack pines for the warblers. Under natural conditions, their nesting habitat is produced by fire. Fire has always occurred naturally in these forests, and jack...


is the executive editor of Salvo and Touchstone magazines.

This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #30, fall 2014 Copyright © 2020 Salvo |


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