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Climate Change Threatens Many North American Bird Species

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According to a study by the National Audubon Society published on Monday, September 8th, more than half of all bird species in North America — including the iconic American bald eagle — are likely to suffer severe population decline by 2080 assuming the rapid rate of global warming continues. The Audubon study received a portion of its funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Statement from Chief Audubon Scientist

“The scale of the disruption we’re projecting is a real punch in the gut,” Gary Langham, Chief Audubon Scientist, noted in describing the report.

Langham went on to emphasize the often unnoticed importance of birds to human culture. “What could be missing along with those birds and their ecological niches are their very presence and songs — crucial components of our daily lives and the cultural fabric of our communities.”

More details on Audubon study

The new Audubon study analyzed more than 500 bird species and determined that more than 300 in Canada and the United States are looking at large climate shifts likely to reduce their habitat by more than 50% by 2080. The new environmental conditions will force birds to adapt to new habitats with different temperature ranges and precipitation rates in order to survive.

This innovative study was the first ever comprehensive species study, it will be taken into consideration by federal wildlife officials in crafting better strategies to conserve bird species who frequently require specialized habitats, such as forests, grasslands and coastal areas.

In one important consideration, the bald eagle, the national bird of the United States, could see its habitat decrease by 75%, according to the report.

Furthermore, all of the habitat of the common loon, the state bird of Minnesota, is likely to disappear in the continental U.S. Also, in Southern California, the black oystercatcher could be forced to give up coastal areas for more habitable climate in Canada and Alaska.

The Audubon study also notes that the American avocet, the eared grebe, the trumpeter swan, the white-headed woodpecker and the chestnut-collared longspur will probably face climate shifts that significantly reduce their habitat.

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