Climate Change and Birds

Audubon recently released its Birds and Climate Report, a comprehensive, first-of-its kind study that predicts how climate change could affect the ranges of 588 North American birds. Audubon scientists used three decades of citizen-scientist observations from the Audubon Christmas Bird Count and the North American Breeding Bird Survey to define the “climatic suitability” for each bird species—the range of temperatures, precipitation, and seasonal changes each species needs to survive. Then, using internationally recognized greenhouse gas emissions scenarios, they mapped where each bird’s ideal climatic range may be found in the future as the climate changes. These maps serve as a guide to how each bird’s current range could expand, contract, or shift across three future time periods (2020, 2050, and 2080).

Of the 588 North American bird species Audubon studied, more than half are likely to be in trouble. Our models indicate that 314 species will lose more than 50 percent of their current climatic range by 2080. Of the 314 species at risk from global warming, 126 of them are classified as climate endangered. These birds are projected to lose more than 50 percent of their current range by 2050. The other 188 species are classified as climate threatened and expected to lose more than 50 percent of their current range by 2080 if global warming continues at its current pace.

Learn more about climate threatened and endangered birds in Colorado.
What You Can Do

Create a Bird-Friendly Yard: Healthy birds will be better equipped to face the challenges of a warming world. Commit to creating safe spaces for birds in your home and community by using fewer pesticides, letting dead trees stand, installing bird baths, and converting lawns and gardens to native plants. School grounds, parks, vacant lots, and common areas can all be “bird-scaped,” too. Learn more at Audubon at Home.

Get Involved With Your Local Important Bird Area: Protect the places birds need most today and in the future by pitching in with Audubon’s IBA program, which identifies and conserves areas that are vital to birds and biodiversity. You can help with IBA restoration, cleanup, citizen science, and field trips. Chatfield State Park and the surrounding area is an IBA, and the Audubon Center is located in the IBA. We offer a variety of programs, events, and volunteer activities to help you get involved with your local IBA. Check out our list of Field Trips.

Put Birds on Your Community’s Agenda: Begin a conversation with your neighbors, colleagues, and local leaders about why it’s important to you to protect your community’s birds, and share what you’re doing on behalf of birds. Reach more people by writing a letter to your newspaper, speaking at a community event, or visiting a local school.

Meet With Local Decision Makers: Share this science with state wildlife agencies, city parks departments, extension services, and other groups that manage our natural resources to illustrate how global warming imperils birds, and ask decision makers how they are planning to address global warming. For more information on how to help decision makers use and integrate Audubon’s science, email climatescience@audubon.org.

Support Policies That Lower Emissions: Urge leaders at the local, state, and national levels to enact policies that lower greenhouse gas emissions and support clean energy. Renewable portfolio standards, energy efficiency targets, and other proactive measures reduce emissions and will limit the effects of global warming on birds. Put these policies on your leaders’ agendas, and publicly support efforts to make them stick.

For more information, visit The Audubon Climate Report.