Study Shows Two-Thirds Of Ohio Bird Species Vulnerable To Climate Change

Cheryl Sanders
October 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.

"Birds are important indicator species because if an ecosystem is broken for birds, it is or soon will be for people, too", said Brooke Bateman, Audubon's senior climate scientist.

Audobon released a report in 2014 claiming that half of the country's birds are vulnerable to climate change. Climate change, however, was not the major driver of the population plunge, said Ken Rosenberg, an applied conservation scientist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the American Bird Conservancy.

Though reducing emissions from vehicles and power plants is a major goal outlined in the report, Wells said conserving land also is key, not only to maintain more bird habitat but also to provide trees and plants that can absorb carbon and help mitigate greenhouse gases.

"Anything that happens to birds, they're an early harbinger", said Jim Bonner, executive director of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.

"By stabilizing carbon emissions and holding warming to 2.7 degrees above pre-industrial levels, 76% of vulnerable species will be better off, and almost 150 species would no longer be vulnerable to extinction from climate change", the report said.

People can type in their zip codes to Audubon's Birds and Climate Visualizer to see how climate change will impact their specific community and local birds.

The report comes on the heels of several assessments that track the current state of North American species, including a widely reported study in the journal Science, published last week, that estimates total population losses are now approaching 3-billion birds. "When I was a child, my grandmother introduced me to the common loons that lived on the lake at my grandparent's home in northern Wisconsin".

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

This need to find a new home warrants them in danger of extinction as it exposes them to new predators and new conditions they may not be suited for.

And more alarming than the loss of songs and flashes of color at the backyard feeder is what birds like the American robin tell us about the speed of the changes. And along with them, so may we.

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

"Climate change is both a direct threat to birds and other wildlife but also a driver of nearly every other threat, that exacerbates their effects", he said. "And then on top of the range shifts, we also have the pressure of changes in sea level rise, urbanization, extreme weather events that are going to affect these species no matter where they go".

"Our elected officials at every level of government must hear from their constituents that this is a priority", she said.

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