Climate Changes Affect Bird Populations in Europe

Terms such as global warming, carbon footprint and climate change are becoming part of every day vocabulary as people become more aware of the far reaching consequences of mankind’s abuse of the planet. Researchers at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Durham University and Cambridge University have been monitoring the effect of climate change on bird populations in the United Kingdom and have reached some disturbing conclusions.

Researchers have found that birds which favor warmer climates, such as the Cirl Bunting, Cetti’s Warbler and Dartford Warbler, are becoming more common across quite a varied range of habitats in Britain as temperatures rise. Although birding enthusiasts in these areas may welcome their new visitors, it is an indication that climate change is affecting birdlife, and not necessarily for the good. In the case of some northern species, this climate change is having a decidedly negative effect which can be seen in the falling numbers of species such as Fieldfare and Redwing, as well as the Slavonian Grebe, a bird whose range traditionally extended its southern margins as far as Scotland.

Researchers examined population trends of 42 bird species in relation to climate changes over a period of twenty-five years and their findings confirmed what they had suspected – the changes in climate over the past twenty years has had a profound effect on birdlife. Professor Brian Huntley from Durham University’s Institute of Ecosystem Science says that, taking into account that the U.K. is in the middle latitudes of Europe, researchers involved in this project expected that the ongoing climatic warming would favor bird species from the south of Europe, while adversely affecting northern bird species and the results of the research confirmed this. Professor Huntley has used the results of the research to assist him in compiling “A Climatic Atlas of European Breeding Birds”, which points to potential changes in distribution of Europe’s regularly occurring nesting birds and confirms that urgent action needs to be taken to minimize climatic change in order to avoid catastrophic impacts on birds.

With a lot of attention being focused on governments to resolve these environment-altering issues, hopefully something will be done before it is too late for many of the little feathered creatures that share our planet.