Enter your zip code into Audubon’s Birds and Climate Visualizer and it will show you how climate change will impact your birds and your community and includes ways you can help.
DURHAM (October 10, 2019) – Today, the National Audubon Society announced a groundbreaking climate report, Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink, showing how birds are impacted in North Carolina and across the country. “Two-thirds of America’s birds are threatened with extinction from climate change, but keeping global temperatures down will help up to 76 percent of them. There’s hope in this report, but first, it’ll break your heart if you care about birds and what they tell us about the ecosystems we share with them. It’s a bird emergency,” said David Yarnold, (@david_yarnold), CEO and president of Audubon.
“A lot of people paid attention to last month’s report that North America has lost nearly a third of its birds. This new data pivots forward and imagines an even more frightening future,” Yarnold said. “And, you can use a first-of-its kind web tool to find threatened birds in your zip code, as well as a list of things everyone can do.”
Audubon scientists studied 604 North American bird species using 140 million bird records, including observational data from bird lovers and field biologists across the country.
Audubon’s zip code-based tool, the Birds and Climate Visualizer, helps users understand the impacts to birds where they live, making climate change even more local, immediate and, for tens of millions of bird fans, deeply personal.
“Birds are our early warning system and they are sending us a strong message – it’s time to act on climate. The red lights are blinking; we’re heading toward the iceberg. The good news is that we have time to change course – catastrophe isn’t inevitable, but we have to act now,” said Andrew Hutson, Audubon North Carolina executive director and vice president of the National Audubon Society.
Increasing temperatures can alter the distribution of plants and other animals that birds need for nesting, protection, and food. In North Carolina, the study shows more than 200 species that breed, winter, and migrate through our state are at risk, including many familiar and beloved backyard and forest birds like the Wood Thrush, American Goldfinch, and Brown-headed Nuthatch. More than half of the climate-vulnerable breeding birds in our state are forest dwellers, and most of these are found at mid- to higher-elevations, including Golden-winged Warblers and Cerulean Warblers.
The study shows that hotter spring temperatures will lead to dryer forests, putting new pressures on birds and their food supplies. Along the coast, sea level rise will lead to catastrophic habitat lost. Vulnerable birds that depend on the North Carolina coast include American Black Duck and Tundra Swan. These are threats that we face along with birds, providing further evidence that their fate is linked to our own futures.
“Birds are important indicator species, because if an ecosystem is broken for birds, it is or soon will be for people too,” said Brooke Bateman, Ph.D., the senior climate scientist for the National Audubon Society. “When I was a child, my grandmother introduced me to the Common Loons that lived on the lake at my grandparent’s home in northern Wisconsin. Those loons are what drive my work today and I can’t imagine them leaving the U.S. entirely in summer but that’s what we’re facing if trends continue.”
Dr. Bateman and her team also studied climate-related impacts on birds across the lower 48 states, including sea level rise, Great Lakes level changes, urbanization, cropland expansion, drought, extreme spring heat, fire weather and heavy rain.
“We already know what we need to do to reduce global warming, and we already have a lot of the tools we need to take those steps. Now, what we need are more people committed to making sure those solutions are put into practice,” said Renee Stone, vice president of climate for the National Audubon Society. “Our elected officials at every level of government must hear from their constituents that this is a priority. Audubon is committed to protecting the places birds need now and in the future and taking action to address the root causes of climate change.”
Audubon has outlined five key steps:
- Reduce your use of energy at home and ask your elected officials to support energy-saving policies that reduce the overall demand for electricity and that save consumers money.
- Ask your elected officials to expand clean energy development that grows jobs in your community – like properly-sited solar or wind power.
- Reduce the amount of carbon pollution released into the atmosphere. In order to drive down carbon emissions, we will need innovative economy-wide solutions that address every sector of the economy.
- Advocate for natural solutions, from increasing wetlands along coasts and rivers that absorb soaking rains to protecting forests and grasslands that are homes to birds and serve as carbon storage banks, and putting native plants everywhere to help birds adapt to climate change.
- Ask elected leaders to be climate and conservation champions.
Enter your zip code into Audubon’s Birds and Climate Visualizer to see how climate change will impact your birds, your community, and the ways you can help.
Audubon’s report is based on the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report models for 1.5, 2.0 and 3.0 degrees C of global warming. At the highest warming scenario of 3.0 C, 305 bird species face three or more climate-related impacts.
Last month, Science published a study by a joint team of conservation biologists describing a grim picture: a steady decline of nearly three billion North American birds since 1970, primarily as a result of human activities. Climate change will further exacerbate the challenges birds are already facing from human activity.
In 2014, Audubon published its first Birds and Climate Change Report. The study showed that more than half of the bird species in North America could lose at least half of their current ranges by 2080 due to rising temperatures. Audubon’s new findings reflect an expanded and more precise data set, and indicate the dire situation for birds and the places they need will continue.
The full report, visuals and assets are available in the Media Kit.
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety. Audubon North Carolina, a state program of the National Audubon Society, has offices in Durham, Boone, Corolla, and Wilmington. Learn more at www.nc.audubon.org, on Twitter at @audubonnc, and on Instagram at @audubon_nc.
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