Migratory Birds Are Failing to Adapt to Climate Change

Migratory Birds Are Failing to Adapt to Climate Change
Source: Gizmodo

New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Tuesday shows that the climate crisis may be seriously messing with North American birds’ migration patterns, and the consequences could be dire.

The researchers examined monitoring data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey, which biologists started in the 1960s in response to changes in bird populations. It has since been populated with massive amounts of citizen scientists’ data. By plugging that data into a species distribution model, the scientists examined how the breeding patterns of 32 eastern North American bird species shifted from 1972 to 2014. They found that over that 43 year period, different kinds of bird species’ ranges of migration have changed in different ways, with particularly bad news for birds that migrate from the tropics.

Birds in North America can be broken into three categories. There’s resident birds—such as scavenging birds of prey like black vultures, game birds like wild turkeys, and many varieties of woodpeckers and owls—which are able to find adequate reserves of food and tolerable temperatures for breeding all year round in one region and therefore don’t migrate. Then there’s temperate birds, including cardinals and many wren varieties, which migrate south for the winter within North America. A third type of bird species, known as neo-tropical, breed in Canada and the U.S. during summer and travel to the neotropical locations of Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean each winter.



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