Climate change threatening North America’s bird population

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(CNN NEWSOURCE) — Global warming is threatening North America’s bird population.

Experts say changes are happening fast and that even the birds themselves are sounding the alarm, from the Baltimore oriole to the golden eagle, from the songbirds in your backyard to America’s rarest heron fishing in Tampa Bay.

“At this site, there used to be 50 to 60 nesting pairs,” said Mark Rachal of Audubon Florida. “This was only about 15 years ago and now we’re down to about five to eight parents.”

After a recent study found that the U.S. and Canada lost nearly 3 billion birds just since the 1970s, Audubon scientists took the latest climate models and looked into the future of over 600 species.

Experts claim the combination of changes in temperature, rain and vegetation have contributed to the declining bird population. Brooke Bateman of the National Audubon Society was the lead scientist and found that if humanity keeps warming the planet at the current rate, almost two thirds of the North American birds they studied could be driven to extinction. As they try to survive, many species, such as the common loon, will fly north and never come back.

‘”This is the bird that I just, I went home and my second grade I wrote a report about it and to this day, it’s been a special bird for me,” Bateman said. “Last year, I brought my 5-year-old daughter and we went and we we sat on a lake and she got to hear the land for the first time and it’s like magic. You see it on their face and its range is going to completely shift out of the us in the future with climate change. So you’ll no longer be able to go to that same place and hear that bird call anymore.”

More alarming than the loss of pretty songs and colors is what birds like the common robin are telling us about the speed of climate change.

“People usually think of robin as the sign of spring over the robins are back,” Bateman said. “But robins are actually over wintering and a lot of places more frequently than they used to and not leaving at all.”

Bateman said that if humanity can act fast enough and somehow hit the carbon cutting targets of the Paris Accord, 75 percent of the most vulnerable species could survive.

Rachal has been working to protect Tampa Bay for over a dozen years and has seen firsthand how even casual love of birds can inspire positive action, but while it was the canary that warned coal miners of invisible doom back in the day, these days it seems that birds of all shapes and sizes are being forced to do the same.


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