Kirtland's Warbler
(Setophaga kirtlandii)


Picture of bird
© John Reaume
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

In Canada, the Kirtland's Warbler breeds in regenerating jack pine stands in Ontario and possibly Quebec in extremely small numbers (less than 10 individuals). The bulk of the population is found across the border, in Michigan. While the population is clearly well below sustainable levels in Canada, it continues to be reported sporadically, and evidence for seven nests has been found at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa since 2007. The species was first designated as Endangered in 1979, by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada due to its globally small population and restrictive breeding habitat requirements, and this status was most recently confirmed in 2008 (COSEWIC 2008b). This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Listing of the main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Endangered2008 
SARA (Canada)Endangered2003 
IUCN (Global)Near threatened2012 
Partners in Flight (North America)Stewardship List, Watch List Species2012 
Wild Species (Canada)At Risk2010 
Partners in Flight (Tri-National Vision)High Tri-National Concern2012 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic areaStatusReliability
CanadaLittle ChangeLow

Population estimate

Canada< 50 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation of world population

CanadaVery Low

Conservation and management

There are two main factors that are thought to limit this species' abundance: loss and degradation of jack pine barrens mainly due to fire suppression, and reduction in productivity due to brood parasitism by the Brown-headed Cowbird (COSEWIC 2008b). However, habitat loss may not be as important in Canada as it may be for populations in the United States, because there appears to be habitat still available in Canada (COSEWIC 2008b). Populations in the United States have increased since the 1990s after an increase in suitable breeding habitat as a result of management activities and two large wildfires in the late 1970s / early 1980s. Brown-headed Cowbird populations were also controlled during that time. Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, is working with the Canadian Kirtland's Warbler Recovery Team and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to both increase the survey effort and ensure management for the species on crown land through forest management planning (see Environment Canada 2006). For information on the legal status of this species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and to view the Recovery Strategy, see the SARA Registry.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Boreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Hardwood Transition, sub-region and priority type: Ontario Region
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Ontario Region