Percent Of PA's Birds At Risk Due To Climate Change, Report Finds

Evarado Alatorre
Octubre 12, 2019

Two-thirds of bird species in North America, already disappearing at an alarming rate, face extinction unless immediate action is taken to slow the rate of climate change, the National Audubon Society said yesterday.

"More than 50 per cent of coastal birds will have to adjust their ranges", said Audubon senior scientist Brooke Bateman.

Audobon released a report in 2014 claiming that half of the country's birds are vulnerable to climate change.

Under a business-as-usual scenario in which greenhouse gas emissions are not significantly curtailed, the analysis shows a precipitous decline in bird species during the breeding season in Canada's boreal forest, with some species shifting further north but many others struggling to find food sources that are no longer in sync with their migratory patterns. Next, they used the latest climate models to project how each species' range would shift as climate change and other human impacts advance across the continent.

While some species are predicted to die due to rising temperatures, other birds that thrive in warmer, southern climates will relocate to northern locales, a move already underway, Bateman said.

"A lot of people paid attention to last month's report that North America has lost almost a third of its birds", David Yarnold, CEO and president of the National Audubon Society, said in a statement.

Scientists believe warming up to 2 degrees could happen as soon as 2050, and 3 degrees could occur by 2080.

Last month, the journal Science published a study by a joint team of conservation biologists describing a grim picture: a steady decline of almost three billion North American birds since 1970, primarily as a result of human activities. "First is protecting the places that birds need and the second is addressing the underlying causes of climate change".

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If steps aren't taken to reduce climate change, Yarnold warned, the reality could be worse than the model's predictions.

All 16 Arctic species would be at high risk, including iconic birds such as the snowy owl and the Arctic tern. And along with them, so may we.

"A lot of people paid attention to last month's report that North America has lost almost a third of its birds", said David Yarnold, CEO and president of Audubon.

North America's skies could look very different if climate change continues to go unchecked.

The report states the threats brought on by climate change include drought, heavy rain, sea or lake level rise, and heat waves.

Renee Stone, vice president of climate for the National Audubon Society, called on elected officials to treat climate change as a priority going forward.

American robins, once recognised in northern U.S. states as a harbinger of spring when they return from their southern migration to avoid winter's chill, instead are staying put during increasingly warm North American winters, she said.

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow.

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