The exact spot of the breeding grounds is not public information and in order to view the Warbler you must contact either Hartwick Park State Park or the Michigan Audubon Society. Tours are led from the visitor center. That is exactly what Deb and I did together with my brother and sister-in-law who reside in Midland, Michigan about 80 miles south of the Warblers.
Now upon our arrival, Michigan immediately became ensconced in one of the rainiest times of its history. Not just a 100 year rainstorm but a 500 year rainstorm. And rain it did as the town of Midland was flooding and streets were closed. Our first of two days to see the Warbler was a complete rainout as we couldn't get there in time for the 7am tour, if they even had it.
Day 2....... nice weather. There were two tours scheduled on Saturday, one at 7am and one at 11am. Your natural inclination would be to take the 7am with Warblers but, we are dealing with the Kirtland's Warbler and they 'nest literally 'in' the ground' and perch on trees no taller than 6-7 feet. So we opted for sleep, and ventured to the 11am tour. When we arrived at the visitor center, we were greeted by a pair of Evening Grosbeaks...awesome birds with a yellow forehead and eyebrow. In our tour, there were a dozen of us led by Bryant, a young man from the Audubon who was working as our guide for the summer during his college years. He was good, and he knew how to lead a tour as he dotted our time with naturalistic facts concerning the floral and wildlife.
Into our cars and we caravanned to the Warbler location as we followed Bryant's red Jeep. Out of the car we got and the first thing we heard was a singing male Kirtland's. All eyes were immediately led to the low Jack Pines.... But only the voice, no visual. Down the path we went....scaring up a couple of Nashville Warblers and hearing the faint song of a Vesper's Sparrow. More Kirtland's singing in the pines, no visuals though. Down the path once more....and suddenly a nice call from no more than 5 yards from the path was heard. As a group, we were now strung out down the path 20 yards or so, but in my sights....kerchung!...Got it....The Kirtland's Warbler low in the branches singing away. But I was the only one who saw. I felt bad --but no, I felt good....I saw the Warbler :-)
Onwards down the path....a few more 'heards'... Then, on a small branch, posing for us....was a singing Kirtlands's. All eyes on the Warbler please. All eyes, except the two people who had camera's that is, as they were 'back up the path'. By the time they came to the Warbler, the moment had passed. The slice of life in time, the perfect pose, now gone. "No Soup (picture) for you".
In the days of today with our current administration blind to the environment, it is nice to see and know, that other agencies such as our local Audubon and those across the country, still carry on the fight to help our environment.....