Quantcast

Audubon Society: North American Birds Are Threatened by Climate Change

Climate

Some of North America’s birds may no longer be at home on the range. More than half of 588 studied species could lose more than 50 percent of their flying, breeding and feeding space before the end of the century—because of climate change.

The bald eagle, iconic bird of the U.S. is among the North American species threatened by climate change.

Photo credit: Softeis via Wikimedia Commons

The researchers who discovered the precarious future facing so many species say they were shocked to find that rising temperatures could have such widespread effects on the continent’s birds.

The finding comes from one of the world’s most distinguished ornithological bodies, the U.S. National Audubon Society.

Gary Langham, Audubon’s chief scientist, and colleagues report in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS One that they used mathematical models and results from two long-established annual surveys in the breeding season and in winter to estimate future geographic range shifts.

Systematic Study

The research was based on huge amounts of data. The society’s Christmas Bird Count has been continuous since 1900, and provides a good estimate of numbers in those species that overwinter.

And the North American Breeding Bird Survey, a systematic study conducted between mid-May and July in the U.S. and Canada, involves tens of thousands of three-minute counts of every bird seen or heard at 50 stops along a 39-kilometer route.

The scientists also used three different climate change scenarios—as carbon dioxide levels rise in the atmosphere because of fossil fuel combustion, so the planet’s average temperature rises and climate changes—to explore the possible futures for bird species in a vast landscape that is home to everything from eagles to hummingbirds.

They found that 314 species would lose half or more of their traditional range.

Of this total, around 180 species would find that although they would lose the range they had, they would probably be able to acquire new feeding or breeding habitat, as conditions changed. But for 120, the habitat would shrink altogether—that is, there would be nowhere else for them to go.

The world’s birds are in trouble—and not just on land or on one continent.

Conservation Measures

One in eight species is threatened with extinction, although in the better-developed nations, there have been systematic attempts to establish conservation measures.

The Audubon study, however, found that the strategies devised and supported now to extend conservation might not be of much use in a world in which climates changed and habitat that had endured for 10,000 years was destroyed, degraded or exploited.

“We were shocked to find that half of the bird species in North America are threatened with climate disruption,” Dr Langham says.

“Knowing which species are most vulnerable allows us to monitor them carefully, ask new questions, and take action to help avert the worst impacts for birds and people.”

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Earth Has Lost Half of Its Trees Since Dawn of Civilization

Why Did 60,000 Endangered Antelopes Mysteriously Die in Four Days?

Ocean Plastic Will Be Found in 99 Percent of Seabirds by 2050

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By George Citroner

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and the World Health Organization currently recommend either 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (walking, gardening, doing household chores) or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise (running, cycling, swimming) every week.

But there's little research looking at the benefits, if any, of exercising less than the 75 minute minimum.

Read More Show Less
Mary Daly, president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, poses for a photograph. Nick Otto / Washington Post / Getty Images

It seems the reality of the climate crisis is too much for the Federal Reserve to ignore anymore.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Passengers trying to reach Berlin's Tegel Airport on Sunday were hit with delays after police blocked roads and enacted tighter security controls in response to a climate protest.

Read More Show Less
A military police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina, pets Rosco, a post-traumatic stress disorder companion animal certified to accompany him, on Jan. 11, 2014. North Carolina National Guard

For 21 years, Doug Distaso served his country in the United States Air Force.

He commanded joint aviation, maintenance, and support personnel globally and served as a primary legislative affairs lead for two U.S. Special Operations Command leaders.

But after an Air Force plane accident left him with a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and chronic pain, Distaso was placed on more than a dozen prescription medications by doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Read More Show Less
(L) Selma Three Stone Engagement Ring. (R) The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna

By Bailey Hopp

If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Preliminary tests of the bubble barrier have shown it to be capable of ushering 80 percent of the canal's plastic waste to its banks. The Great Bubble Barrier / YouTube screenshot

The scourge of plastic waste that washes up on once-pristine beaches and finds its way into the middle of the ocean often starts on land, is dumped in rivers and canals, and gets carried out to sea. At the current rate, marine plastic is predicted to outweigh all the fish in the seas by 2050, according to Silicon Canals.

Read More Show Less
Man stands on stage at Fort Leonard Wood in the U.S. Brett Sayles / Pexels

Wilson "Woody" Powell served in the Air Force during the Korean war. But in the decades since, he's become staunchly anti-war.

Read More Show Less
Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Nov. 8. Matt Johnson / CC BY 2.0

By Julia Conley

Joined by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Friday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders held the largest rally of any 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to date in Iowa, drawing more than 2,400 people to Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs.

Read More Show Less