A recently-released, in-depth report by the National Audubon Society shows that global warming poses a serious threat to a majority of North American bird species. In California, the report concludes that global warming threatens the survival of 170 bird species in the coming decades. This includes iconic California birds such as the brown pelican, Allen’s hummingbird, and yellow-billed magpie.
The study shows a direct link between where birds live and the specific climatic conditions that support each species. In developing the models, Audubon ornithologists analyzed 30 years of climate data and an extensive database of historical bird records. Understanding the connection between climate factors and bird distribution helps project where birds will likely to be able to survive as future conditions change.
Shifts now being seen in local precipitation levels, temperature ranges, and the dates of seasonal on-sets may have catastrophic consequences for certain
bird species. While some species may be able to adapt to shifting climates, many other North American bird species will face an increased risk of extinction. The study predicts the ranges of almost 600 bird species under future climate scenarios, and finds that a majority of the species will lose at least 50 percent of their current range by 2080 if present trends continue.
How can the threat be lessened? The current and future territories that birds need to survive must be protected. And the severity of climate change needs to be reduced by cutting back on the release of greenhouse gases that drive global warming.
BVAS is trying to do its part. Last year, BVAS completed several projects to improve energy efficiency at the Nature Center, earning “green” certification from the City of Oceanside. In January, it acted to preserve habitat with the acquisition of the lagoon parcel and establishment of the BVAS Wetlands Reserve. It hopes to conserve more land in 2016.
Future articles in the Lagoon Flyer will provide updates on our understanding of climate change and its impact on birds. BVAS will be exploring how climate change affects our local birdlife, and what specific actions it and its members can take to ad-dress this threat to our environment.
—Contributors to this article included Joan Herskowitz, Andy Mauro, Natalie Shapiro, and National Audubon.