Although recently removed from the endangered species list this species depends on people to manage its required breeding habitat of certain aged Jack Pine forests. Cowbird trapping was also part of the management and that was stopped a few seasons ago. Part of the rational for that was the Cowbird population had plummeted in that area and apparently it was thought that was not due to trapping alone but due to a change in the surrounding habitat making it less hospitable to Cowbirds. This season I ran in to a few local birders in other Michigan locations (we've yet to run into another photographer or birder in the Kirtland or other breeding ground areas we go with the exception of the Smithsonian individuals below) who independently made the comment that they were seeing a sharp increase in the Cowbird population this year including one person who lived adjacent to Kirtland habitat.
This year we again ran into a Smithsonian team doing nest monitoring for Cowbird parasitism. As nests were just beginning to be built they didn't have a read yet on this season's parasitism. When WarblerWhisperer goes into this habitat we don't go into the Jack Pine forest but we work around the road. We don't go looking for nests. Time will tell whether Cowbird trapping will need to be resumed.
Michigan. WarblerWhisperer LLC photography trip. May 2021.