National Audubon Society Reports Impacts of Climate Change on North America’s Birds

Burrowing Owl – According to the National Audubon Society, by 2080, this diurnal owl species could lose 77 percent of its breeding range.

The National Audubon Society recently released a comprehensive study of the impact of climate change on birds, detailing the prospects for 588 species found in Alaska, Canada and the continental U.S.

The forecast isn’t good, according to Chad Wilsey, one of the study’s authors. Of the species covered in the report, “more than half are likely to be in trouble,” said Wilsey. “Our models indicate that 314 species will lose more than 50 percent of their current climatic range by 2080.”

Nearly 60% of the 305 relatively widely distributed bird species found in North America in winter are on the move, shifting their ranges northward by an average of 35 miles. Audubon scientists analyzed 40 years of citizen-science Christmas Bird Count data — and their findings provide new and powerful evidence that global warming is having a serious impact on natural systems.

Northward movement was detected among species of every type, including more than 70 percent of highly adaptable forest and feeder birds.

Only grassland species were an exception – with only 38 percent mirroring the northward trend. But far from being good news for species like Eastern Meadowlark and Henslow’s Sparrow, this reflects the grim reality of severely-depleted grassland habitat and suggests that these species now face a double threat from the combined stresses of habitat loss and climate adaptation.

The data was collected from two different widespread and ongoing compilations of information submitted by birders: the Audubon Christmas Bird Count and the U.S. Geological Survey’s North American Breeding Bird Survey.

The importance of the contributions from citizen scientists and amateur ornithologists to those surveys can’t be overestimated, according to Matt Reetz, the executive director of the Madison chapter of the Audubon Society.

“These are data that were collected by average, everyday citizens throughout the U.S. and Canada,” he said. “And a lot of folks in Wisconsin contributed to this data set over the years.”

Reliable data is important, but the real challenge is to apply it for meaningful results.

“We get to take the results of this work and apply it to conservation on the ground,” Reetz said.

Sometimes the effects of climate change can seem distant — for example, when Pacific Ocean islands are at risk of being submerged. But Reetz said that the consequences are also much closer to home.

“There are real, major impacts on some of the bird species that we as Wisconsinites grew up loving,” he said. “We are very familiar with them, they’re species that are embedded in our culture and they are at risk here.”

About Mike Neuman

Identical twin; Long-time advocate of protection of our environment; Married; Father to three sons; Grandfather to one granddaughter; Born and raised in Wisconsin; Graduate of University of Wisconsin; post graduate degrees in agricultural economics and Water Resources Management fro UWMadison; Former School Crossing Guard for City of Madison; Bike to Work for 31 years with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Retired from DNR in 2007; Biked to school crossing guard site 2 X daily for 7 years retiring in 2019; in addition to being an advocate of safeguarding our environment, I am also an advocate for humane treatment of animal, children, and people in need of financial resource for humane living. I am presently a Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Madison, Wisconsin. I oppose all long (>500 miles) distance travel (via fossil fuel burning) for nonessential purposes and all ownership of more than one home. I am opposed to militarism in any form particularly for the purpose of monetary gain. I am a Strong believer in people everywhere having the right to speak their minds openly, without any fear of reprisal, regarding any concerns; especially against those in authority who are not acting for the public good?in a timely fashion and in all countries of the world not just the U S.. My identical twin, Pat, died in June 2009. He was fired from his job with the National Weather Service despite having a long and successful career as a flood forecaster with the Kansas City National Weather Service. He took a new position in the Midwest Regional Office in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, Pat’s work for the NWS went sour after he began to see the evidence for concern about rising global temperatures shortly after relocating to Minneapolis, and how they appeared to effect of flooding on the Red River that flows out of Canada before entering the U.S. in North Dakota. . Pat and I conversed on a regular basis with other scientists on the Yahoo Group named “Climate Concern “ and by personal email. The NWS denied his recommendation to give his public presentation o n his research at the “Minneapolis Mall of America” in February 2000, which deeply affected h,im. I will h He strongly believed the information ought be shared with the public to which I concurred. That was the beginning of the vendetta against my brother, Patrick J. Neuman, for speaking strongly of the obligations the federal government was responsible for accurately informing the citizenry. A way great similar response to my raising the issue of too many greenhouse gases being emitted by drivers of vehicles on Wisconsin highway system, my immediate supervisors directed: “that neither global warming, climate change nor the long term impacts upon the natural resources of Wisconsin from expansion of the state highway system were to be any part of my job requirements, and that I must not communicate, nor in a memorandum to all the bureau, shall any person who works in the same bureau I do communicate with me, neither verbally on the phone, by email.

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