Climate Change If you think about the place you live, it is vital. It is where you get your food, shelter, and raise your family. The paradigm of place, the ‘breeding and winter range’, is changing dramatically for our feathered friends. Birds have adapted to very specific environmental conditions during their life cycle. But climate change is altering the availability of food and suitable nesting and wintering habitats at some time during that life cycle. As temperatures change, so do the food supplies in a specific area. For example as temperatures change, insect bloom timing changes. The timing of the insect bloom is critical for birds, as they are adapted to that specific timing to feed themselves on arrival to their breeding grounds.
Audubon scientists are using decades of observations from the Breeding Bird Survey (for summer range) and Christmas Bird Survey (for winter range) combined with sophisticated climate models factoring in 17 climate variables, including temperature, precipitation, and seasonal changes. The models tell us about the range changes of birds occurring as a result of climate change. Scientists have predicted that of 588 North American bird species, 314 of them will lose more that 50 percent of their current range by 2080. For example, the Bobolink has a range that is projected to expand north into Canada’s boreal forests. This is a grassland-adapted bird, so that transition is not possible, and the boreal forests are undergoing further dramatic changes due to logging and oil and gas development. Species such as the Bald Eagle, Brown Pelican, and Common Loon all face similar increased risks due to climate change.
These examples are why we need to educate ourselves about climate change. We can bring hope by getting involved in our communities and by identifying strongholds for birds such as IBAs. Please learn as much as you can about what we can do to help our feathered friends.