Endangered Piping Plover and Kirtland’s Warbler See Increases in Population

By Chelsea Richardson

In Michigan there are 12 endangered, nine threatened and one candidate species, as well as two species that have been proposed for listing as endangered.

Piping Plover

Piping Plover. Photo by Rick Baetsen

The term “endangered” means a species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a portion of its range, while the “threatened” designation means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future.

Endangered species in Michigan include the Michigan monkey-flower,  American burying beetle, Hungerford’s crawling water beetle, karner blue butterfly, Hine’s emerald dragonfly, clubshell, northern riffleshell, rayed bean, snuffbox, Kirtland’s warbler, piping plover, and the Indiana bat.

The State of Michigan has been taking action in helping populations of these endangered species increase. An active recovery program, aided by many volunteers, has helped the piping plover population. The piping plover is a small shorebird that nests on the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior and is listed as an endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act.  In 2008, there were only 123 piping plovers, 63 breeding pairs. Of those, 53 pairs were found nesting in Michigan while 10 were found in surrounding states. In 2007, the first piping plover nest was discovered in the Great Lakes region of Canada, the first in 30 years. Since then the number of nesting pairs has increased to four. In 2009, a nest was found on the Lake Michigan shoreline in Illinois, also the first to be found in 30 years.

Karner Blue Butterfly

Karner Blue Butterfly. Photo from MNA Archives.

Another Michigan success is the Kirtland’s warbler, which is a small songbird with a bluish-gray face and back and a yellow throat, chest and belly.  In 2011, a total of 1,828 males were counted, an increase from 1,773 in 2010. In Michigan, 1,805 were counted with the others found in Wisconsin and Ontario, the fifth consecutive year that nesting has occurred outside Michigan.  The Kirtland’s Warbler Recovery Team has a working relationship with Bahamians to track the warblers wintering habitat and to ensure its protection in the Bahamas.  In the Bahamas, over 230 Kirtland’s warblers were marked with colored bands during the winters of 2002-2003.

For a full list of Michigan endangered and threatened species, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.

MNA is working hard to protect the land these and other species call home.  By protecting Michigan’s rare, threatened and endangered species, together we build a brighter future. Visit our website to learn more.


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