It’s been no secret to volunteers who participate in the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count on the East End that the patterns of bird movements have changed dramatically over the past half century, in part due to changes in climate.
A report issed by the National Audubon Society this week shows that half the birds studied in North America are threatened by climate change, including New York birds ranging from the wood thrush to the purple finch to the common loon.
The seven-year-long study, funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, examined 588 species of birds. It determined that 126 species are at risk of severe decline due to climate change by the year 2050, while 314 species are at risk by 2080 if the current level of greenhouse gas emissions continues.
A guide to the birds at risk in New York State is online here.
Ornithologists working on the report analyzed more than 40 years of North American climate data and records from the U.S. Geological Survey’s North American Breeding Bird Survey and the
Audubon Christmas Bird Count, looking for the links between where birds live and the climatic conditions — rainfall, temperature and humidity — that they need to survive.
“Now, more than ever, we have a responsibility to be the voice of the birds and aggressively combat the urgent threat of climate change by further reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the places that birds need to thrive and survive now and into the future,” said Erin Crotty, Executive Director of Audubon New York.
“New York State has been on the cutting edge of efforts to address climate change for decades, and we must do more to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and further protect vital habitat for birds,” she added. “While some species will be able to adapt to shifting climates, many of North America’s most familiar and iconic species will not, unless we act now.”