Birds and Climate Change

Every large bird and wildlife organization has some kind of statement concerning climate change and it’s affects on bird populations. We will explore some of these statements and policies in this post.

Why not start with the group that almost everyone associates with birds, the Audubon Society.

The Audubon Society has their “Climate Change Campaign“.

“Leading scientists around the world agree that man-made greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels are causing global warming. Effects are already being seen worldwide. Long-term consequences are devastating, and solutions are harder to attain each day we fail to act.”

“Global warming impacts birds and wildlife in many ways. Birds and other wildlife will face habitat loss due to sea level rise, more frequent and severe wildfires, flooding and droughts, invasive species, changes in vegetation and precipitation, and loss of snow and ice, among others. Birds, like most species, are highly adapted to particular vegetation and habitat types. To compensate for the warmer temperatures, the ranges of these habitats may move closer to the poles or higher elevations. Habitat types that cannot colonize new areas may rapidly decline or cease to exist. New pests, invasive species, and diseases will create additional risks. The timing of birds’ migration, reproduction, breeding, nesting, and hatching are all highly adapted to match specific local conditions, such as the availability of suitable habitat and adequate food sources.”

In their, “Be Part of the Solution” they offer ways to consume less fossil fuels. This is the first item in their list, “Consider driving less by taking public transportation, walking, bicycling, or carpooling.” You can see that I’m doing my part this year. They also want you to take part in their citizen science projects like the Christmas Bird Count and their Great Backyard Bird Count in order to provide bird data to track the effects of climate change on birds.

We will look at the Christmas Bird Counts in a later post.

The American Bird Conservancy has their, “Threats to Birds – Global Warming” report. “All birds stand to be affected by global warming, but most at risk are those that utilize sensitive coastal habitats such as marshes and beaches, and island-nesting species. Hawaiian birds are particularly at risk both from habitat loss and the spread of malaria and pox to higher elevations with rising temperatures.” Once again, part of their solution is, “Walk, or ride a bike when possible; choose public transportation or car-pooling over driving”.

The Birdwatcher’s Guide to Global Warming is a jointly produced report by the American Bird Conservancy and National Wildlife Federation. It gives an in-depth analysis of how global climate change may affect populations of some bird species.  In addition to the main report, there is a supplement for each of the lower 48 U.S. States.
 The NWF has their, “Shifting Skies: Migratory Birds in a Warming World“, report. “The very landscapes birds inhabit and upon which they rely are showing the effects of climate-driven changes. Forests are now encroaching on the formerly treeless Alaskan tundra, and deciduous forests are moving up mountains, crowding out alpine coniferous habitats. Millions of acres of pine forests in the West are being decimated by unprecedented epidemics of pine beetles, and catastrophic wildfires are reconfiguring habitats throughout the West. Coastal beaches and marshes are being drowned by rising seas.”
 “Across all habitats, species of conservation concern showed higher levels of vulnerability to climate change than species not threatened by other factors. Vulnerability to climate change may hasten declines or prevent recovery. At the same time, increased conservation concern may be warranted for groups of birds, such as waterfowl and aerial insect-eating birds that are abundant now but that will be increasingly stressed as climate change impacts intensify.”
While they acknowledge climate change affecting birds they have never replied to my letter concerning their “extreme” birding fund raisers.
I’ve written about the American Birding Association before. You can read what I’ve written here and here. While they don’t have a statement on climate change they do have the “Code of Birding Ethics”.
So you can see that there is lot’s of information out there on web concerning climate change and birds. I’ll explore several things I’ve found on the web that are affecting birds now, in my next post.

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