Continent could lose 389 of 604 species studied to threats from rising temperatures, higher seas, heavy rains and urbanization
Two-thirds of bird species in North America are at risk of extinction because of the climate crisis, according to a new report from researchers at the Audubon Society, a leading US conservation group.
The continent could lose 389 of the 604 types of birds studied. The species face threats to their habitats from rising temperatures, higher seas, heavy rains and urbanization.
Those at risk include the wood thrush, a well-known songbird, and the Baltimore oriole, the mascot of Marylands baseball team. The recognizable common loon could disappear, as could the vibrant mountain bluebird.
Bird extinctions are yet another face of the human-caused biodiversity crisis threatening up to a million animal and plant species. A related study from Cornell University last month found the US and Canada lost one in four birds or 3 billion total since 1970.
Birds are indicators of the health of our environment, so if they disappear, were certainly going to see a lot of changes in the landscape, said Brooke Bateman, the senior researcher who wrote the report. If there are things changing with birds we have to understand that the environment is changing for us as well.
Bateman said birds are an excellent lens for viewing environmental destruction, because they are visible and respond quickly. In the 1970s, humans realized the pesticide DDT was dangerous when birds were unable to successfully breed, she noted.
Birds pollinate plants, control insects and help forests flourish, so their disappearances could have ripple effects.
The report examined 140m records of birds current habitats from more than 70 sources, including sightings from birdwatchers. It used climate modeling from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to determine which birds might be forced to relocate.