Risk of extinction for two-thirds of birds in North America

Audubon scientist Brooke Bateman looks at the birds in the Alafia Bank Sanctuary near Tampa

About two-thirds of America's birds will be threatened with extinction if global warming tops 5.4 degrees by 2100, according to a report released Thursday from the National Audubon Society, a bird-focused conservation group.

Audubon scientists used data gathered by biologists and birders across North America to create various models showing the effects climate change could have on birds in the next 80 years. "The good news is that there are actions we can take today to mitigate the worst effects of a changing climate".

To prepare the report - "Survival by Degrees: Bird Species on the Brink" - Audubon scientists studied 604 North American bird species using 140 million bird records, including observational data from bird lovers and field biologists across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Climate change will further exacerbate the challenges birds are already facing from human activity. But the Audubon report says the scientific consensus is clear: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, rapidly transitioning to clean energy and investing in habitat conservation can help avoid the worst-case scenario.

"Wild birds face a lot of threats of different kinds, but climate change just puts, sort of compounds those threats in a lot of pretty devastating ways", said Travis Audubon Executive Director Nicole Netherton.

"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.

Enter your zip code into Audubon's Birds and Climate Visualizer to see how climate change will impact your birds, your community, and see how you can help.

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.


As the climate warms, birds would be forced to relocate to find a more favourable habitat, and they may not survive this journey, the report said. "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".

"Birds are living off the same Earth that we are", Wells said. And along with them, so may we.

"We can see in birds, through their migration patterns and shrinking ranges, climate change is happening already", Yarnold said.

Because birds can migrate and disperse more easily than other species, they are often better able to adapt than other animals.

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

"We already know what we need to do to reduce global warming, and we already have a lot of the tools we need to take those steps".

In 2014, Audubon published its first Birds and Climate Change Report.

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