By: US Forest Service
The Huron-Manistee National Forests of northern Michigan, USA, is hosting the annual Kirtland’s Warbler Young Artists’ Calendar Contest once again this year. Each year, wildlife staff and educators visit schools and reach out to communities in Michigan, Wisconsin, Canada, and The Bahamas to invite students to learn about the rare Kirtland’s warbler and their unique habitat. Students are then invited to create artwork depicting the Kirtland’s warbler or other wildlife and plants of the bird’s habitat.
The Kirtland’s warbler nests and raises young in the young jack pine forests of northern Michigan, Wisconsin, and southern Ontario. The birds then migrate to the Bahamas every year to spend winter in the dense coppice shrubland found on the islands.
The Kirtland’s warbler was one of the first species to be listed on the Endangered Species List in 1973 by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The bird was removed from the list in 2018 due to a successful recovery effort, having rebounded from a low population of approximately 330 birds. The Kirtland’s warbler population is currently estimated at over 4,500 birds.
While the birds are primarily in the Great Lakes region and the Bahamas, students in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade all around the world are allowed to participate in this contest.
“This little bird is thriving due to a very successful on-going conservation effort that is only possible through many agencies, partner organizations, and individual people working together. We want children to know that every little bit and every person helps, so we don’t want to exclude any kid that wishes to participate” said wildlife biologist Dana Meder. Meder is the district biologist for the Mio Ranger District of the Huron-Manistee National Forests, which is home to approximately 25% of all Kirtland’s warblers and oversees the calendar contest.
Participating students are encouraged to learn about Kirtland’s warblers and their unique summer and winter habitats, as well as the other species who call those forests home, and then create a drawing or other 2-dimensional piece of art showing what they learned. Artwork must be original creations, including any digital artwork. Please review the contest entry rules and include a filled out entry form with all submissions.
Winning artwork and honorable mentions will be featured in the 15-month 2024-2025 Kirtland’s Warbler Young Artists’ Calendar. Winning students will also receive a prize bag and free copy of the calendar. Winners and honorable mentions will be announced on or around April 1, 2024.
If educators are interested in a virtual or self-guided presentation packet about the Kirtland’s warbler, please contact Dana Meder dana.meder [@] usda.gov and/or Alison Staelgraeve alison.staelgraeve [@] usda.gov for more information.
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