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Kirtland's Warbler - First Confirmed Record For NYS

Published June 02, 2014
Tags: Life List Happenings, Kirtland's Warbler, Common Nighthawk, Eastern Kingbird, Brown Thrasher, Vesper Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Indigo Bunting

Yesterday morning, Andy Guthrie (birder extraordinaire), was entering Hamlin Beach State Park with his window down. He picked out an unusual bird call that immediately alerted him to the fact that there was an amazing bird in the near vicinity - a KIRTLAND'S WARBLER! After some fast-paced hunting, he eventually tracked the bird down and found it, confirming this mega sighting! A big thank you goes out to Andy!

For those unfamiliar with this warbler's background, it nearly went extinct about 50 years ago due to the loss of its very specific habitat. Efforts to help the warbler have been successful and the species is slowly on the way back. The Kirtland's Wwarbler depends on dense areas of young, Jack Pine trees. In the past, these areas were created by forest fires wiping out the mature trees and then new trees growing back. Today, environmentalists are having the mature trees harvested and then replanting.

Yesterday, I heard that the Kirtland's Warbler is not exclusively nesting in the Jack Pine forests of Michigan but that Wisconsin and Ontario are both once again attracting successful nesting populations. The warbler is expanding out of Michigan because of  their increased numbers, and, in part due to the efforts of conservationists who are working to remove the threat of Brown-headed Cowbird nest parasitism, which this species is very susceptible to.  The Kirtland's Warbler's populations are still dangerously low but they are slowly regaining numbers and it looks promising for this beautiful bird.

Many birders were at Hamlin Beach yesterday and most got to see the bird.  The male warbler intermittently treated hopeful birders with his unique and beautiful song, making several appearances throughout the day.  The photos below aren't great as he seemed to prefer to be up high, but I did catch a few shots of this amazing, new state bird for New York.  I'm adding a few photos taken over the couple days prior - just to give you some decent captures to look at too!  ;)

By the way, this is actually the second sighting in New York State. Betsy Potter had a Kirtland's Warbler on her property a few years ago, but unfortunately, in spite of the fact that Betsy provided a very detailed description along with a sketch of the bird, the state didn't accept the record because it required a photograph or a second witness. Today, however, many photos were obtained, many witnesses were on hand, and the sighting will most certainly be accepted.
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Kirtland's Warbler (singing male)
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Kirtland's Warbler
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Kirtland's Warbler
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Kirtland's Warbler
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Common Nighthawk roosting - also at Hamlin Beach
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A backlit Olive-sided Flycatcher taken at Allegany SP the day before
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Vesper Sparrow
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Vesper Sparrow - he had a lot to sing about!
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Eastern Kingbird
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Eastern Kingbird
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Nesting Eastern Kingbirds - note the nest under the lower bird
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Brown Thrasher - singing just down the road from the Vesper Sparrows
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Indigo Bunting (male) at Carlton Hill MUA
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Indigo Bunting
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Indigo Bunting
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Chipping Sparrow at Carlton Hill MUA
Reply from: Metis Birding on 6/17/2014 2:08 PM
 What a treat! Amazing that Andy was driving by at just the right time to hear the Kirtland's call! Thank goodness for those that have been dedicated to bringing this bird back from the brink.
Reply from: Shelly on 7/1/2014 8:12 AM
 Does anyone know if the bird is still there? I will be in the area this coming weekend and would love to put my eyes on it!
Reply from: Sue on 7/3/2014 7:40 AM
 Hi Shelly, no, unfortunately the warbler was a one-day event. He was never found again the next day. Sorry to disappoint! ~ Sue