Experts Estimate Birds Will Be Grossly Affected By Global Warming

April 15, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

According to recent research and data, as many as 20-30% of all animal species will be at an increased risk of extinction if temperatures continue to rise. Experts estimate that an increase of more than 2.5 °C in average temperatures across the globe could have a deadly impact on existing animal species as it will make survival more difficult. This is especially the case for many birds.

The results come in the wake of a report conducted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007. The changes will especially affect birds as their life cycles are often closely linked with the changes in season. If those changes become almost indiscernible, birds will have a hard time functioning as they should. Neotropical migrant species, for example, are signaled by changes in temperature, daylight and wind as to when they should begin their annual migrations to the south and when they should return. The changes in temperature also affect other aspects of the bird’s lives – such as the availability of flowers, seeds and other sources of food at certain destinations. Too little food could result in major deaths in certain bird species. In addition to this, encroachment on natural habitats of birds that rely on specific habitats is also pushing birds to the brink of extinction. All of these reasons tell us that global warming could desolate bird populations across the globe.

In fact, research over the past few decades already shows that birds are being affected by the change in climate. Some bird populations seem to be changing their range in relation to the change in temperature, shifting closer to the poles in order to find their ideal average temperatures and habitats. Studies have documented that several North American warbler species have already shifted their range northward during the course of the past 24 years – and warblers are not the only species to be affected. The Great Kiskadee, White-tippe Dove, Tropical Parula, Green Jay, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Tufted Titmouse, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Blue-gray Grantcatcher and Northern Mockingbird have also shifted their range – some by as many as 60 miles in the last 20 or so years.

Seabirds are also not unaffected by the trend and it has been discovered that the Sooty Shearwater has also shifted its migration routes northward. The changes in temperature also affect when these birds leave for warmer or cooler climes and some birds have been found to leave up to 21 days earlier than they would have just a few years ago. It is easy to note that the shift in bird behavior is a global phenomenon and so perhaps we should take it as a warning of how the irresponsible actions of much of the human race is slowly destroying the environment that we enjoy so much. Indeed, if trends continue it could be all over for the birds and we could be the ones heading north in search of some relief from the searing heat.

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